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The Boston Globe

Business

AMSC, Nexans unveil product that aims to make power grids more resilient

AMSC, a Devens technology company that makes systems and products that help control wind turbines and power grids, has teamed up with cable supplier Nexans to unveil a new product for the North American market that is designed to make power grids more resilient, the two companies said in a Wednesday press release.

The product is called a medium voltage superconductor fault current limiter, or SFCL. Destructive fault currents can be caused by such factors as lightning strikes and downed power lines. The new SFCL aims to limit currents to safe, manageable values.

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As power grids have become more interconnected, the magnitude of these fault currents has increased significantly, the release said. According to AMSC and Nexans, fault current limiters are crucial in the development of cost-effective smart grids.

The Nexans/AMSC SFCL system will employ AMSC’s Amperium superconductor wire, which is able to conduct about 200 times the electrical current of copper wire of similar dimensions, the companies said.

In a statement, Nexans corporate vice president Jean-Maxime Saugrain said: “For years, power grid operators worldwide have been forced to implement sub-optimized schemes to deal with rising fault current levels. That is no longer the case. With a decade of development and demonstrations behind us and initial deployments taking place in Europe, we are excited to be introducing SFCLs to the North American marketplace with AMSC.”

AMSC has faced difficulties of late. Last month, it announced plans to lay off about 25 percent of its workforce, or an estimated 100 employees. The company said then that “challenging” conditions in the wind energy sector have hurt its growth plans, a Globe story noted. AMSC is also embroiled in several lawsuits in China that allege intellectual property theft by a company that was once AMSC’s largest customer.

Nexans is headquartered in Paris. AMSC is also known as American Superconductor.

Chris Reidy can be reached at reidy@globe.com.

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