Stiffness Enhancement of a Superconducting Magnetic Bearing Using Shaped YBCO Bulks

High-speed superconducting motors and generators
stand to benefit from superconductor magnetic levitation bearings if their stiffness characteristics can be improved. Here we investigate a novel thrust bearing geometry, comprising a conical frustum shaped permanent magnet and matching superconducting toroid and puck assembly, aimed at producing high stiffness coupled with high levitation force. To this end, we have constructed a bearing test rig enabling measurements of the levitation force and stiffness of the assembly of YBa2Cu3O7-d melt-textured bulks and Nd2Fe14B permanent magnet at temperatures down to 47 K. The experimental results are supported by finite element modeling that is validated against the experiment, and used to quantify the advantages of this configuration over a conventional cylindrical magnet and HTS puck arrangement.
For axial displacements, the assembly produces higher and more consistent stiffness together with stronger restoring forces. For lateral displacements, the assembly produces up to double the lateral force and up to four times the stiffness. Our study also shows that the force contribution to the assembly from the small inner puck is negligible and it can therefore be eliminated from the bearing design.