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A superconducting magnetic gear



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Campbell, AM 


A comparison is made between a magnetic gear using permanent magnets and superconductors. The objective is to see if there are any fundamental reasons why superconducting magnets should not provide higher power densities than permanent magnets. The gear is based on the variable permeability design of Attilah and Howe (2001 IEEE Trans. Magn. 37 2844–46) in which a ring of permanent magnets surrounding a ring of permeable pole pieces with a different spacing gives an internal field component at the beat frequency. Superconductors can provide much larger fields and forces but will saturate the pole pieces. However the gear mechanism still operates, but in a different way. The magnetisation of the pole pieces is now constant but rotates with angle at the beat frequency. The result is a cylindrical Halbach array which produces an internal field with the same symmetry as in the linear regime, but has an analytic solution. In this paper a typical gear system is analysed with finite elements using FlexPDE. It is shown that the gear can work well into the saturation regime and that the Halbach array gives a good approximation to the results. Replacing the permanent magnets with superconducting tapes can give large increases in torque density, and for something like a wind turbine a combined gear and generator is possible. However there are major practical problems. Perhaps the most fundamental is the large high frequency field which is inevitably present and which will cause AC losses. Also large magnetic fields are required, with all the practical problems of high field superconducting magnets in rotating machines. Nevertheless there are ways of mitigating these difficulties and it seems worthwhile to explore the possibilities of this technology further.



magnetic gears, superconducting machines, Halbach arrays

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Superconductor Science and Technology

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IOP Publishing