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Meridian & Canterprise partner in superconducting

Media release

4 July 2003
Meridian Energy and Canterprise partner in major
superconducting project

Meridian Energy and the University of Canterbury’s commercial arm, Canterprise, have signed an agreement to become joint shareholders in a company to develop a novel superconducting transformer for the power industry.

Canterprise has formed the company, Canterbury TX, to commercialise the technology, which was originally developed by Dr Pat Bodger, together with students working on the project, at the university.

Announcing the agreement, Canterprise chief executive Terry Fullerton says the technology represents a breakthrough in transformer design and has significant international commercial potential.

“The establishment of a company such as this is an excellent example of where leading edge design and innovation can be integrated with business needs to develop applications of real benefit to industry.”

The novel transformer is based on partial core liquid nitrogen cooled temperature superconducting technology and has many benefits over traditional transformers. These include substantially improved efficiency because of lower electrical losses and a reduced environmental hazard because insulating oil is not required.

Meridian Energy’s Garth Dibley says his company is committed to investing in knowledge and innovation which leads to improving efficiency and reducing capital expenditure.

“This transformer design will provide substantially improved efficiency and represents an important step towards developing environmentally sustainable energy generation systems.

“This kind of transformer can carry up to 200% of nameplate rating indefinitely without loss of transformer life. This means we can buy transformers of lower rating to do the same job or pack up to four times the capacity onto the same footprint area. This technology promises to bring sweeping changes to the industry.”

Conventional transformer technology using superconducting wire is the subject of considerable international research efforts but has yet to be commercialised. “We believe the New Zealand technology with the use of partial core transformer technology will provide the disruptive step which will enable the successful use of superconducting wires in the transformers of the future.”

Meridian Energy has supported work by the university into superconductors for a number of years and this new agreement represents a commitment to an application of that earlier research.

The first task of Canterbury TX is to build two small scale prototypes to the University of Canterbury’s design. Once this is complete, the company will seek to license or sell the technology, or partner with an international manufacturer.

Patent applications have been lodged in the US, Europe and elsewhere and the university and inventors share ownership of the patents.


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