Department of Engineering / News / New magnet technology attracts funding

Department of Engineering

New magnet technology attracts funding

New magnet technology attracts funding


A Department of Engineering spin-out company has received proof of concept funding to push out a new type of magnet that could find itself rolled out across several multi-million pound industry sectors within the next two years.

Machinery, which already uses magnets, could be also made smaller, lighter and more cheaply by using superconducting magnets.

Dr Tim Coombs

Magnifye has used £39k of East of England Development Agency funding to test the market for its innovative method of magnetising superconducting material which can create magnets over 10 times stronger than conventionally produced magnets.

The increased density of the superconducting bulk magnets overcomes issues of limited power due to the size of magnets currently in operation and could lead to cars with electric motors small enough to fit in a wheel hub, wind turbines producing greater amounts of energy and MRI scanners or particle accelerators with greater efficiency.

The system has been developed by Dr Tim Coombs, a senior lecturer here at the Department of Engineering. “We are creating new roles for magnets by making them much smaller and more powerful,” said Tim. “Machinery, which already uses magnets, could be also made smaller, lighter and more cheaply by using superconducting magnets.

“Magnets are already part of everyday life but their use is often limited by the size of the magnets needed for the task.”

The marine division of engineering firm, BMT Group, is putting together a specification for a pilot project with Magnifye, joining at least two automotive and medtech companies already tapping in to the new magnets.

IMRA, the European Research & Development division with an electromagnetic focus of Aisin, Japan’s top components and systems manufacturers for the automotive industry and the organisation behind the trans-mission on Toyota’s Prius, a pioneer of hybrid motoring.

In the medtech arena Magnifye's exclusive negotiations progress with one of the world’s top medical devices firms, Italy’s Esaote.

Magnifye uses a heat engine which converts thermal energy into currents of millions of amps to create these super magnets, generating a series of magnetic waves which progressively magnetise the super-conductor much in the same way a nail can be magnetised by stroking it over a magnet.

As long as the superconductor stays cold, these will flow uninterrupted, providing powerful, stable magnetic fields, creating powerful magnets small enough to fit in the palm of the hand or large enough to power a cruise liner.

“A single-inch diameter puck could potentially lift a seven tonne truck,” said Tim.

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