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Super Fans,

Here's a cross posting of a few things I posted on the Rule Breaker superconductor board recently. (AMSC is not a Rule Breaker rec. I've got a nice little long position in AMSC at a CB of $8):

I don't know any of the details behind this yet, but AMSC announced that they will be able to produce twice as much 2G HTS wire than originally forecast (720K meters/yr by Dec 2007 vs. 300K meters/yr). In addition, the wire will have higher performance than originally anticipated. They are forecasting that they can reach the price/performance of copper by the end of the decade.

http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/060323/neth006.html?.v...

If all that pans out, it's a major step forward. I'll be looking around for more details.


*****************************************************

Something about AMSC's recent announcement (that they are doubling their forecasted 2G HTS wire manufacturing capacity) struck a
bit of an odd note for me. I follow the company quite closely, and this announcement seems like a response to recent rumblings in the industry. Here's some context that I'm aware of:

1.) During the last AMSC conference call one of the analyst asked about a competitor's claim that they could quickly ramp up 2G HTS mfg capacity to 1 million meters a year. The AMSC folks seemed to be caught off guard by that comment, and after some off-mike consultation between them, responded that they didn't believe such a claim.

2.) I did some poking around, and found that the analyst was referring to MetOx. MetOx currently produces only small prototype lengths of wire. Two things to keep in mind about MetOx are a.) they are privately held, and can say pretty much whatever they want b.) they have something of a history of making claims they don't deliver on. I found an article from 2001 in which they said they would be producing commercial quantities of 2G HTS by 2003. Obviously, that didn't happen. (MetOx has a website at www.metox.biz)

As a side note, every maker of 2G HTS wire that I know about (in the US) uses a similar technique. First, a textured substrate is created. The textured substrate is necessary to correctly align the molecules of the YBCO material as it is deposited on the substrate. There are three main methods of creating the substrate and three main methods of depositing the YBCO material on the substrate. All of this technology is licensed from entities whose research was funded by the US federal government.

3.) A couple of weeks ago an editiorial was published in SuperConductor Weekly questioning whether either of the current mfg techniques used by the DOD funded efforts (AMSC and SuperPower) could become commercially successful. (http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=23788808)

4.) In the next issue, AMSC responded to the editorial. First, they expressed surprise. They then proceded to point out that the author of the editorial had assumed that their prototype equipment was only capable of producing prototype quantities, and would thus have to be scaled in a linear fashion to achieve production quantities. AMSC stated that the equipment that have already installed to do the prototyping is capable of producing much more wire.

5.) Now, a very short time later, you have this announcement from AMSC which seems designed to address all this rumbling.
a.) They are announcing production targets approaching the 1 million meter/yr mark
b.) They are reinforcing the commercial feasibility of their approach.
c.) They are stating that they will achieve the oft-stated goal of the DOE of reaching coppper price/performance by the end of the decade.

So, here's my concern: Is this announcement based on real progress they have made, or is it a public (and government) relations effort? In the year I've been studying them, AMSC has been very conservative in what they promise. I hope this announcement is in line with that track record. I'm still looking for more info on this, and will post whatever I discover. (If they can produce 720K meters/yr by the end of 2007, and that wire fully meets DOE performance specs ... wow!) I'm looking forward to their next CC, where I'm sure this will be a major topic of discussion.

Doug
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