[rec.railroad] How Warm Superconductors Change Things

kurt@tc.fluke.COM (Kurt Guntheroth) (11/09/87)

1.  Computation:  A fully superconducting chip is limited in capactiy only
    by the density with which components can be laid out.  There will be no
    problem with the thing getting hot and melting down.  A superconducting
    nonvloatile RAM may also be possible.  Computers will be much faster,
    smaller, and generally more powerful.
2.  Power distribution:  Power distribution will be more efficient.  I think
    about 10% overall.  That's 10% less demand for nuclear plants just on
    that one point.  There is also some hope for superconducting power
    storage rings too.  This will reduce the peak demand for power
    generation, which also reduces the need for power plants.  What about
    superconducting transformers?
3.  Transportation:  Mag-Lev trains are supposed to be efficient.  But
    that's the small part of it.  High torque, light weight electric motors
    of all sizes would be possible.  The electric car may finally be a
    reality.  There are also millions of tiny motors everywhere that may
    benefit from supercondoctivity even if the attainable current density
    isn't high enough for big motors.  How about "bionics?"  

In the electricity business, superconductivity means power savings of 10 to
40 per cent.  Tell me this won't be a revolution.  Even if all we get is
liquid-nitrogen-cooled superconducting computers, which seems the most
attainable superconducting technology, the data processing industry will be
turned upside down.