Attack-proof power line to be installed under NY

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Consolidated Edison, Inc and American Superconductor Corporation have agreed to put a superconducting power line under midtown New York that should lead to a sturdier power grid able to withstand extreme weather and attacks.

The move is part of an effort by Con Ed to upgrade the power grid in New York. A power outage in Queens, New York last summer, and the August 2003 blackout that hit parts of the U.S. Northeast, Canada and the Midwest, have raised concerns about power delivery in New York’s financial district, seen as vital to the nation’s economy.

The Department of Homeland Security will fund up to $25 million for the nearly $40 million superconductor cable, it calls “Project Hydra,” after the mythical Greek monster that grew back multiple heads when one was severed.

The cable will link two substations in Manhattan. The department said the project could lead to further deployment of the technology which also suppresses power surges.

“We have asked AMSC and Consolidated Edison to demonstrate superconductor solutions in New York City that will serve to keep our centers of commerce on line under all conditions - including grid events related to severe weather, accidents or terrorist attacks,” Jay Cohen, the Department of Homeland Security’s undersecretary for technology, said in a statement on Monday.

High temperature superconducting cables made with ceramic materials can carry 10 times more power than traditional cables, but are costly and face technological challenges.

Superconducting cable must be cooled with liquid nitrogen to -382 degrees Fahrenheit (-230 Celsius). At that point, conductivity resistance falls, allowing the cables to carry the extra power.

The New York project will be carried out in two stages with deployment of the cable by 2010, a spokesman for American Superconductor said.