There’s a good chance that green magnets could become an energy efficient alternative to electromagnets in the particle accelerators of the future which are used for basic research, manufacture of materials and the treatment of tissue diseases.
In collaboration with the Danish companies Danfysik and Sintex, researchers have spent the past three years developing a so-called green magnet that can replace the energy guzzling electro magnets that we use today.
In both tests and final installations, the green magnets have functioned to full satisfaction. By reducing electricity consumption by more than 75 percent, they can save companies and universities worldwide millions on their electricity bills while at the same time contributing to minimising environmental impact.
Export adventure just around the corner
The latest prototype has been thoroughly tested and the first customer from a market potentially worth millions has already placed an order with Danfysik. The customer is the technical university ETH in Zurich who will use the magnets for radiocarbon dating of archaeological finds.
Aarhus University is also in the process of installing green magnet technology in the ASTRID2 accelerator.
Using magnets in basic research
At the universities, particle accelerators are employed in the most advanced forms of basic research. The particle accelerators contain large, powerful magnets that create a magnetic field and thereby such powerful acceleration that the electrons are propelled to speeds close to the speed of light. Here they emit some very intense short wave light. This light is called synchrotron radiation and is used by researchers to analyse everything from biological systems to nano-technological connections at the atomic level.
In basic research, particle acceleration provides researchers with a technique for acquiring knowledge about the smallest and perhaps the most important components of humans and the world around us.
Using magnets in medical treatment
Magnets are currently used in ion accelerators for radiation treatment in hospitals. They control the tiny atomic particles used in the treatment of many different types of tissue diseases as for example cancer.
The ion accelerator systems currently use large electromagnets and therefore have very high power consumption. At the same time, they are expensive to manufacture and take up a lot of space. With green magnets, you can develop compact ion equipment that are easier designed into departments or hospitals.
About green magnet technology
Magnets are used everywhere where particle acceleration is required. This can be in very large accelerators for basic research but also to a large extent in smaller accelerators used for modification of materials for the electronics industry or for the production of isotopes for PET/CT scanners.
Green magnets are based on permanent magnet technology and compared to electromagnets they have the advantage of not consuming much electricity and not requiring large water cooling installations.
Electromagnets create a magnetic field by sending electricity through a coil that bends and focuses the particle beam in the accelerator. This is an expensive business and the electricity bill can run into millions.
Green magnets create a magnetic field with the help of rare earth elements that have special, powerful magnetic properties. They can maintain a constant magnetic field without additional energy.
In fact, green magnets can reduce the energy consumption involved in particle acceleration by up to 99 percent. They also take up less space because they do not need to be fitted with massive cables, coils and cooling installations.