The technology of magnetic materials preserves energy
According to the statistics of the University of Chicago, 50% of the power of the United States passes through the engine. Just like cars and planes rely on its rotation, so do household devices, dust busters and refrigerators, just pieces of plastic without energy conversion. Since this technology is so large, more efficient engines can significantly affect global energy consumption.
When the engine is in the process of converting electrical energy into mechanical energy, alternating current creates a magnetic field of materials inside it. Then the magnetic dipoles switch from north to south, and the engine starts rotating. The mentioned jump causes it to heat up, losing energy at the same time.
But what if the unit does not heat up when rotating at high speed? Michael McHenry, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, and his group, decided to deal with this issue. They came to solve the problem by synthesizing metal amorphous nanocomposite materials (MANK). It is a class of soft magnetic substances that are effective for converting energy at high frequencies.
“The power of the engine depends on its pace,” McHenry commented. “When you rotate the engine at high speeds, the magnet switches more frequently. The main materials, which make up the majority of engines, lose power at higher frequencies due to heating.”
Prospects of magnetic materials technology
Currently, the usual engines are made of silicon steels. The MANKs are an alternative to them. Due to the high resistivity (so strongly it resists electric current), this material does not heat so much and therefore can rotate much faster.
McHenry Group in collaboration with the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), NASA Research Center and the University of North Carolina are developing a 2.5 kilowatt engine, which weighs less than two kilograms. Recent studies showed a result of 6000 rpm. However, scientists hope to create a larger size engine that will rotate even faster.
The McHenry group is one of the few who demonstrate the use of MANK for practical purposes, engines. They also use unique patented materials which are a combination of iron and cobalt, as well as iron and nickel mixed with glass-forming agents. The effectiveness of MANK allows to use cheaper magnets that do not require rare parts in the engine design.
While researchers conduct laboratory tests, collaboration with industry companies and other researchers can lead to scaling of magnetic material technology in and subsequent use in industry.