27 March, New York
Researchers have developed a way to make a magnetic material that could lead to lighter and smaller, cheaper and better-performing high-frequency transformers, needed for more flexible energy storage systems and widespread adoption of renewable energy.
Transportable energy storage and power conversion systems, which can fit inside a single semi-trailer, could make it cost effective to rapidly install solar, wind and geothermal energy systems in even the most remote locations.
“Such modular systems could be deployed quickly to multiple sites with much less assembly and validation time,” said one of the researchers Todd Monson from Sandia National Laboratories in the US.
The new manufacturing method enables the creation of transformer cores from raw starting materials in minutes, without decomposing the required iron nitrides, as could happen at the higher temperatures used in conventional method, the researchers said.
Using this method could make transformers up to 10 times smaller than they are currently, Monson said in a statement.
Due to its magnetic properties, iron nitride transformers can be made much more compact and lighter than traditional transformers, with better power-handling capability and greater efficiency.
They will require only air cooling, another important space saver. Iron nitride also could serve as a more robust, high-performance transformer core material for the electrical grid.
So far, Monson and his colleagues have demonstrated the fabrication of iron nitride transformer cores with good physical and magnetic characteristics and now are refining their process and preparing to test the transformers in power-conversion test beds.