Underground caverns for energy storage using superconductive magnets Academic Article uri icon


  • A group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is studying the feasibility of constructing an energy storage superconductive magnet in Wisconsin. Superconductive magnets have the potential of becoming an economically desirable alternative to pumped hydro-storage, particularly in areas where topography and water conditions do not favor hydroelectric plants. Superconductive magnets are circular solenoids which develop high radial and axial forces when charged. Bedrock must be used for the support structure of large units. Our current program calls for the design of doughnut shaped tunnels, with a perimeter of at least 100 m in diameter, and a cross-section of 5 × 15 m to 5 × 40 m, which will accommodate 10,000 MWh systems. The conductor would be attached to the bedrock by fiberglass-epoxy struts; insulation would reduce any cooling of the surrounding bedrock. Because of the stiffness of the conductor and its support structure, only limited radial deformations of the bedrock are allowed. In addition, because of the adverse effects of water on the conductor, inflows must be eliminated entirely. The development of site criteria is based on integration of detailed geotechnical field investigation and finite element analysis. The site evaluation program is being applied to locating potential areas for a plant to be constructed in southern Wisconsin. © 1978.

author list (cited authors)

  • Haimson, B. C., Hartwig, K. T., & Doe, T. W.

publication date

  • April 1978