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Applications and test

Akira Chiba

In this chapter some examples of bearingless drives that have been developed
by various manufacturers are presented. The characteristics, requirements and
development purposes are described. The applications for these drives are:

Canned pumps and drives;

Compact pumps;
Bubble bed reactor;
Blood pumps;
Spindle drives; and
Semiconductor processing.

Canned pumps are used in pumping applications where a fluid leak should be
avoided and contact with steel components will cause corrosion. For example,
hydrochloric acid is pumped around paper mill plants using canned pumps
because the processing of wood chips and recycled paper uses this corrosive
liquid. Ball bearings cannot be used here because of steel corrosion. Usually
carbon slide bearings are used instead. These are cylindrical in shape. During
operation there is no mechanical contact because there is fluid between the carbon
cylinder and the stationary beating sheath when pumping at speed. However,
there is contact during starting, causing wear. In addition, the bearings may
fail if small particles contaminate the fluid. Hence the life time of a carbon
slide beating is short and it is very difficult to see if the pump has a small but
developing bearing problem. Therefore it is known for them to fail and seize
suddenly in which case they should be replaced in very short time to prevent
the loss of production. (Conventional bearings usually wear in a more gradual

362 Applications and test machines

manner which can be diagnosed- allowing replacement in scheduled downtime.) The suspension problem in conventional canned pumps may be overcome
by the use of a bearingless drive and/or magnetic bearings.
Figure 21.1 shows a picture of a test canned pump and drive developed by
Ebara Research Co. Ltd, Japan. Figure 21.2 shows a cross section of the canned
pump. The pump impeller is at the fight-hand end of the unit. Fluid enters the
impeller from the fight and then is pumped in an upward direction. The other half
of the unit consists of the bearingless motor units and a magnetic thrust bearing.
There are two bearingless motor units and these are responsible for the torque
and radial suspension of the rotor. The four radial axes are actively suspended
by the two bearingless motor units, and the magnetic thrust bearing, which is
located at the left-hand end, generates an axial magnetic force to balance the
significant thrust force caused by the pump impeller. The rotating component
is surrounded by a metal can made of Hastelloy, which is a corrosion-resistant
metal. The inner surface of the stationary component is also protected by a thin
cylindrical Hastelloy can and the space between the Hastelloy cans is filled by
the fluid. While the pump is small, the motor and suspension components are
quite large. The manufacturer of this pumping unit specializes in the integration
of mechanical and electrical components in this way.
Table 21.1 shows the specification of the canned pump. The rotor diameter is
68 mm and the axial length is 50 mm for one bearingless unit. The input power is

Figure 21.1 Cannedpump with integrated bearingless units. (Courtesy: Ebara Research Co. Ltd)











. ~O




364 Applications and test machines

Table 21.1 Specificationof canned pump.
(Courtesy: Ebara Research Co. Ltd)
Rotor diameter
Rotor stack length
Airgap length
Rotating part length
Rotating part weight
Can thickness
Flow rate

68 mm
50 mm
0.6 mm
600 mm
0.2 mm
24 m

about 2.2 kW. The head is 24 m and the flow of the pump is 1801/min. Another
15-kW machine is also described in [2].
Figure 21.3 shows a picture of a 30-kW canned pump developed by Sulzer
Pumps Ltd and Sulzer Electronics Ltd, Switzerland [3-4]. Figure 21.4 shows
a cross section of this canned pump. The fluid enters from the left-hand side
and pumped in the upward direction by the pump impeller. On the right-hand
side of the impeller is a radial magnetic bearing. This takes the form of a
homopolar permanent magnet machine. The windings are arranged to operate in
differential mode so that no current is required when there is no radial force.
A 3-phase winding set is used in the magnetic bearing which is driven by a

Figure 21.3 30-kW canned pump. (Courtesy: Sulzer Pumps Ltd)

Compact pumps, bubble bed reactor 365

Figure 21.4 Cross-sectionof 30-kW canned pump. (Courtesy: Sulzer Pumps Ltd)

3-phase inverter. A controller from a general-purpose inverter is modified to act

as the current regulators for the magnetic bearing, and only three power wires
are required for two-axis active magnetic suspension. This is a nice development
of the radial magnetic bearing and it should be noted that this is an application
using a bearingless motor with a static magnetic field.
The middle part of the pump-drive is a bearingless unit with an input voltampere rating of 45 kVA. An induction type of bearingless motor is used. The
bearingless unit generates torque and 2-axis radial forces. On the fight-hand side
is a magnetic thrust bearing. In total, five axes are actively controlled by magnetic
forces. The head and flow for the pump are 62 m and 301/s respectively, and the
radial force is rated at 3500 N.

Figure 21.5 shows two pictures of compact pumps from Levitronix GmbH.
These have ratings of 50 and 300 W. The plastic upper components are the pump
casings while the lower metal components are the frames for the bearingless
drives. Figure 21.6 shows a cross section of one of these pumps. The fluid enters
the inlet at the top of the pump and is pumped out of the radially orientated
outlet. A plastic pump impeller is located on the rotor which also has integrated
permanent magnets. The permanent magnets are magnetized in the radial direction allowing the generation of torque and two-axis radial forces. The stator iron
teeth are located around the rotor on the outside of the plastic casing. The stator

366 Applications and test machines

Figure 21.5 Compactpumps integrated bearingless units. (Courtesy: Levitronix GmbH)

Figure 21.6 Crosssection of a compact pump. (Courtesy: Levitronix GmbH)

teeth are bent down into a C-shape so that the diameter of the pump is minimized. The motor and suspension coils are wound around the stator teeth and
the suspension coils are operated in differential mode to minimize the current
requirements. Only two radial magnetic forces are actively regulated; however,
the rotor is suspended passively to restrict the thrust and tilt movements, and also
the rotor diameter and thickness are carefully designed to realize stable magnetic
suspension with just two axes of active suspension. There is no mechanical seal
in this pump so that no fluid leakage is expected. The applications for this sort of
pump are external blood pumps, semiconductor process pumps, chemical process
pumps, food process pumps and other pump applications where a mechanical
seal should be avoided.

Compact pumps, bubble bed reactor 367

Table 21.2 Specification of compact pumps.
(Courtesy: Levitronix GmbH)

Flow (1/min)
Pressure (bar)
Motor power (W)
Diameter (mm)
Height (mm)
Voltage (V)





Table 21.2 gives the specifications of the two pumps. The head is 8 m and the
flow is 181/min for the small pump and 25 m and 501/min for the large pump.

Figure 21.7 is a picture of a bubble bed reactor [6]. In this, animal cells are
grown in the reactor fluid. Oxygen is supplied from a nozzle at the bottom
and there is a downstream fluid flow so that the oxygen bubbles stay in the
fluid. The downstream is generated by a pump impeller. Usually, the pump
impeller is driven by an external drive. The torque transfer mechanism requires
a mechanical suspension structure to support the impeller, and also a shaft and
a mechanical seal are required. If the cell is broken at the seal then the fluid
can be contaminated. Alternatively the bearingless motor provides a magnetic
suspension force and rotational torque to the pump impeller without a mechanical
seal so that the possibility of contamination is reduced. The impeller is actively
suspended in two perpendicular axes in the fluid. Other degrees of freedom
for the motion is restricted by the careful design of the rotor diameter and
In the electro-mechanical structure, the permanent magnets are magnetized in
the axial direction and placed on a ferromagnetic ring. The permanent magnets
provide homopolar radial flux flow across the airgap between magnetic bearing
iron poles and the rotor ring. Attractive forces are generated between the beating
iron poles and the rotor ring and these are regulated by the current in the magnetic
bearing winding.

Figure 21.8 shows a picture of an implantable blood pump under development in

Ibaraki University, Japan. Figure 21.9 shows a diagram of the electromagnetic
structure. The stator core, not shown in the figure, is located inside the ringshaped rotor. The rotor ring is supported by two-axis active magnetic suspension.
Several eddy current sensors are illustrated and used for test purposes. On the
rotor ring, a plastic impeller is attached; the blood comes in through the inlet

368 Applications and test machines

Figure 21.7 Bubble bed reactor. (Courtesy: Levitronix GmbH)

on the top of the blood pump and exits through the outlet. The plastic impeller
design is quite important to avoid haemolysis.
In blood pump applications, magnetic suspension is highly desirable. In
conventional blood pumps used in surgery, the operation time is limited to
several hours to avoid clogging problems. These are due to blood particles being
destroyed in the blood pump. These broken particles adhere to the seal which
may eventually clog because of this build-up. Also the broken particles can result
in a thrombus. Therefore, supporting a pump impeller with magnetic suspension
is an effective way to counteract these problems. A blood pump with integrated
magnetic bearings has been shown to have a long operating life when tested in

Compact pumps, bubble bed reactor 369

Figure 21.8 Blood pump. (Courtesy: Ibaraki University)

Figure 21.9 Bird's eye view of a blood pump. (Courtesy: Ibaraki University)

370 Applicationsand test machines

Another application is the artificial heart. Compact blood pumps implanted
into the human body may help many people. There are many requirements for a
blood pump; from an electr'~mechanical point of view, these are

Low power magnetic suspension.
High efficiency operation.
Smooth blood flow and low wear rate.

Electric power is supplied through human skin via a transformer. The primary
side of the transformer is fixed on the outside of the body while the secondary
side is buried under patient's skin. If the required power is low then the power
supply and pump can be compact. In normal human activity several watts
are required to pump the blood, and a high efficiency motor and pump are
required. Power losses in the magnetic suspension should be minimized to avoid
a temperature r i s e - the pump should operate as close to body temperature as
Another experimental blood pump has been manufactured in Switzerland and
the USA [8]. The structure is basically similar to the compact pump described
in this section. The diameter is 69 mm and thickness is 30 mm for the motor
component. These compact structures provide a promising future for the development of the blood pump.

Some computer-related machines are required to run at high speeds. In hard disk
storage, disks are driven by an electrical motor at a constant speed, for example
15 000 r/min. To enhance the data transfer speed some hard disks have an even
higher speed. High-speed hard disks can suffer from excessive heat generation.
As the rotational speed increases, mechanical bearing loss also increases so that
the motor power increases likewise. Hence the heat generation due to electrical
and mechanical losses increases, resulting in raised temperature which shortens
life time and increases the possibility of premature failure. If magnetic suspension
is used then the drive loss can be reduced and hence lower motor power is
required. There is now a need for even higher speed drives in DVD and CD
Polygon mirror scanners are used in information-processing machines such
as laser printers. These also require a high-speed drive. In order to enhance the
processing speed, the rotational speed of the drive motor needs to be increased.

Spindle motor and semiconductor processing 371

Figure 21.10 Computer storage spindle. (Courtesy: Sankyo Seiki Mfg Co.)

Figure 21.10 shows a drive developed by Sankyo Seiki Mfg Co., Japan.
An aluminium sleeve is seen on the printed board. Figure 21.11(a,b) shows a
cross section and side view of the spindle without the aluminium sleeve. The
upper electromagnet is a hybrid type magnetic beating while the lower one is
a bearingless motor with radial magnetic suspension. The rotor is external to
the stator. In addition, permanent magnet bias tings are seen; these produce
the axial flux required for homopolar excitation of the stator cores. Radial
displacement sensors are placed above the unit. Other radial displacement sensors
are located on the printed board for the detection of radial movement of the
lower end.
Another notable bearingless motor hard disk drive developed in Switzerland
is described in [10].

In semiconductor wafer processing, the surface of the silicon wafer is chemically

processed. Usually the silicon wafer is placed on a turntable during this chemical
process, which includes the use of a corrosive chemical. The life expectancy
of the turntable is limited because the supporting bearing is damaged by the
corrosive chemical leaking in through the seal. If the turntable is suspended by
magnetic suspension, the chemical process can be separated from the drive and
bearing since the seal is eliminated. Moreover, both sides of the wafer can be
processed simultaneously.









Spindle motor and semiconductor processing 373

Figure 21.12 Semiconductorwafer suspension: (a) wafer suspension with a bearingless motor;
(b) side view. (Courtesy: Levitronix GmbH)

Figure 21.12(a,b) show a bearingless system for semiconductor processing.

In Figure 21.12(a), the rotor, stator and controller are shown. In Figure 21.12(b),
a cross section of the silicon wafer placed on the rotor ring is illustrated. This
structure is similar to the bubble bed reactor bearingless motor.
In this chapter, we have seen several examples of bearingless motors that
are either commercial prototypes or early production versions. As described
in Chapter 1, the possible applications for the bearingless drive are varied
and wide and some notable developments have been included in this chapter.
Space constraint prevents the inclusion of further examples. Most of the applications take advantage of non-contact suspension and low suspension losses.
More applications will be seen in the future as the drive technology is further

374 Applicationsand test machines

[1] T. Satoh, S. Moil and M. Ohsawa, "Study of Induction-Type Bearingless Canned

Motor Pump", Institute of Electrical Engineering of Japan (IEEJ), International
Power Electronics Conference (IPEC), Tokyo, Japan, April 3-7, 2000, pp. 389-394.
[2] M. Ohsawa, S. M,~ri and T. Satoh, "Study of the Induction type Bearingless Motor",
Seventh Internat Inal Symposium on Magnetic Bearings (ISMB), August 2000,
Zurich, pp. 389- )4.
[3] C. Redemann, P. i [euter, A. Ramella and T. Gempp, "Development and Prototype of
a 30 kW Bearingless Canned Motor Pump", IPEC, pp. 377-382, Japan, April 2000.
[4] C. Redemann, P. Meuter, A. Ramella and T. Gempp, "30 kW Bearingless Canned
Motor Pump on the Test Bed", Seventh International Symposium on Magnetic
Bearings (ISMB), August 2000, Zurich, pp. 189-194.
[5] M. Neff, N. Barletta and R. Schoeb, "Bearingless Centrifugal Pump for Highly Pure
Chemicals", ISMB - 8, August 2002, Mito, pp. 283-287.
[6] R. Schoeb, N. Barletta, M. Weber and R. von Rohr, "Design of a Bearingless Bubble
Bed Reactor", ISMB, 1998, pp. 507-516.
[7] T. Masuzawa, T. Kita and Y. Okada, "An Ultradurable and Compact Rotary Blood
Pump with a Magnetically Suspended Impeller in the Radial Direction", International Society for Artificial Organ, Vol. 25, No. 5, 2001, pp. 395-399.
[8] R. Schoeb, N. Barletta, A. Fleischli, G. Foiera, T. Gempp, H. G. Reiter, V. L. Poirier,
D. B. Gernes, K. Bourque, H. M. Loree and J. S. Richardson, "A Bearingless Motor
for a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD)", Seventh International Symposium
on Magnetic Bearings (ISMB), August 2000, Zurich, pp. 383-388.
[9] H. Kanebako and Y. Okada, "New Design of Hybrid Type Self-Bearing Motor for
High-Speed Miniature Spindle", ISMB - 8, August 2002, Mito, pp. 65-70.
[ 10] R. Vuillemin, B. Aeschlimann, M. Kuemmerle, J. Zoethout, T. Belfroid, H. Bleuler,
A. Cassat, P. Passeraub, S. Hediger, P. A. Besse, A. Argondizza, A. Tonoli, S. Carabelli, G. Genta and G. Heine, "Low Cost Active Magnetic Bearings for Hard Disk
Drive Spindle Motor", ISMB, Boston, US, 1998, pp. 3-9.
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