AML Product Platforms and their Applications
Over the course of nearly 20 years, AML has developed unique know how, experience and capabilities to establish a foundation of advanced technologies: superconductivity, magnetics, composites, cryogenics and manufacturing. Fully integrated with the our Perfect-Field Application Development Process, these foundation technologies have been leveraged into AML’s portfolio of product platforms that will dramatically improve a wide array of high-value applications by making them more efficient, smaller and lighter.
At the heart of AML’s product platforms: the world’s most advanced superconducting and resistive magnet systems
Just as the familiar “Intel Inside’ slogan expresses the role of Intel’s processors in driving the world’s computing devices, AML’s advanced magnet systems can now be considered the heart of a revolutionary new class of integrated products that can enable new applications in energy, medicine, and environmental science. These innovative new magnet systems, developed with AML’s revolutionary Perfect-Field process, have been independently validated in such demanding applications as high-energy physics. They represent a bold advance in magnet technology—redefining standards for manufacturability, capability, performance and reliability.
Protected with layers of intellectual property (IP), product platforms include Rotating Machines, Power Distribution, High-Field Magnets and Precision Medical Magnets.
All of these can be demonstrated, adapted and fully developed for a broad range of applications, including large generators, industrial motors, synchronous condensers, power conversion and distribution products, and high-field industrial and medical magnet solutions.
AML’s business model seeks to leverage these core platforms for market-focused product development with visionary companies who demonstrate the capacity and motivation to address game-changing energy, water and environmental applications.
Superconductivity significantly increases energy efficiency and dramatically reduces the size and weight in rotating machines such as motors and generators. Additionally, these systems are environmentally friendly and eliminate the need for rare earth materials that are in scarce supply.
Depending on the applications, there are additional benefits such as for large, offshore wind turbine generators, where a 50% reduction in size and weight significantly decreases the cost of producing electrical power by enabling more cost-effective wind farms.
AML replaces conventional magnet windings with advanced coil technologies such as our Double-HelixTM and Stacked Saddle CoilsTM–implemented with advanced superconducting materials. This provides higher magnetic flux density that results in stronger magnetic fields and torque. Our development process also optimizes such critical design factors as thermal management, lower mass, size and production cost.
For copper-based applications, our Direct Double-HelixTM and Transparent CoilsTM provide extremely high power capabilities in a compact package–actually rivaling superconductivity for power density.
Motors and generators
For industries ranging from utilities and mining, to chemical processing and heavy manufacturing, energy delivery and consumption represents a large and often volatile cost factor that can dramatically impact profitability and market competitiveness.
Superconductivity and advanced resistive magnetic technologies can alter the energy dynamic – with a new class of large generators and motors that offer much lower operating costs and vastly improved efficiency and performance.
Considering the fact that large motors (1,000+ HP) consume over one-third of all electricity produced in the US, the global impact in terms of efficiency improvement realized by such machines will be very significant.
Planes, trains and ships all use great volumes of oil–accounting for nearly 15% of total transportation-related oil consumption in the United States. Planes are the hungriest of the group, consuming well over one-million barrels of oil per day. A recently disclosed report1 finds that airlines are spewing 20% more carbon dioxide into the environment than previously estimated and the amount could hit 1.5 billion tons a year by 2025.
Across the spectrum of transportation modes, the common vision is the application of all-electric propulsion for cleaner, quieter and more efficient transportation. Superconducting propulsion motors are the transformational next step. Replacing copper with superconductors for large machines and nanomaterials for smaller applications such as electric vehicles, is the transformational step needed for electric powered transportation. Key constraints are the ability to apply the chief benefit of these conductors–very high power densities–into specific motor and application configurations reliably and cost-competitively.
Commercially viable superconducting rotating machines configured for high-speed propulsion systems will be significantly smaller and lighter, and enable next-generation transportation systems such as all-electric ships, airplanes and airships. The result: transportation that is more fuel-efficient, quieter and environmentally benign.
NASA, the US Air Force and large airplane manufacturers are now seeking to harness the ultimate solution: turbo-electric propulsion. A few examples, and areas where AML is leading the way, include superconducting rotating machines to meet NASA’s goals for future hybrid-electric commercial aircraft. For airplanes, what began as gas-fueled engines driving propellers, evolved into gas powered turbojets and today’s standard, turbofans. Turbo-electric propulsion is the obvious next step, with electric machines that are as compact and powerful as gas turbines.
Today’s turbofans, driven by gas turbines, would be replaced with high-power superconducting motors driving ducted fans. Large commercial aircraft require tens of megawatts of propulsion power, excluding the use of conventional high-weight electric energy systems. The electrical power is expected to be generated by high-speed, superconducting turbo-generators burning jet fuel or hydrogen.
The U.S. Navy wants to develop all-electric ships to make more efficient use of on-board power and to cut fuel consumption. Large cruise ships see additional benefits with quieter propulsion motors: they can increase the number of passenger cabins by locating them closer to “engine” rooms. AML’s development of large industrial motors directly addresses ship propulsion.
For electrical vehicles, the key is the application of advanced nanomaterials with ideal material characteristics to significantly improve energy efficiency. AML’s Perfect-Field Development Process enables use of these materials in motor coils, leveraging the ability to integrate the conductor “formation” directly into the manufacturing process. Additionally, AML’s coil configurations can be fully optimized to electrical resistance and cooling to achieve unprecedented power densities.
Superconducting Synchronous Condensers
Worldwide energy trends include increased use of renewable energy, implementation of distributed generation, and increased concern regarding the reliability and power quality of the newly emerging power electrical grid system. Large industrial power users and utilities are impacted by high levels of unusable, reactive power, which requires increased capacity of power plants and transmission lines. Every year, billions of dollars are lost due to momentary power quality problems.
A synchronous condenser is a “free spinning” rotating machine, which can be dynamically controlled to either generate or absorb unusable power, called reactive power, to adjust the grid’s voltage, or to improve power factor. Power factor is a measure of how efficiently we use electricity. Furthermore, the stored energy in a synchronous condenser can help stabilize a power system during short circuits or rapidly fluctuating industry loads such as electric arc furnaces.
The intrinsic simplicity of free spinning synchronous machines and their dynamic adjustability offer significant advantages over capacitor banks for controlling power factors on electrical grids. AML’s ability of introducing cost competitive superconducting machines, including synchronous condensers, offers an economic solution to increase the capacities of existing power plants and transmission grids. The intrinsic high efficiency of superconducting electrical machines and their unprecedented reliability, make superconducting synchronous condensers an important solution for the worldwide increasing demands of electrical power.
Superconducting synchronous condensers have several advantages over existing capacitor bank methods:
- Dynamic adjustment of power factor and low harmonics
- High reliability
- Low maintenance
- Long life (almost 25 years)
The increasing demand for energy to drive industrial facilities such as large data centers and electro-refineries puts significant pressure on cost of operations. Today, these large users face growth challenges due to the limits of current power delivery and cooling technologies, as well as the undesirable environmental impact of increased energy use.
For example, data centers are notoriously large consumers of electricity; cumulatively using nearly 3% of the total US electric supply. Many enterprise data centers use over 20 megawatts of power–the equivalent consumption of approximately 10,000 homes.
Optimizing the efficiency of power delivery and power consumption, as well as managing the cost and impact of growth and expansion, is very important factors in profitable operation of power-intensive facilities.
AML’s CryoChannel™ Power Distribution Modules
AML has developed a differentiated power delivery approach, based on unique experience and proprietary technology addressing the power infrastructure. The system minimizes energy losses over long transmission distances and provides the ability to incrementally scaling capital expenditures to optimize the cost of energy.
CryoChannelTM for power distribution offers several advantages over conventional, copper bus-bar systems, including:
- High efficiency – 5.5% points higher than copper cable
- Modularity – allows for “build as you need” deployment of data centers
- Scalability – extends facility life and saves infrastructure costs
- Lower cost – compared to copper transmission
- Reliability – equal to or better than water cooling systems implemented
- Compatible – with DC alternative energy source such as solar farms
Superconductivity enables the application of very large magnetic fields for use on the electrical grid and in industrial processes. The fundamental properties of superconducting materials allow optimum performance for such applications as magnetic separators and high-efficiency energy storage—performance that cannot be achieved with conventional materials such as copper.
While high-field magnets exceeding several Tesla are available, their commercial application has been limited due to high cost and basic “solenoid” field configurations. AML’s Perfect-FieldTM Application Development Process enables unique magnetic field characteristics and novel packaging configurations for enabling high-performance, yet cost-effective, processes for forestry, mining and manufacturing.
Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage (SMES)
Modernizing the electric system will help the nation meet projected energy needs—including addressing climate change by integrating more energy from renewable sources and enhancing the efficiency of non-renewable energy processes. High levels of renewable energy generation will significantly impact the performance, reliability and supply-and-demand balance of the electricity grid. This is principally because of the variability of renewable resources and the lack of large-scale economical energy storage capability. Finally, energy storage can be instrumental for emergency preparedness because of its ability to provide backup power as well as grid stabilization services.
Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage (SMES) is a means of storing large amounts of energy in a magnetic field of a superconducting magnet. In principle, once the magnet is charged, the electrical current will not deteriorate and the magnetic energy can be stored for an indefinite period of time. The stored energy is released whenever needed by discharging the coil. These systems are highly efficient (95%+) at storing electricity and provide both real and reactive power. More efficient than competing technologies such as large capacitors and flywheels. Additionally, SMES can provide grid stability in distribution systems, and can assure power quality at manufacturing plants requiring ultra-clean power, such as microchip fabrication facilities.
SMES systems have several advantages over mechanical and chemical energy conversion storage methods, such as:
- Permanent storage–stored energy may be held indefinitely, with no standby losses
- Immediate response–capable of almost instantaneous response
- Fast charging–needed for UPS and power-quality applications
- Long-life–independent of duty-cycle; no chemicals and no thermo cycles
- High efficiency–round trip efficiency is above 95%
- High reliability–no moving parts
The US Department of Energy has identified four challenges related to the widespread deployment of energy storage: cost competitive energy storage technologies (including manufacturing and grid integration), validated reliability and safety, equitable regulatory environment, and industry acceptance.
AML magnet technologies such as Double-HelixTM (DH) winding configurations have unique potential for producing highly reliable and economical superconducting coils for applications in SMES systems. Such systems will help meet the increasing demand for economic storage systems for the power grid.
DH addresses cost and reliability issues–the key challenges of configuring high-capacity energy storage solutions. SMES requires magnets to operate at very high magnetic fields (exceeding 10 Tesla) that place very high magnetic forces on the coil windings, which impacts the stability of the system. AML’s DH technology is intrinsically robust to boost stability and reliability; and it also enables much lower manufacturing cost than conventional solutions.
Industrial Processes – Magnetic Separation
Magnetic Separation is a mature, well-established technology successfully applied in the minerals processing industry for over a century. The application of superconducting magnet technology greatly expands its application into key sectors such as mining, manufacturing, medicine and environmental technology.
Magnetic separation is a process in which magnetically susceptible material is extracted from a “mixture” using a magnetic force. Magnetic separation applications date backs to the 19th century as a means for iron ore concentration. Today, the mining industry remains the largest user of magnetic separation for material sorting, ore treatment and mineral improvement. The most well-known, large-scale application is for kaolin clay processing. Kaolin is used extensively in paper and ceramic products and has an annual production value of more than three billion dollars. Kaolin is a white mineral whose value depends on its brightness, so magnetic separation is used to remove the darker, more magnetic particles in the clay.
For water and the environment [Link to Environmental Applications page], magnetic separation provides a powerful means for conditioning and re-use of material resources. In addition, it can treat municipal and industrial wastewater, enhance desalination processes, and provide drinking water from groundwater in developing countries.
The technology of superconducting magnetic separation offers efficient, low-cost solutions for these and many other applications. The range of potential beneficiaries of the technology is vast, enabling rapid solution of many of the world’s most serious environmental problems while keeping industry operating cost-efficiently. As with other applications where superconductivity is clearly validated as effective, AML has improved the economics to greatly enhance commercial viability. There therefore exists an unprecedented opportunity to build on AML’s high-field magnet technologies to address a global demand for an improved environment.
Precision Medical Magnets
Sophisticated magnets have been in use in medical diagnostics such as medical Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for decades; and today, one of the most effective methods for eradicating cancerous tumors, Proton Therapy, requires such magnets for generating and precisely delivering a proton beam.
Globally, medical researchers yearn for the capability to employ precisely shaped, controlled and deeply penetrating magnetic fields. Such a tool set has promises of addressing some of medicine’s most challenging diagnostic and treatment procedures, including cancer, heart disease and neurological disorders.
AML’s Perfect-Field Application Development Process removes the constraints that currently exist with conventional magnet technologies. It provides a new set of tools for developing advanced medical magnet solutions, including three-dimensional field shaping, higher power densities for greater depth penetration, and precision field focusing. These capabilities empower researchers to significantly improve or explore new medical magnet techniques, such as:
- Novel Field Shapes
- 3D Field Rotation
- Charged Particle Beam Optics
- Fluid Treatment
- In-body Tool Navigation
- Magnetic Separation
- Particle Navigation
AML’s business approach is focused on medical magnet capabilities, which enable demonstration and validation of techniques without requiring an in-depth knowledge of a specific medical treatment. We leave the specific application to the medical experts. One example is demonstrating navigation of particles in phantoms (the technique), independent of the particular targeted drug or medical treatment.
AML’s experience in novel medical magnet solutions includes the areas of MRI, Proton Therapy, In-Body Navigation, Fluid Treatment and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. Innovative procedures such as these will significantly improve treatment success rates, reduce recovery times and enhance overall patient care.
- Cost Benefit Analysis and Adjustments of Corporate Social Responsibility in the Airline Industry, Roman Asatryan–World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology, International Journal of Social, Human Science and Engineering Vol: 7 No:12, 2013 ↩