A self-adjusting magnetic bearing automatically adjusts the parameters of an axially unstable magnetic bearing such that its force balance is maintained near the point of metastable equilibrium. Complete stabilization can be obtained with the application of weak restoring forces either from a mechanical bearing (running at near-zero load, thus with reduced wear) or from the action of residual eddy currents in a snubber bearing. In one embodiment, a torque is generated by the approach of a slotted pole to a conducting plate. The torque actuates an assembly which varies the position of a magnetic shunt to change the force exerted by the bearing. Another embodiment achieves axial stabilization by sensing vertical displacements in a suspended bearing element, and using this information in an electrical servo system. In a third embodiment, as a rotating eddy current exciter approaches a stationary bearing, it heats a thermostat which actuates an assembly to weaken the attractive force between the two bearing elements. An improved version of an electromechanical battery utilizing the designs of the various embodiments is described.
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.