LLNL and Arnold Magnetic Technologies collaborate on passive magnetic bearing system

May. 26, 2010

LLNL and Arnold Magnetic Technologies collaborate on passive magnetic bearing system

LIVERMORE, Calif. -- Arnold Magnetic Technologies (Arnold) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have signed an agreement to start working together on a passive magnetic bearing system initially intended for bulk storage flywheel energy storage systems, but one that may also be transferable to other applications.

This collaboration combines research and analysis performed by LLNL's Richard Post, who has many years of experience in magnetic theory and a large portfolio of resultant inventions, along with Arnold's more than 70 years of industry experience and expertise in design and manufacturing of high performance magnets and precision magnetic assemblies.

Passive magnetic bearings are currently used today, in limited quantity, in uninterruptible power supplies, such as flywheel energy storage systems, as well as couplers, motors, compressors, generators, magnetic levitation transportation, and even medical devices.

They have many advantages over "active" magnetic bearing systems, which employ electromagnets. In contrast, passive magnetic bearings, as developed at LLNL, do not use electromagnets, and therefore neither require electrical power for operation nor the complicated sensors and control circuits that are required to stabilize an active magnetic bearing system.

"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.

Post and others at LLNL also are enthusiastic about the collaboration because of the opportunities it brings for the commercialization of new ideas that have come out of research projects at the Laboratory.

"Dick Post's passive magnetic bearings bring energy efficiency to a new level of sophistication," said Annemarie Meike, a business development executive at LLNL. "The world rolls on bearings and these passive magnetic bearings have the potential to render a broad range of technologies commercially viable through mechanical and energy efficiency."

Upon completion of the design and construction of the passive magnetic bearing system, which is estimated to take about six months, both LLNL and Arnold will have prototypes for testing and demonstration to potential users. The work is being performed under a demonstration Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA).

Headquartered in Rochester, N.Y., Arnold Magnetic Technologies (www.arnoldmagnetics.com) is a private company with six facilities in the United States, two in Europe and two in Asia producing permanent and bonded magnets, precision assemblies, reprographic assemblies, field shaping electromagnets, and ultra-thin foils for magnetic and non-magnetic applications. With more than a 100- year history, Arnold serves a wide range of customers and markets. For more information, contact Arnold at infona [at] arnoldmagnetics.com ( infona [at] arnoldmagnetics.com ) .