Opera simulations demonstrate high accuracy

Testing of a superconducting generator for hydroelectric applications from GE Power Conversion has demonstrated a high correlation between the accuracy of the Opera electromagnetic simulation tool used during the design process and the performance of the finished product.

The proven fidelity of the simulation, for a complex electrical machine with 28 poles, could help GE to create advanced solutions for numerous emergent superconducting applications in markets such as wind, wave and hydroelectric power generation, and electric motors for ship propulsion, the company says.

The results were for the Hydrogenie generator for hydroelectric applications, which was developed by a team from GE and partners, with financial support from the EU. The generator employs high temperature superconducting (HTS) wire, to provide both a step increase in output efficiency, and size and weight reductions of some 70 per cent when compared to a conventional electrical machine.

The correlation between predicted and measured results is extremely close. For example, the Opera finite element design tool from Cobham Technical services predicted the efficiency of the machine to an accuracy within 0.1 per cent of the final built product. This has many potential advantages for the electrical machine developers at GE.

'Testing proves that our superconducting generator design ideas work well, but also that we can predict performance with very good accuracy. Being able to produce very lean superconducting models – which are even more compact and perfectly matched to the application – could really make a big difference in the cost effectiveness of projected future applications such as wind power,' said Martin Ingles, Hydrogenie project manager at GE Power Conversion.

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