At this point in time, electrical grids lose more than 5 percent of their energy through the process of transmission. This occurs due to electrical resistance, with the energy being lost as heat.
The good news is that scientists may have found a solution thanks to the discovery of a material that displays superconducting behavior at room temperature. Superconducting means electric currents can flow through it with perfect efficiency, with no energy wasted as heat.
The University of Rochester researchers observed the superconducting behavior in a carbonaceous sulfur hydride compound at a temperature of 15C. However, the property only appeared at extremely high pressures of 267 billion pascals – about a million times higher than typical tire pressure. This obviously limits its practical usefulness.
The next goal for scientists is to find ways to create room-temperature superconductors at lower pressures. If they manage, it could help electrical grids save billions of dollars and have an effect on the climate.
Beyond electrical grids, these materials could have many other applications. For instance, superconductors could provide a new way to propel levitated trains – like the Maglev trains that “float” above the track in Japan and Shanghai, China. Magnetic levitation is a feature of some superconducting materials. Another application would be faster, more efficient electronics.
“With this kind of technology, you can take society into a superconducting society where you’ll never need things like batteries again,” said co-author Ashkan Salamat of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
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