Professor Rod Badcock awarded the prestigious Pickering Medal
The award, from the Royal Society Te Apārangi and the Health Research Council, was presented to Professor Badcock for his international leadership in developing superconductive technologies.
The Pickering medal is awarded annually to someone who has completed innovative technological work, significant in their influence and recognition both nationally and internationally.
Professor Badcock, deputy director of the Paihau—Robinson Research Institute at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, received the award for his work towards unlocking the potential of superconductivity to facilitate clean, sustainable energy production.
His research is enabling the development of all-electric aircraft that use superconductive motors and generators, creating machines that significantly increase energy and power density over state-of-the-art electric motors.
He is playing a leading role in developing engineering approaches that will see this technology rolled out internationally, including strategic partnerships with Air New Zealand and Sounds Air in New Zealand, Pratt and Whitney and Collins Aerospace in the United States, and Airbus in the European Union around sustainable electric aviation.
“In order to meet the targets set by the Paris climate agreement, jet engines need to be massively more efficient.
“Superconducting electric motors could increase airplane fuel efficiency by 70 percent—or more, massively reducing aviation carbon emissions.”
Professor Badcock’s work is also supporting the development of clean, sustainable fusion energy with an optical-fibre sensing technology, as a key component in sustainable commercial fusion-energy plant development.
“This system responds in milliseconds to any perturbation of the temperature anywhere around it. We now have a very, very early warning system, an incredibly sensitive technique that can be applied where you cannot put anything electrical.
“These high-temperature superconductors have made fusion power reachable within the next 10 years.”
Professor Badcock says that his work would not be possible without extensive collaboration, both locally and globally.
“Paihau is recognised internationally, we are frequently sought out by companies in the sustainable energy industry to work on their commercial programmes.”
Dr Joseph Minervini is the Chief Technology Officer at Novum Industria, a superconductive technology spin-off company from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He says that Professor Badcock’s work will have a huge impact on society.
“His innovations have led to breakthroughs in the fields of power and energy, scientific discovery, medical, and industrial applications.
“The most significant impact from Rod’s work will be in the widescale commercial application of superconducting motors and electric power distribution systems for a new industry based on all-electric aircraft.”