The identification of parameters that dictate the magnitude of rotor power losses in radial magnetic bearings is very important for many applications. Low loss performance of magnetic bearings in aerospace equipment such as jet engines and flywheel energy storage systems is especially critical. Two basic magnetic bearing designs are employed in industrial practice today: the homopolar design, where the flux paths are of a mixed radial/axial orientation, and the heteropolar design, where the flux paths are primarily radial in nature. The stator geometry and flux path of a specific bearing can have a significant effect on the rotor losses. This paper describes the detailed measurement of rotor losses for experimentally comparable homopolar and heteropolar designs. The two test bearing configurations are identical except for geometric features that determine the direction of the flux path. Both test bearing designs have the same air gap length, tip clearance ratio, surface area under the poles, and bias flux levels. An experimental test apparatus was used where run down tests were performed on a test rotor with both bearing designs to measure power losses. Numerous test runs where made for each bearing configuration by running multiple levels of flux density. The components of the overall measured power loss, due to hysteresis, eddy currents, and windage, were determined based on theoretical expressions for power loss. It was found that the homopolar bearing had significantly lower power losses than the heteropolar bearing.

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