Bearings are generally indispensable for any mechanical application that requires motion, and while the good-old classic bearings have proved their strong and weak points, a new generation of magnetic bearings is about to get born in the minds of mechanical engineers.
The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, along with Arnold Magnetic Technologies have just announced the start of a project meant to develop passive magnetic bearings. Initially made specially for ultra-high speed flywheel storage systems, the magnetic bearings can also be applied to other applications.
Richard Post, from LLNL, and Arnold Magnetic Technologies, who both have many years of experience in magnetic theory and practice, will collaborate for making the passive magnetic bearing closer to lower-priced technologies. Passive magnetic bearing have several advantages over “active” magnetic bearings, which use electromagnets: they don’t require a power source and are simpler and cheaper to maintain.
“The main purpose of this collaboration is to combine the efforts of an industry leader and a national laboratory in order to improve the passive magnetic bearing technology available today. This could lead to highly efficient solutions for other alternative energy systems like wind turbines and electric vehicles,” according to John De Leon, who is a business development engineer at Arnold.
After six months during which LLNL and Arnold will design and manufacture working prototypes, they will present the passive magnetic bearings to potential customers.