Here’s a development that caught my eye. Some researchers have announced that they have developed a material with superconductive properties at 59°F. That’s not exactly room temperature but it’s a lot closer than the supercold temperatures previously required. From Joel Hruska at ExtremeTech:
The search for a truly room-temperature superconducting material has been one of the great Holy Grails in engineering and physics. The ability to move electricity from Point A to B with zero resistance and hence no losses would be a game-changer for human civilization. Unfortunately, until today, every known superconductor still required very cold temperatures. Today, scientists announced they’ve achieved superconducting at 59 degrees Fahrenheit/15 Celsius. While this is still a bit chilly, you can hit 59F in a well air-conditioned building. This is a genuine breakthrough, but it doesn’t immediately clear the path towards easy deployment of the technology.
At extremely low temperatures, the behavior of electrons through a material changes. At temperatures approaching absolute zero, electrons passing through a material form what are known as Cooper pairs. Normally, single electrons essentially ping-pong through the ionic lattice of the material they are passing through. Each time an electron collides with an ion in the lattice, it loses a tiny amount of energy. This loss is what we call resistance. When cooled to a low enough temperature, electrons behave dramatically differently. Cooper pairs behave like a superfluid, meaning they can flow through material without any underlying energy loss. Tests have demonstrated that current stored inside a superconductor will remain there for as long as the material remains in a superconductive state with zero loss of energy.
There are a couple of glitches in this finding. For one thing the researchers don’t know why it works. The lack of a good explanation for it is a bit of an impediment.
The second is that it they only see the effect at 2.5M atmospheres of pressure. That’s a lot of pressure. Pressure that high prohibits practical deployment of the solution.
Nevertheless, this is an important discovery which may lead to the much-desired room temperature normal pressure superconductors. Those would make energy transmission and storage much more efficient, paving the way for making some green dreams possible.