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Homopolar Machines Enabled With Electron Current Transfer Technology

Advanced Magnet Lab
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$541,184
Location: 
Palm Bay, FL
Project Term: 
10/01/2019 to 12/31/2020
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Homopolar motors are the simplest electro-mechanical conversion systems possible, using direct current to power rotational movement. The difficulty of establishing reliable and efficient direct current (DC) transfer from a stationary to a rotating system has prevented homopolar machines from being competitive with synchronous or brushless DC machines that use rotating magnetic fields to avoid sliding contacts or other means of current transfer.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Advanced Magnet Lab (AML) is developing a reliable, contact-free current transfer mechanism from a stationary to a rotating electrode to allow direct current (DC) electrical machines, motors, and generators to achieve unprecedented power and torque density. This technology, a reimagining of the first electric "homopolar" motor invented by Michael Faraday, would provide current transfer without the need for the costly sliding contacts, brushes, and liquids that have limited DC electrical engine efficiency and lifetime. AML's contact-free current transfer would achieve 99% efficiency in DC electrical motors with 5-10 times the power and torque densities available in existing DC technologies.
Potential Impact: 
An efficient, economical, high-magnetic-field, high-rpm homopolar generator/motor would revolutionize power generation, aviation and transportation industries and, due to DC power generation, would be ideally matched to DC micro grids for many applications.
Security: 
Generators producing DC will significantly improve the reliability and security of a resilient electrical grid.
Environment: 
The transportation and electric power sectors account for nearly 75% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions each year. More efficient and economical motors will encourage wider use of EVs and wind power, significantly reducing emissions.
Economy: 
A homopolar machine using superconductivity has the potential to achieve greater than 30kW/kg, which represents a significant leap forward in electromagnetic component weight reduction. For example, one to two thousand dollars per pound of weight saved are reasonable values for commercial aircraft.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. David Tew
Project Contact: 
Dr. Philippe Masson
Partners
Eagle Power Technologies
North Carolina State University
Release Date: 
11/15/2018