Site:           Central Research Institute of the Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI)
                Superconductivity Department
                2-11-1 Iwatokita, Komae-shi
                Tokyo 210, Japan
Date Visited:   7 June 1996
WTEC Attendees: P. Grant and J. Daley (report authors), 
                R.D. Blaugher, 
                G. Gamota, 
                R. Schwall, 
                R. Sokolowski
Hosts:          Kiyotaka Uyeda, Associate Vice President
                Shirabe Akita, Director, Superconductivity Department


The Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI) was founded in 1951 when the Japanese government dismantled the Japan Power Generation and Transmission Company and the nine power companies according to an order to reorganize the electric power industry based on the Potsdam Ordinance. CRIEPI was formed as the electric-utility-related R&D laboratory to support the nine new private regional utilities that are in existence today. CRIEPI is managed through a fund using a 0.2% "tax" placed on all electric energy sales in Japan by the privatized utilities. In comparison, the U.S. Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in the past collected its funds via a similar surcharge on the generation capacity of its member utilities that state regulatory commissions allowed to be passed on to the ratepayers. The difference is that membership in EPRI is voluntary, and with deregulation, the incentive to join EPRI has diminished. As far as the WTEC panel could see, CRIEPI faces no immediate similar situation, and indeed its funding is likely to grow as load growth continues to increase in Japan, unless political events intervene. Over the years, several of the largest of these nine utilities, notably Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO), and Chubu Electric Power Co., have created their own R&D centers. The division of effort between CRIEPI and the utility laboratories seems to be that "basic" R&D and system modeling and analog simulation is done at CRIEPI, and prototype development (e.g., cable, generators, flywheels, etc.) is done at utility labs in conjunction with both industry and government.

Principal superconductivity programs at CRIEPI center around materials and ac loss measurements. In the past, CRIEPI researchers have done extensive ac loss testing on LTS wires. Similar measurements have been done on HTS materials, including some interesting studies indicating lower loss ac transport at elevated frequencies in the reversible region of the mixed state. HTS material work centers on collaboration with Tokai on diffusion thalination and a new facility to investigate grain angle boundary effects in YBCO (it is not clear in this area what problems CRIEPI will address that are not already addressed elsewhere, e.g., at the University of Wisconsin). In addition, CRIEPI advises and proposes to the Japanese government programs on superconductivity (e.g., Super-GM) in the interest of the electric utilities. The superconductivity group is very small compared to other departments in CRIEPI, but is "special" in the sense that it and one other department (biotech) are dedicated to long-term technologies.


Akita's Group: 8

Budget (exclusive of salaries)

Internal:     $1.6 million/year
External:     $0.15 million/year (Super-GM study)
              $0.06 million/year (SMES study)


Question: What do you see today as CRIEPI's most important effort in R&D for HTS power applications?
Answer: 1st, Cable; 2nd, FCL.

Question: What HTS products does your organization have for sale now or has it already announced for sale in the near future? Could you supply product literature or specifications for these products?
Answer: A8: Power Cable.

Question: What is your organization's most significant contribution to achieving practical HTS conductors?
Answer: Understanding of grain boundary problem.

Question: What are the major scientific and technical issues for these materials?
Answer: Grain boundaries and flux dynamics.

Question: What are the most favorable HTS material and conductor geometry for the applications your organization is targeting?
Answer: Cable, FCL.

Question: What are the most important problems limiting critical current density (Jc) in wires and tapes produced by the powder in tube (PIT) or coated conductor process?
Answer: Grain boundaries.

Question: What are the target costs and markets for this technology?
Answer: 1 /Am., dc, Nb-Ti at 5 T ($10/kAm).

Question: What are the major scientific and technical issues for these applications (generation and storage).
Answer: Simulations/analysis.

Question: For power transmission cables, what is your organization's approach to cable design, particularly with respect to electrical and thermal insulation materials, conductor geometries and physical placement, and termination (connection to room temperature conductors) design?
Answer: Cryocooled cable.

An interesting discussion occurred during the WTEC visit regarding high Tc generators and motors. CRIEPI management would like to start a collaboration in the near future. It would involve only high Tc generators and motors. Uyeda planned to visit the United States, and hoped to learn more about the Reliance-SPI. The panel's hosts viewed any Japanese program as a nongovernment effort. High Tc generators and motors are another example of the new large SC projects waiting to be started.

CRIEPI management is interested in participating in an international effort to define ac loss standards and has offered to provide the "interface" to Japanese wire and cable companies in providing samples and acting as one of the test sites.

Published: September 1997; WTEC Hyper-Librarian