Thursday, January 13, 2022

2022 Research Activity As MagnaTech Sees It


Last year there was a tremendous push to develop a generic term, “Advanced Manufacturing”. Much has been accomplished in this area and more will be in this coming year. Whereas in the past research started with a literature search followed by using design of experiments to get an idea to the laboratory, This now has all been replaced by what is known as modeling. In essence, it is the same thing, except now the computer does all the grunt work.  My opinion is that computers and software program writers have little experience with metals. Therefore, I prefer to do most of my modeling using the old fashioned approach, knowing that speed is not the problem.  However, most of the materials development research is now accomplished through software designed for modeling.

Transportation remains the buzzword in most development programs. In respect to the automobile of the future, standard materials are still required, although research is still promoted to use much lighter aluminum, magnesium, composites and even plastic materials. Again, modeling is the tool generally used to develop most new alloys for automotive and off-road applications. A real push is to make the automobile electric to alleviate the pollution problem. Motor design and battery propulsion is the current big push. However, there are some interesting concepts regarding propulsion designs that do not use batteries. Electromagnetics is one interesting concept being explored.

Just starting to generate steam, however, are applications that improve or permit space applications to be improved. Again, propulsion is one area demanding attention. Most of us pay attention to the huge rockets that are launched at Cape Canaveral. However, most missiles that are launched into space are much smaller and they are not launched from earth, but from missiles launched from earth. NASA is now starting to direct their attention to development of different propulsion systems, such as electric propulsion. These concepts are not new.  The Russians developed a system in 2011. These space craft use electromagnetic fields to accelerate to high speeds, generating thrusts that modify the velocity in orbit. In fact, since 2019 there have been over 500 space craft used throughout the Solar System, using electric propulsion for station keeping. Future systems, under development, are being designed to permit exploration of the outer planets of the Solar System. If a system were developed for earth launch, payloads could be increased to 70% of initial mass to destination, whereas chemical propelled rockets deliver only  a few percent. This is a start to a future for development of additional future electric propulsion systems .

In addition to space, increased concentration is being directed toward aircraft that will fly faster in upper space, delivering increased pay loads at reduced cost in significantly less time MagnaTech would like to find a niche in this new emerging technology to improve soft magnetic materials for these emerging applications.


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