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【转载】my translation:磁铁发挥了高科技的吸引力  

2014-11-17 23:43:31|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Tue, 05 May 2009 08:51:00

 

大连翻译职业学院英语系  07级应英一班唐祎

One of the first objects to arouse mankind's curiosity about electrical energy — the magnet — continues to be at the heart of the most advanced electrical devices. And one Landisville manufacturer is right there too.

f you've had a knee or hip [replacement], the chances are very high that the motors used in the [surgical] hand tools had magnets from Electron Energy Corp.," said Peter Dent, the company's vice president of business development.

The company's magnets are also in the instruments that guide the space shuttle during its launch, and in the radar and control systems of fighter jets and submarines.

Many of the traveling-wave tubes that amplify the microwave signals transmitted by communications satellites are equipped with Electron Energy magnets, as is the ion-thrust propulsion system in NASA's Deep Space I probe.

"We've actually got a lot of product circulating around out of this world," Dent said.

One key to these diverse applications is the use of samarium cobalt alloys, which allows Electron Energy's magnets to retain their strong magnetic fields at temperatures up to about 1,000 F.

at enables the magnets to be used in motors, generators and other devices subjected to the intense heat of everything from sterilizing autoclaves to jet engines to outer space.

The company was one of the first to manufacture high-strength samarium cobalt magnets when they were introduced back in the 1970s, and is the only one still doing so in the United States, Dent said.

It makes its own alloys from the base metals and handles all the manufacturing steps along the way, often including the assemblies that hold the magnets.

It also assists its clients in designing devices using samarium cobalt and other rare-earth magnets, and it does research to develop new types of magnets and new ways to use them.

"Rare-earth magnets are really an enabling technology," said Michael Walmer, Electron Energy's president.

The miniaturization of everything from computers to spacecraft has become possible by the development of higher-strength magnets, an effort that Electron Energy continues to pursue using grants from a number of government agencies.

In the lab

Electron Energy's most recent research grant of $500,000 was awarded in February by the National Science Foundation for a two-year project to develop a magnet using composite layers on a microscopic, or nano, level with a potential to double the strength of the material's magnetic field.

"Theoretically, it can be done, but no one has figured out a practical way to get the energy predicted," said Jinfang Liu, the company's vice president of technology and engineering.

The company is also working on a project through a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to reduce the eddy-current losses in electrical motors. This has the potential to increase the efficiency of hybrid cars and has been promising enough to prompt an order for samples of the material, Liu said.

"In the end, it's about more energy efficiency," Dent said. "It's helping it to be a greener world by being more electric."

Yet another research project, through a $600,000 grant from NASA, has been the development of parts for a generator that could become part of a lunar station whenever the U.S. space program returns to the moon.

The company has several other smaller government research projects, Dent said, including a magnetic refrigerator for the Air Force that would use water as the heat transfer medium instead of environmentally harmful chlorofluorocarbons.

By continuing to work on research and development projects, the company is able to keep an open mind about all the possibilities for new products it might help design and manufacture, Liu said.

"We're interested in all related technology," he said.

As the only remaining U.S. company manufacturing these kinds of magnets, it's important for Electron Energy to stay on the leading edge of research, Liu said.

Such innovation is vital for the country's defense, Dent said.

"It's very strategically important that people here can supply the material, as opposed to buying the material somewhere in Asia or elsewhere," he said.

Start to finish

Electron Energy's magnets start out as barrels of pure metal chips.

Some of the metals are expensive, but they are not rare, Liu said, explaining that rare earth is simply a term applied to a series of the heavier atoms on the periodic table of elements, such as samarium.

These particular elements lend themselves to the manufacture of permanent magnets because of their high order of structural alignment.

The alloys used in Electron Energy's magnets include iron, copper and zirconium in addition to samarium and cobalt.

The metals are melted in a high-heat vacuum furnace, and the resulting alloy is broken up and crushed into particles about the size of sand.

The alloys are then ground to a talclike consistency in milling machines, down to the level of single crystals with single magnetic domains.

The isopropyl alcohol used in some of the milling machines and the metallic powder itself are highly flammable, requiring special tools such as $700 spark-free crescent wrenches and containment areas where the powders are dried in an environment of argon and nitrogen gases.

Enough of the powder is held in storage to meet periods of peak demand.

"We have lots and lots of different grades," Dent said. "We probably have the largest offering of samarium cobalt material in the world."

The powders are put into molds and pressed into the desired shapes under a magnetic field to align the metallic crystals.

The pressings are then sintered, a process that increases their density and strength by heating them in furnaces up to 2,000 F.

"A lot of the magic in getting the magnetic properties just right occurs here," Dent said.

The sintered magnets are machined to size, which in some cases involves cutting them out of larger blocks.

The finished magnets are then subjected to a quick pulse in a high magnetic field to make their magnetic properties permanent.

The wire-fed electrical discharge machine used for the cutting is also used to make tools for other parts of the plant and to make some of the parts for magnet assemblies.

Those assemblies may hold as many as 600 individual magnets.

Some of the magnets the company works with are made of neodymium iron boron, a rare-earth alloy that Electron Energy buys from other producers. That alloy has higher magnetic energy but lower heat tolerances than samarium cobalt, making it more suitable for a variety of applications.

A constant pull

Electron Energy got its start back in 1970 shortly after samarium cobalt magnets were first developed.

The company's founder, Marlin Walmer, was a metallurgical engineer who developed a process to produce the platinum cobalt magnets that were key to the invention of the world's first electrical wristwatches for the Hamilton Watch Co, his son Michael Walmer said.

He started Electron Energy in a milk parlor near Manheim with two employees and a license from the Air Force to develop the new samarium cobalt technology based on its patent.

Since then, the company has added a number of its own patents based on its research in magnet technology. Marlin Walmer headed the company until his death in 1999 in a plane crash.

In the industry's heyday, there were about 6,000 employees producing magnets in the U.S., Dent said. Now, the total U.S. employment in magnetics is about 400, and 110 of those people work for Electron Energy.

Companies that once manufactured magnets include Raytheon and General Electric.

Raytheon was once a competitor. Now, it's a customer, Walmer said.

Electron Energy stayed in business by being selective in the markets it served, staying away from the high-volume products used in cars, cell phones and computers, and concentrating on advanced technologies.

"We're not trying to compete with low-cost producers," Liu said. "The technical content is very important for us."

Still, Liu doesn't rule out a major expansion down the road if the company develops a technological breakthrough with accompanying patents that would protect an investment in increased production capacity.

Earlier breakthroughs in the field came in the late 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Liu said.

"Since then we have seen a lot of incremental changes, but there has not been a new generation of rare-earth magnets since the late 1980s," he said.

The research the company is pursuing to develop nanotechnology for the construction of composite magnets could offer that breakthrough and take the miniaturization and efficiency of electrical devices to a new level.

"Everybody else is talking about a recession," Liu said. "We're not in a recession. We're expanding."

http://www.freeenergy.ca/news/118/ARTICLE/1544/2009-05-05.html

最早引起人们对电能好奇心的物体之—-磁铁-现在仍是最先进电力装置的核心。而且一个Landisville制造厂也在这。

商业发展公司的副总裁Peter Dent说:“  如果你已经安装了人造膝关节或髋关节,很可能用于外科手术的器械的发动机里有来自于电子能源公司的磁铁.”

公司的磁铁也放在仪器里了,这个磁铁可以引导飞机着落,同时也存在雷达和战斗机和潜艇的控制系统中。行波管中的许多可以扩大微波信号,这些信号能用装备有电子能磁铁的通信卫星传播,这就是在国家航天局和宇宙航行局外部空间探索离子推进系统。

Dent说:“我们实际上的到很多不切合实际的副产品”,这些不同应用的关键是钐镍钴定向凝固共晶合金,它能让温度达到1000F以上是电子能磁铁仍能保持它们的强大磁场。

从而使磁铁得以应用于处于极端高温环境中的马达,发电机以及其它设备。任何高温环境---从高温消毒到喷气式引擎到外太空---都可以。

公司是第一个生产高强度的钐钴定向凝固共晶合金磁体,它早在20世纪70年代就被引入,Dent说:“只是唯一一个仍然还在美国从事这一行业的公司。”

它从贱金属中提取自己的合金,也依据这种方法来完成所有的生产流程,其中还包括用磁铁的装配。

它同时也帮助他的客户设计用钐镍钴定向凝固共晶合金和其它的稀土永磁的装置,同时他也探索发展一种新型磁铁以及一种新的使用磁铁的方式。

电子能源公司的副总裁Michael Walmer说:“稀土永磁确实是一个有益的科技。

是高强度的磁铁使诸如电脑和宇宙飞船等的小型化成为可能,电子能公仍在努力,希望能够从许多政府机构中获取一些补助金。

Electron Energy 最近的一次50万元科研大奖于今年2月份由国家科学基金会颁发给了一个为期两年的项目。该项目的目的是开发一种磁铁。这种磁铁使用了显微或纳米集成磁铁层,有可能使物质的磁场加倍。

公司主管科技和工程的副总裁刘金芳说:“在理论上,它是可以做到的,但是目前为止还没有人等找到一个切实可行的方法来获取这种可预估的能源。”

公司同时也从美国电能局拨款75万,致力于减少发动机涡流流失项目上。刘说:“这个项目有增加组装车效能的潜力且还非常有希望能促进材料样本的订单。”

“最终,可能有更多的效能”,Dent说,“通过得到更多的电力帮助使它变成一个更加绿色的世界。”

还有另一个研究计划,已经从国家航空和宇宙航行局拨款60万在发展发电机的零件上,无论美国航空程序何时返回月球,这个发电机都能变成月球站的一部分。

这个公司同时有几个小的征服研究课题,Dent说,其中包括为空军制造磁制冷机,它用水作为转换介质代替原有的对环境有害的碳氟化合物。

因为公司一直致力于研究和发展项目,所以公司愿意听从所有有助于设计和制造的建议,刘说

他说:“我们对所有相关的技术都感兴趣。”

作为唯一剩下的生产这些类型的磁铁美国公司,电子能公司保持领先的地位是很重要的,刘说。

Dent说:“像这样创新对美国国防部是极其重要的。”

他说:“它具有战略上重要性以至于在这儿人提供材料,相反他们到亚洲的一些地方或其他的地方购买材料。”

电子能的磁铁始于纯金属芯片的枪管。

开始完成

一些金属是昂贵的,但他们绝非稀有金属,刘并解释说稀土只是一个简单的术语,它适用于元素周期表中重原子一族,比如说钐。

这些特别的元素很适合做永磁,因为他们有相似的直线结构。

用于电子能的磁铁包括铁,铜和锆,除此之外,还有钐和钴。

这些金属在一个高热真空的熔炉中溶解,因此这个合金被分解,然后被挤压成沙子大小。

然后在铣床上把合金切削到与云母一致,直到单晶单磁畴程度。

有一些铣床机器里使用的异丙醇以及金属本身也具有很高的可燃性,他们需要用特殊的工具例如7百美元的无火花一扳和抑制区域-就是可以在氩氮气体条件下是粉末干燥的地方。

要贮存足够多的粉末以满足高峰期的需求。

“我们有很多很多的品级” Dent 说:“我们可能是世界上最大的钐和钴的供应商”

将粉末放入模具中,它在磁场的作用下能压出我们所需要的形状,然后对齐晶体。

受压后,然后烧结,其全过程是在熔炉中把温度加热到2千来增加它们的密度和强度。

Dent说:“很多得到磁能的魔法就是发生在这”

烧结磁体加工出一个型号,它在某些区域涉及到削减大一点的障碍物。

已完成的磁铁随之能在高磁场中产生一个快的脉冲,使他们能够创造出永久的磁能。

电线馈电火花机用于切割也是用来制造工具,其他地方的工厂,也有一些地区的做磁铁组件。

这些组件可能需要多于600个的单独磁铁。

一些磁铁公司的是用钕、铁、和硼做原料,电子能公司可以从其他的制造商能买到稀土合金。这种合金具有更高的磁能且比钐钴更能耐低温,这一点使它更能满足各种应用。

电子能公司建于1970年,不久之后,钐钴磁铁就首次发展了。

这家公司的创始人,Marlin Walmer,是一位冶金学的工程师,他发展了一个生产铂金磁铁的过程,这也是发明世界上第一块手表的汉密尔顿公司发明成功的关键,他的儿子Michael Walmer 说。

他和两位员工在Manheim附近的牛奶厂里创立了电子能公司并且美国空军许可在他专利的基础上进一步发展新的钐钴技术。

从那以后,公司在他研究的磁铁技术上添加了一系列的自己的专利。Marlin Walmer一直带领公司直到他去世于1999年的那一场空难。

在工业最繁荣的时期,在美国有6000员工生产磁铁。现在美国大约有100人从事磁学研究,他们中有110人为电子能公司工作的。

曾经制造工磁铁的公司还包括:Raytheon and General Electric. Raytheon曾经还是一个竞争者。现在,他已经是一个消费者了,Walmer说。

电子能量留在企业的有选择性的市场提供服务,远离了用于高容量的产品如汽车,手机和电脑,并集中于先进的技术。

“我们并不会与廉价的生产者竞争”刘说:“科学的内容对我们是非常重要的。”

不过,

不过,刘不排除拓宽发展道路,如果公司随附的专利的条件下在技术发展上有所突破,这个专利在增长生产的同时保护投资。

早期的在这一领域的突破是在二十世纪六十年代末,二十世纪七十年代和八十年代,刘说。他说:“从那以后我们已经看到了很多的改变,但是从二十世纪八十年代末我们就在也没有看到过稀土磁铁的新一代了。”

该研究公司正在寻求发展纳米技术,建造可以提供复合磁体的突破,并采取电气设备的小型化和效率提高到一个新水平。

“别人都在谈论经济的衰退,”刘说。“我们不是在衰退,我们是在扩大。”

 

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