A power grid for the hydrogen economy

Paul M. Grant, Chauncey Starr, Thomas J. Overbye

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The design of a continental SuperGrid power distribution system, is discussed. The physicists of IBM published a design for a 1000 km transmission line cable of niobium tin in 1967, which could superconduct at high currents. The scientists also proposed a DC cable with two conductors that together could carry 100 gigawatts approximately equal to the output of 50 nuclear power plants. Later, after the discovery of high temperature superconductivity, a study by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) concluded that a five gigawatt DC electricity pipe with liquid nitrogen as a coolant, could compete with a gas pipeline for transmission distances of 800 kms. The cables developed for the SuperGrid use copper oxide based superconducting tape cooled by liquid nitrogen at 77 Kelvin. To explore the potential, it is essential to develop prototypes as the existing electrical grids are reaching the point of maximum loading.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-83
Number of pages8
JournalScientific American
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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