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IRL Partnership for Innovative Superconductor Tech

DRAFT Media Release
19 December 2007

General Cable Forms Partnership for Innovative Superconductor Technology

Christchurch-based General Cable has partnered with New Zealand’s Industrial Research Ltd (IRL) to develop and commercialise a revolutionary high-temperature superconducting wire (HTS) for use as a component in AC power transformers, DC generators and large electrical motors.

The joint venture with IRL places New Zealand significantly ahead in the quest for a superconductor with the potential to carry high electrical currents, lower energy losses, reduce maintenance requirements and to enable power transformers, generators and motors to be made smaller and lighter with up to 50% less losses and lower maintenance.

Campbell Whyte, Chief Executive of General Cable Asia Pacific, says IRL has the only suitable and patented technology that can be commercialised within the next two to three years.

Whyte says the development process, which will see General Cable invest at least NZD$2.4million over the next three years, is the most internationally significant development project undertaken locally since the Company began manufacturing cable in Christchurch in 1946.

The Chief Executive of IRL, Shaun Coffey, says the agreement is a vital step in establishing the potential of HTS as a key technology for the 21st century.

“IRL research has produced an effective and cost-efficient manufacturing method of HTS cable and the joint venture with General Cable to manufacture it in commercial quantities means HTS technology can be available to many more applications,” he says. “We already have an established HTS industry in New Zealand and this development will allow it to expand further.”

The joint venture aims to have the locally manufactured High Temperature Superconductor Continuously Transposed Cable Technology (HTS-CTC) available to a global market within five years. It follows 19 years of development by IRL, with funding from the New Zealand Government through the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. The technology involves cutting HTS tape in ribbon form to be stacked, cabled and then encapsulated in a way that reduces electrical loss.

The development will proceed in two phases:

December 2007 – 2010: a product development phase, involving the manufacturing of test lengths, modification of production equipment, and testing of commercial volumes.

Post 2010: Full commercial manufacturing by General Cable in New Zealand under an exclusive global licence with the right to sub-licence.

The joint venture partners signed the joint venture agreement today, Wednesday 19 December, and were joined for the occasion by the Hon Pete Hodgson, Minister of Research, Science and Technology, and Minister of Economic Development.

Campbell Whyte says commercialisation of the IRL technology has the potential to create a significant global market.

“General Cable has links with some of New Zealand’s most significant industrial developments, particularly in the area of infrastructure and projects of national importance, and we see this joint venture as a mark of our commitment to innovation and excellence in manufacturing.”

“It is without doubt one of the most significant steps we have taken in more than 60 years of designing and manufacturing products that we all use and benefit from every day.”

About General Cable
General Cable is a leader in the development, design, manufacture, marketing and distribution of copper, aluminium and fibre optic wire and cable products for the communications, energy and specialty markets. The Company offers competitive strengths in such areas as breadth of product line, brand recognition, distribution and logistics, sales and service and operating efficiency. Communications wire and cable products transmit low-voltage signals for voice, data, video and control applications. Energy cables include low-, medium- and high-voltage power distribution and power transmission products. The Specialty segment is comprised of application-specific cables for uses such as electrical power generation (traditional fuels, alternative and renewable sources, and distributed generation), the oil, gas and petrochemical industries, mining, industrial automation, automotive, marine, military and aerospace applications, power applications in the telecommunications industry, and other key industrial segments. Visit our website at

About Industrial Research Limited
Industrial Research Limited (IRL) is a Crown Research Institute which develops technology for the New Zealand industrial and manufacturing sectors. Its core business is innovation based on scientific and engineering research. IRL works with industry in areas such as research and development, pilot-scale production, consultancy, commercialisation of technology, testing and calibration, and sales and licensing. Its primary focus is on the energy sector, Information and Communication technologies, speciality manufacturing, building and engineering and biomanufacture, including the targeted development of new drug candidates, and advanced ingredients for the nutriceutical, comsmeceutical and healthy food and beverage markets. IRL Ltd has around 300 staff and an annual expenditure of around $60million per annum.


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