Amorphous steel transforms electrical efficiency

Super efficient transformers with cores made of amorphous steel have been introduced to the UK by Wilson Power Solutions in Leeds

According to Dr Lore Grohmann of Wilson Power, use of amorphous steel reduces core losses by up to 75%.

Amorphous steel is normally made as a thin ribbon by pouring molten metal onto a rapidly rotating copper wheel, which quenches the metal so quickly that it solidifies as a thin ribbon of flexible glass instead of a crystalline solid.

The first glassy metal was made at Caltech in 1957, but production costs have been greatly reduced and transformers with cores of wound, amorphous steel ribbon are widely manufactured in India.

They cost about 50% more than conventional transformers, but the company argues that applied to a 1000kVA unit with a 70% load factor and energy costs at the terminals of £0.08/kWh, the average savings per year are 28,000 kWh. This equates to £2250 and 15tonnes of carbon emissions. Payback time is typically 30months.

Very high efficiency motors and generators are also likely to be manufactured using similar technology, following an agreement between Light Engineering and Advanced Technology and Materials announced on August 21st 2009.

Light engineering is headquartered in Indianapolis but manufactures in Guangdong, China while Advanced Technology and Materials is mainly initiated by the Chinese Central Iron and Steel Institute, headquartered in Beijing.

Tom Shelley

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