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Clean Power Researchers have modified the generator's design so that components manufactured using PIM, Powder Injection Moulding, could be installed.
Image Credit: Universidad Carlos III de Madrid - Oficina de Información Científica

Published on March 30th, 2014 | by James Ayre

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MAGNETIDE Project — Purpose Designed Generator For Tidal Energy Technologies

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March 30th, 2014 by  

The EU’s MAGNETIDE project continues to move forward — 14 months into the projected 24-month development program, the gains are becoming apparent.

The project — which is intended to result in the development of a purpose-designed generator for wave energy extraction — has managed to reduce the cost of the system while increasing the efficiency by up to 30%. These improvements were achieved via the modification of the generator’s design, so that components manufactured using PIM, Powder Injection Moulding, could be installed.

Researchers have modified the generator's design so that components manufactured using PIM, Powder Injection Moulding, could be installed. Image Credit: Universidad Carlos III de Madrid - Oficina de Información Científica

Researchers have modified the generator’s design so that components manufactured using PIM, Powder Injection Moulding, could be installed.
Image Credit: Universidad Carlos III de Madrid – Oficina de Información Científica

“These generators use magnetic components that we are producing using PIM technology, which turns out to be more versatile when it comes to modifying the compositions and makes it possible to get the parts for a lower price,” states professor José Manuel Torralba, the researcher who is coordinating UC3M’s participation in the project.

This powder injection moulding has shown itself to be an available alternative to more-conventional approaches in the (relatively) fast manufacture of complex parts — as a paper the researchers recently published in the International Journal of Microstructure and Materials Properties has shown.

The press release from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid – Oficina de Información Científica provides more:

Powder Injection Moulding is an advanced powder metallurgy technology that combines the advantages of plastic injection moulding and powder technology. It is similar to making bread in an oven but, rather than flour, it uses alloys of metallic powders that “bake” in moulds and produce milimetrically exact parts. In this case, the scientists are studying the best combination of metallic powders with a magnetic character (iron, silicon, cobalt, nickel…) in order to later inject them into a polymer plastic mould that will allow them to create complex parts that are difficult and expensive to produce mechanically.

“The great advantage of this technology is that once you design the material, by modifying the mould, it is easy to manufacture millions of pieces that are exactly the same, in a manner that is simple, fast and quite inexpensive,” Torralba explains.

The MAGNETIDE project is expected to wrap up next year, when the researchers are expected to have created the first prototypes of the new generators made with this technology. These generators — also potentially useful for other energy sources, such as wind — will then be tested in real-world conditions, in locations where there are strong tidal currents.

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • JamesWimberley

    The project targets tidal energy, not wave. Tidal plants. whether lagoon or tidal flow, use submerged turbines of conventional design. Wave power first has to transform oscillations into a form that can drive a turbine, like compressed air; this is where the problems arise, so tidal is more advanced.

    Some large wind turbine designs have already shifted from geared to gearless, making them more reliable at the price of much more neodymium for magnets. The aim of MAGNETIDE is to design a gearless underwater turbine using cast permanent magnets. The Madrid work cited here on injection moulding of components, if it pans out, would not at first sight be very specific to the application.

    • Gwennedd

      I am not sure that placing bladed turbines in waters inhabited ( as all waters are) by fish an other marine life. They put the marine life at risk of being damaged or killed by the blades.

      • Bob_Wallace

        When the first (one of the first) tidal turbines was tested it was allowed to run only during daylight hours and had to have biologists in the water observing any damage to marine life.

        After a couple of days they did away with all the observation requirements. It was very clear to all that the slow moving blades were no danger to anything. Fish easily avoided contact.

        • Gwennedd

          Ah..good to know. That relieves my mind about these turbines. I hope they test well and can be implemented in most coastal waters. I live in a city in an inlet well away from the sea. It would be a perfect spot for tidal turbines, but they would have to be marked well, or fishermen would be getting their tackle constantly tangled up in the blades.

  • WoodrowAWalters

    “The great advantage of this technology is that once you design the material, by modifying the mould, it is easy to manufacture millions of pieces that are exactly the same, in a manner that is simple, fast and quite inexpensive,” Torralba explains. http://qr.net/rzFQ

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