Cryogenics and Superconductors
Date: Around 1993
In your opinion, how do you think cryogenics will advance technologically,
and how important will it becomes in our everyday lives?
I think cryogenics will have a future in cooling materials to superconduct-
ing temperatures. Many material scientists are working on materials that
are "high temperature" superconductors but to the best of my knowledge these
high temperatures are still quite low (on the order of 100 Kelvin, or -280
Fahrenheit). I think that in the near term, industrial uses for these newer
"high temperature" superconductors will still require cryogenics technology.
Of course the push from the material science point of view (or from a
practical point of view) is to find materials that can be superconducting at
room temperature, therefore, you would not have to go to the expense of
refrigerating the material to achieve superconductivity. This is but one
example, I am sure there are other examples in medicine and medical re-
search, but I know little of this area.
After reading your question again, I realize that I did not really answer
it. Superconducting materials will most likely be used in any electrical
machinery that we happen to use (assuming of course that the cost of the
materials are competitive). Every utensil that uses an electric motor will
be running at nearly perfect efficiencies with superconducting wire. The
only significant losses would be in the bearings. This also assumes that we
will have the same basic configuration that now exists in electric motors.
david r munoz
Also, there is a satellite now in operation that uses cryogenic cooling. I
am not sure what the coolant is, but the satellite parts are cooled down to
about 6-12 Kelvin. Pretty cold, eh? I believe it is a NASA satellite aimed
at observing different kinds of radiation reaching the Earth from other
galaxies/stars, etc. It was in one of the issues of Aviation Week and Space
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Update: June 2012