A vital characteristic of the Japanese program is a belief in the importance of advanced technologies and new materials, of which the high temperature superconductors are certainly part. There is a widespread belief that superconductivity is going to be a vital 21st century technology, not just in the power applications field but also in electronics. The Japanese program in applications of superconductivity dates from 1962, when high field superconductivity first became a possibility. The program has continued, even through the recession that has hit Japanese industry so hard. Panelists were told time and again that the commitment to superconductivity will continue, because there does not have to be a payback in two or three years. Unlike the situation in the United States, there is a distinctly large-company focus to superconductivity work in Japan, and there is a greater tendency to integrate low and high temperature superconductivity. This can be seen in the Super-GM program, which uses LTS rotors for the 70 MW-class generators but which also supports development of a wide range of LTS and HTS conductors aimed at use in transformers, fault-current limiters, and other devices.

Published: September 1997; WTEC Hyper-Librarian