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.
“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.