Spin-out wins top innovation award

Peter Luff MP, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support & Technology, (left) presents the NDI Innovation and Technology Award to Magnomatics managing director Chris Kirby
Peter Luff MP, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support & Technology, (left) presents the NDI Innovation and Technology Award to Magnomatics managing director Chris Kirby
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REVOLUTIONARY magnetic gears, developed in Sheffield, have won a top award from a leading defence industries organisation.

The system is part of an innovative electric motor, developed by Magnomatics, based at Sheffield Technology Parks’ Cooper Building in the city centre, and has sparked significant interest from the Ministry of Defence.

Now, the Sheffield University spin-out has been named winner of the annual Innovation and Technology Award, presented by NDI, the organisation that represents and promotes companies from the north supplying the defence, aerospace, space and security sectors.

Magnomatics’ managing director, Chris Kirby, was presented with the award by Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology Peter Luff at NDI’s annual conference.

NDI chief, Robin Fox, said: “Magnomatics have created a new technology that will change the way we think about drive systems.

“They are a wonderful example of the wealth of innovation that SMEs in the UK have to offer. I can only marvel at the possibilities that their superlative research and development will produce next.”

Magnomatics’ magnetic gears are used in motors and transmissions and work without having to physically mesh.

As a result they are quieter, more efficient, more reliable and require less maintenance than conventional mechanical alternatives.

The MoD has asked Magnomatics to develop a magnetically geared motor, based on its patented technology, which could be used to power frigates and submarines.

Chris Kirby says there are potential applications for the firm’s technology in aerospace, automotive, mining, renewable energy and industry, as well as at sea, where an marine designers are increasingly seeing benefits in using electric motors.

Magnomatics’ technology allows the main power source in a ship, be it a diesel motor, gas turbine or nuclear generator, to be sited in the best location, instead of as close as possible to the propeller, eliminating the need for long rotating shafts.

Magnomatics’ motors would be about half the size of conventional naval propulsion motors, allowing designers more flexibility and making the propulsion system much harder to destroy with a missile attack.

Their greater efficiency would increase the vessel’s range, reduce its operating costs and decrease the need for cooling, which would result in a simpler engine room layout.