Propulsion Actuation or Levitation With Magnets

Matthew Swallow, our Technical Sales Engineer for Magnets and Magnetic Assemblies, recently attended the UK Magnetic Society’s event on Non-Rotating Machines.

As the UK Magnetic Society acknowledge, providing propulsion, actuation or levitation requires unique machines and advanced control techniques.  It also presents its own set of challenges.  The seminar, hosted by the University of Loughborough, brought together experts from industry and academia to share their ideas and experiences on the topic.  Included in the programme were presentations on linear machines, actuators, and self-bearing machines that levitate the rotor without the need for bearings (mechanical or magnetic).  There is an expansive application scope with opportunities in Aerospace, Automotive, Industry and Medical among others.

Matthew reports.

“As with most magnetics gatherings, the conference was attended by a good mix of academic and industrial partners.  This demonstrates how continual R&D influences and drives advances in current magnetic technology.

“The stars of the show for me, were the academic team from Edinburgh who were dreaming big on the future of Hyperloop technology.  Perhaps ‘dreaming’ is not an accurate statement, as the team have already won 1 of the 13 awards for the Hyperloop Pod Competition.  Apparently, the top 3 entries from around the world will have their Hyperloops built by the SpaceX team and, whilst this raised some laughter from the audience, the Edinburgh team was deadly serious about winning and bringing Hyperloop technology to the UK.hyperloop

“The Hyperloop uses a large linear accelerator, capable of the 300 to 760 mph (480 to 1,220 kph) acceleration at 1G.  This may be a little too fast and 0.6G would suffice.  The Hyperloop uses a linear induction motor to accelerate and decelerate the capsule.

Linear motors were the main theme of the day.  The many demonstrations illustrated their incredible efficiency.  The only down-side for linear motor supplier Force Engineering is that they are practically zero maintenance.  In fact, Disneyland Paris has only just ordered a new motor, 25 years after the original installation!

“We were also treated to two examples of Catapult Technology, one launching a jet fighter from the ground and the other a dumb 35T weight from a US Aircraft carrier.

“Perhaps Boris Johnson should have been at this conference as Tom Cox of the University of Nottingham solved the Heathrow expansion problem.  A linear accelerator can launch an Airbus A320 in approximately half the runway length needed when using just turbine engines.  This means cutting runway lengths in half.

“It even makes economic sense.  A linear accelerator on one runway would cost approximately £1.5 billion, which is 10% of the cost of a new runway.

“The incredible uses of magnetic technology continues to amaze me and if you have a magnetic application and want to talk to a company who are as enthusiastic about magnetic technology as you are, then please do get in touch.”

At the Bunting design and manufacturing headquarters in Berkhamsted, UK, we have a dedicated technical and development team regularly designing special Magnets and Magnet Assemblies for customers.  For further information or to discuss as specific Magnet or Magnetic Assembly requirement, please contact us on: