Alternating current loss of superconductors applied to superconducting electrical machines

Hongye Zhang, Zezhao Wen, Francesco Grilli , Konstantinos N. Gyftakis, Markus A. Mueller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Superconductor technology has recently attracted increasing attention in power generation and electrical propulsion related domains, as it provides a solution to the limited power density seen by the core component, electrical machines. Superconducting machines, characterized by both high power density and high efficiency, can effectively reduce the size and mass compared to conventional machine designs. This opens the way to large scale purely electrical applications, e.g., all-electrical aircraft. Alternating current (AC) loss of superconductors caused by time-varying transport currents or magnetic fields (or both) has impaired the efficiency and reliability of superconducting machines, bringing severe challenges to the cryogenic systems, too. Although much research has been conducted in terms of the qualitative and quantitative analysis of AC loss and its reduction methods, AC loss remains a crucial problem for the design of highly efficient superconducting machines, especially for those operating at high speeds for future aviation. Given that a critical review on the research advancement regarding the AC loss of superconductors has not been reported during the last dozen years, especially combined with electrical machines, this paper aims to clarify its research status and provide a useful reference for researchers working on superconducting machines. The adopted superconducting materials, analytical formulae, modelling methods, measurement approaches, as well as reduction techniques for AC loss of low temperature superconductors (LTSs) and high temperature superconductors (HTSs) in both low and high frequency fields have been systematically analyzed and summarized. Based on the authors’ previous research on AC loss characteristics of HTS coated conductors (CCs), stacks, and coils at high frequencies, the challenges for the existing AC loss quantification methods have been elucidated, and multiple suggestions with respect to the AC loss reduction in superconducting machines have been put forward. This article systematically reviews the qualitative and quantitatively analysis methods of AC loss as well as its reduction techniques in superconductors applied to electrical machines for the first time. It is believed to help deepen the understanding of AC loss and deliver a helpful guideline for the future development of superconducting machines and applied superconductivity.
Original languageEnglish
Article number22334
Issue number8
Early online date16 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Apr 2021


  • alternating current loss
  • superconducting machines
  • low/high-temperature superconductor
  • analytical formula
  • modelling method
  • measurement approach
  • loss reduction technique
  • non-sinusoidal electromagnetic environment


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