Research objectives and content
Permanent magnet variable ux sources (VSF) are special magnetic circuits with moving parts which replace electromagnets. A VSF is up to 20 times smaller, and requires no high-current power supply or cooling water. The world's first general purpose VSF was launched by Magnetic Solutions in November 1996. These produce fields up to 1.2 Tesla. As the market is penetrated by these new devices competition will develop and there will be an increasing requirement for elaboration, variation and improvement of these devices. The proposed research will include: 1. Advanced design: Algebraic methods, computation and computer graphics will be used to develop new magnet designs, including hybrid systems with metal pole pieces to boost the field produced by the magnets. In particular the inverse problem, of designing a magnet to produce a desired field consistent with manufacturing constraints will be tackled.
2. Shimming strategy: Current field homogeneity is #1% in the active volume. The aim is to achieve S x 10-4. Automatic field profiling and CAD will be used to examine the engineering validity of several prototype designs. 3. Long term stability: Magnetic viscosity of new magnet materials will be measured and modelled with a view to predicting the ageing characteristis on a time scale of years. 4. Demonstrators: Beside the high homogeneity prototype, a demonstrator will be designed and built to produce a variable field up to 1.8 T.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
The proposed research is a combination of magnet engineering and commercial expertise in Magnetic Solutions Ltd and the experience of the applicant in magnetic materials research. The ultimate benefit of the training from the applicants point of view is the opportunity to be involved in the development of revolutionary new product developments in the field of permanent magnet systems. From the companies point of view the benefit of the training is an increased liklehood that the development and manufacture of advanced VFS magnet systems will take place in Europe. As new EU standards make ultra-stable high-current power supplies increasingly costly to produce, the iron core electromagnet is obsolete. The VSF development must be supported by high quality research program to keep ahead on competition which is bound to emerge in the next 2-3 years. The number of laboratory electromagnets installed in Europe and North America is approximately 5,000 with a 1 5-year life cycle and a replacement value of ECU 100 millions. To this figure must be added perhaps about 30,000 electromagnets in industrial processes, quality assurance and other instrumentation. A conservative assumption of potential VSF market penetration is 30% yielding a market of ECU 15 million a year. Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)
Current generation VFS magnet systems developed and patented by Magnetic Solutions Ltd are now available commercially and have been sold for use in academic research, industrial research and quality control applications in the EU, USA and SE Asia. Comparies adopting the new technology include Siemens GmbH, Lockheed Ma tin nc, Lake Shore Cryotronics and Gencoa Ltd. Research users include several of the CEA and CNRS labs in France, NFN labs in Italy, general university users in the U, Germany, Spain and Ireland. There is a clear industrial relevance to developing the improved VFS flux sources. Customers survey by Magnetic Solutions have indicated a healthy market for the products as and when they are developed. Magnetic Solutions Ltd maintains close co-operation with Lake Shore Cryotronics Inc, Siemens GmbH and several universities regarding specification improvements and new product development. There is strong interest from manufacturing companies using electromagnets as OEM components to replace these with VFS magnets once the homogeneity and maximum field strength have been improved. During this research project, in conjunction with the Magnetic Solutions Research and Development Department, the applicant would work closely with these industrial companies and university groups.