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Magnetic Bearing Recognized for Technological Significance


ROANOKE, Va.--Applications for magnetic bearings are on the rise as traditional oil-lubricated bearings and drive trains are replaced with clean, frictionless magnetic bearings and direct-drive, high-speed drive trains. One company that's on to this trend is Roanoke, Va.-based Synchrony, a developer of components intended to improve rotating machinery and power conversion systems. The company's Fusion® magnetic bearing, for example, is reported to greatly improve the performance of magnetic bearings in rotating equipment, such as motors and pumps. It was recently named the winner of an R&D 100 Award as one of the 100 most technologically significant products of the past year, according to an announcement by Synchrony (

The commercial introduction of Fusion bearings comes after years of development and testing. As a result of innovations around the electromagnetic and thermal design, digital signal processing, self-monitoring capabilities, and software algorithms, the performance and simplicity of the Fusion® bearing system is said to distinguish it from other magnetic bearings.

Unlike other magnetic bearings, the Fusion Magnetic Bearing has no external electronics. According to Synchrony, no other active magnetic bearing in the world can operate without an external electronic controller. It's also noted for its compact size: Even with the integrated electronics, the bearing is said to be smaller than other magnetic bearings of equal load capacity. Diagnostic capabilities are another distinguishing feature. Integrated sensors continuously monitor the health of processors, power devices, coils, and cabling. Each Fusion bearing can record, monitor, and log bearing and machine conditions. This information can be accessed through an integrated Ethernet port, which allows local and remote monitoring.

High-speed digital processing and advanced control algorithms also play an important role. Each Fusion bearing has a dedicated digital signal processor and Synchrony's high-performance control algorithms to improve machine stability and greatly lower vibration, according to the company.

Synchrony says that its Fusion magnetic bearings are creating new opportunities for integration into motors, generators, pumps, compressors, fans, and blowers in the oil and gas, air separation, power generation, and defense markets.

"Magnetic bearings improve efficiency and reliability while eliminating the need for lubricants that may harm the environment," said Synchrony CEO and President, Dr. Victor Iannello. "At a time when there is world attention on energy and the environment, Fusion® bearings now make it simple and economical to integrate magnetic bearings into rotating machinery."

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