Reduced-Friction Passive Magnetic Bearing: Innovative Design and Novel Characterization Technique
Received: 1 August 2013 / Revised: 1 October 2013 / Accepted: 3 October 2013 / Published: 28 October 2013
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Friction is mostly unwanted in rotating machines. In order to reduce its impact on the system, the integration of magnetic bearings is frequently regarded as a valid solution. In rotating systems like flywheel energy storage systems (FESS), mechanical losses created by mechanical bearings
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Friction is mostly unwanted in rotating machines. In order to reduce its impact on the system, the integration of magnetic bearings is frequently regarded as a valid solution. In rotating systems like flywheel energy storage systems (FESS), mechanical losses created by mechanical bearings greatly reduce the overall performance. Magnetic bearings are thus frequently integrated in FESS to eliminate mechanical losses. The simple design of passive magnetic bearings (PMBs), their inherent security, and their very low friction make them perfect candidates for FESS. The main objective, and most important contribution of this paper, is to document an innovative PMB that minimizes energy losses induced by the axial thrust bearing, and to document the methodology used to measure its stiffness and damping. Although PMBs are fairly well documented in literature, no other PMB is designed to reduce the friction generated by the thrust bearing. In order to promote their integration, it is critical to identify their mechanical properties such as stiffness and damping. Hence, another contribution of this paper is to propose a new way to easily characterize any magnetic bearing topology to replace available techniques that only provided the properties for a precise configuration of the bearing. The new technique provides an unprecedented mapping of the forces generated by complex combinations of permanent magnets. Experimental results show that the new PMB can be configured to effectively reduce the force applied to the thrust bearing, resulting in lower friction. This friction reduction is achieved while allowing the proper operation of the bearing. Results also show that the measured stiffness is different from those obtained analytically, suggesting that a magnetic bearing should always be characterized prior to its use.