We relish in the exploits of superheroes like Ironman, Superman and others who delve into the unknown seeking the means to control new materials with amazing properties for the betterment of mankind. These fictional heroes would be impressed by events going on in the real world at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). NETL announced on May 8 that the lab’s magnetics research is expected to create significant opportunities for advances in the power sector.
Most folks are aware that NETL is involved in all kinds of research that targets improvements in efficiency, reduction in size and improvements in the capabilities of various energy technologies. Their research covers a range of applications including power electronics, transformers, electrical machinery and more. Now we know they are doing things formerly reserved for superheroes (only kidding).
NETL’s exploit of interest here is highlighted in “Recent Developments in the Processing of Advanced Magnetic Materials,” published in the May 2018 issue of the Journal of Minerals, Metals and Materials. The report reveals NETL’s development of new soft magnetic materials with huge potential for optimizing electromagnetic components produced using advanced processing technologies. This specialty area is a mouthful: metal amorphous nanocomposite (MANC) alloys. MANC alloys show great promise for a range of inductive components where the improvement goals include achieving higher power density and higher efficiency power conversion. The research involves a specialized manufacturing process that modifies how metal cores are made for inductors, transformers and rotating electrical machinery leading to improved temperature control and lower overall power losses. You can find an abstract of the heady paper on NETL’s research here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11837-018-2857-5.
It may be a little while before we see equipment using the new manufacturing process for MANC alloys in use, but this area has such promise that NETL is planning a new Electromagnetic Component Fabrication and Testing Laboratory to fabricate advanced prototype components and support research that will have many applications related to electric grid modernization. Super hero stuff for sure!