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Web Exclusive | November 2012

ABB develops new tech for future DC grid

Paving the way for a more efficient and reliable electricity supply system, ABB has announced that it has made a breakthrough in the ability to interrupt direct current, solving a 100-year-old electrical engineering puzzle.

After years of research, ABB said, it has developed the world’s first circuit breaker for high voltage direct current (HVDC).

It combines very fast mechanics with power electronics, and will be capable of ‘interrupting’ power flows equivalent to the output of a large power station within 5 milliseconds—that is thirty times faster than the blink of a human eye.

The breakthrough removes a 100-year-old barrier to the development of DC transmission grids, which will enable the efficient integration and exchange of renewable energy. DC grids will also improve grid reliability and enhance the capability of existing AC (alternating current) networks. ABB said it is in discussions with power utilities to identify pilot projects for the new development.

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