A magnetic bearing system contains magnetic subsystems which act together to support a rotating element in a state of dynamic equilibrium and dampen transversely directed vibrations. Mechanical stabilizers are provided to hold the suspended system in equilibrium until its speed has exceeded a low critical speed where dynamic effects take over, permitting the achievement of a stable equilibrium for the rotating object. A state of stable equilibrium is achieved above a critical speed by use of a collection of passive elements using permanent magnets to provide their magnetomotive excitation. In a improvement over U.S. Pat. No. 5,495,221, a magnetic bearing element is combined with a vibration damping element to provide a single upper stationary dual-function element. The magnetic forces exerted by such an element, enhances levitation of the rotating object in equilibrium against external forces, such as the force of gravity or forces arising from accelerations, and suppresses the effects of unbalance or inhibits the onset of whirl-type rotor-dynamic instabilities. Concurrently, this equilibrium is made stable against displacement-dependent drag forces of the rotating object from its equilibrium position.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.