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Contactless gear reducer uses magnets as leverage

Posted: 08 Dec 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:University Carlos III of Madrid  gear reducer  magnetism  transmission mechanism 

A team of researchers from University Carlos III of Madrid has developed an innovative gear reducer that eliminates contact among parts through the use of magnetism. The research is being carried out under the support of MAGDRIVE, a European research project coordinated by Jose Luis Perez Diaz, a professor from the UC3M Instituto Pedro San Juan de Lastanosa, in which seven European entities participate.

The magnetic gear reducer features a mechanism that transforms speed from an input axle to another in an output axle (as in a bicycle chain mechanism or the gearbox of an automobile). Unlike a conventional gear reducer, one of the chief advantages of the magnetic gear reducer is the absence of wear among the pieces, which makes lubrication unnecessary.

As such, "the operating life of these devices can be much longer than the life of a conventional gear reducer with teeth, and can even work in cryogenic temperatures," said one of the researchers, Efren Diez Jimenez, from the UC3M department of mechanical engineering. It can even continue to function after an event of overload. If the axle is blocked, "the parts simply slide amongst themselves, but nothing breaks." In addition, less noise is produced, vibration is reduced, and it is capable of through-wall transmission.

Magnetic gear reducer

The magnetic gear reducer features a mechanism that transforms speed from an input axle to another in an output axle (as in a bicycle chain mechanism or the gearbox of an automobile).

In addition to the contactless transmission, the axles are likewise contactless. "It is the first time in history that the input axle as well as the output axle of a gear reducer are floating without any kind of contact, and it can keep a mechanism which contains nothing else spinning at 3,000 revolutions per minute at cryogenic temperatures," stated Diaz, the main researcher on the project. Although the main goal of the MAGDRIVE project is to build a prototype that can be used in extreme conditions in outer space, another one that can be used at room temperature has also been developed.

UC3M researchers developed a transmission mechanism with no touching parts

Researchers from UC3M are developing a transmission mechanism with no touching parts, based on magnetic forces which prevent friction and wear and make lubrication unnecessary. It can be applied in space travel and exploration, as well as railroad and aircraft industries.

For outer space, the cryogenic prototype has been developed. This type keeps the axles floating and it can work at a temperature of -210°C and in a vacuum. The mechanism integrates levitating superconductor bearings that generate stable forces of repulsion into its structure. This allows it to turn and, moreover, it stabilises it against oscillating motion or possible imbalances. It is the first mechanism in history that does not have this type of friction.

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