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This is an interesting article. No mention of potential superconducting motors; but, for anyone who wants to understand the condition of the playing field on which AMSC works on, this adds a little knowledge - and perspective.

This article is not OT here because of the importance of the DDG-1000 to part of AMSC's strategic plan. AMSC's superconducting business (the one profitable unit of the company - Power Electronics Systems, which supplies things like controllers for wind farms - is non-superconducting primarily) is built on a couple of pillars:

1. Creation of the cheapest and highest quality, 2nd generation, economically viable HTS (High-temperature superconducting) wire to sell to anyone.

2. SuperMachines - taking their own wire and generating big, rotating machines from it. These machines are:
- SuperVar - the big shock absorbers for the electric grid. Only one commercial customer - so far: TVA, who has ordered 5 (the first two of which are being manufactured now for installation by March).
- big ship propulsion motors; first for the Navy, then hopefully for everyone else (including the commercial cruise industry et al).
- generators for ships .

I think the future for the SuperVars looks bright. TVA, after all, only put in the order for the first two commercial units after testing the hell out of a prototype unit - one they paid AMSC to develop, by the way - for a couple of years in Tennessee, outside a particularly noisy (electrically) steel mill.

AMSC had clearly intended to have at least a commercial ship (i.e, anything non-Navy) alliance announced by now. Such an alliance partner hasn't been announced because there are no immediate potential commercial ship customers. And their are no potential commercial ship customers because the Navy has - as of yet - not ordered a fully-militarized 36.5 MW motor for a real Navy ship.

In short, the Navy hasn't ordered real motors for the DDG-1000 - the target vessel. And it can't promise it will, because of budget problems et al (mentioned in the article). And AMSC's potential commercial ship alliance partners (there is more than one) have indicated until the Navy does order a 'real' HTS ship motor, there won't be any commercial sales either.

The Navy has clearance from Congress to purchase 7 DDG-1000 destroyers. Two are actively underway; i.e, the first contracts have been let to shipbuilders. These will contain standard, big, inefficient -but low-tech and well-known - copper windings motors (two per ship).

AMSC is convinced the Navy 'wants' to go HTS with most of the other ships. They probably do. As a NASA guy, I can also tell you that I 'want' several high-tech thingys to go into our next set of space ships, as well. Doesn't mean it will happen, even if it is the smart thing to do.

One thing in AMSC's favor - besides them being the odds- on favorite for an HTS motor, IF one/two are ordered - is that these contracts go in stages. Meaning, the Navy, if it at heart 'wants' to do something, can give the first few contracts out...but that doesn't obligate them to give the other contracts out next year, if Congress pulls the plug.

AMSC said in last week's conference call that they expect to get at least the first of these contracts - i.e, to start the work of studying/designing/setting up sourcing for the motor(s) - before September 30th! That tells me that they have info that NavSea has some money it MUST spend by the end of the fy - Sept. 30th - and the company is pretty sure they'll spend it on this first (of a series) of contracts leading to the design and construction of the first real, ship-and-sea intended HTS motor.

Meanwhile, this article gives a feeling for what the geopolitical sea is like surrounding the DDG-1000 program.

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