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The ICMAB receives one ERC Proof of Concept Grant for enabling high-temperature superconducting technologies

  • Teresa Puig, group leader of the Superconducting Materials and Large Scale Nanostructures (SUMAN) group, is among the awardees for a project to scale-up a new manufacturing process of high-temperature superconductors.
  • The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded top-funding totalling 9.3 M€ to 62 ERC grant holders via its Proof of Concept Grants. They are meant to explore the commercial or societal potential of their research. 

ERC Proof of Concept (PoC) grants are worth 150,000 € each and can be used, for instance, to explore business opportunities, prepare patent applications or verify the practical viability of scientific concepts. The grants are part of the EU's research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. This latest batch of grants includes the 1000th project to receive Proof of Concept funding since the scheme started in 2011.

The awarded project IMPACT, led by Prof. Teresa Puig from the Superconducting Materials and Large Scale Nanostructures (SUMAN) group at the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC), will try to demonstrate the commercial relevance of high-temperature superconductors, and to build a business strategy for the industrial scale-up of a new manufacturing process for these materials, which will push this emerging industry to market adoption.

Major challenges currently limit the practical use of high-temperature superconductors in large-scale applications, such as wind turbines, industrial scale generators, superconducting magnetic energy storage and advanced MRI/NMR machines. The main challenge is the overall cost of the process, linked to the low growth rates and low production rates of the manufacturing process. In the framework of the ERC Advanced Grant funded project ULTRASUPERTAPE, the group developed a new method for the fabrication of high-temperature superconducting tapes that would overcome these challenges.

impact erc teresapuig

Figure: Scheme of the synthesis process of high-temperature superconducting tapes

“Now, together with the spin-off company Oxolutia, emerged from the SUMAN group in 2010, the IMPACT project will investigate the transformation requirements from the laboratory synthesis to the pilot plant manufacturing, to explore the potential applications of high-temperature superconductors in large-scale applications”, explains Teresa Puig. “Another important aspect to highlight is that within this project we will perform a market analysis, build a business case to create an exploitation strategy, and strengthen the intellectual property of this technology”, adds Prof. Puig.

It is the second time that the ICMAB receives one of these ERC Proof of Concept grants, the first one to Dr. Marta Mas-Torrent was devoted to the fabrication of organic electronic devices (LAB-TECH). Altogether, the ICMAB counts with 11 ERC projects (1 Advanced Grant, 5 Consolidator Grants, 3 Starting Grants, and 2 Proof of Concept Grants).

There have been a total of 4 ERC PoC Grants awarded to Spanish institutions. Aside from the ICMAB, the other Spanish institutions funded in this call are the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, for a ERC Proof of Concept project of Prof. Jordi Sort, the University of Alcalá (ERC PoC number 1000), and the International Center for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE). Congratulations to all the grantees!

Learn more about the awarded projects in: https://erc.europa.eu/news/PoC-recipients-2019-second-round 

Watch the video with Teresa Puig explaining the project here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrvCod39nfc&feature=youtu.be

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