Festo SupraMotion: superconductors in industrial automation


Superconductors in industrial automation

Superconductors have tremendous potential for future industrial applications. They enable objects to be suspended and moved without contact, with low power consumption and without any control technology at all for the suspension. Their dust- and abrasion-free operation makes them ideal for the protected transport of levitating objects in very clean environments. It even makes handling functions through walls possible.

What are superconductors?

Superconductors are materials with unique magnetic properties. If you cool them below a certain temperature, they can store the field of a permanent magnet inside them. This creates a strong but invisible coupling. This keeps the magnet and superconductor at a defined distance from each other – even through walls, in liquids or in a vacuum. As long as the superconductor remains below what is known as the transition temperature, its magnetic memory stores the fingerprint of the magnet, and thus its position, even if the two are separated from each other.

Electric cooling with long service life

We use high-temperature ceramic superconductors for SupraMotion that can be cooled down to -210°C. The coolers being used at the moment consume a maximum of 40 watts of power per cryostat (cooling container). This keeps operating costs comparatively low. The levitating effect itself requires neither power nor control technology.

Thanks to the high thermal capacity, operation is guaranteed for many minutes, even in the event of a power failure. The coolers currently have a service life of more than ten years.

Superconducting levitation enables high-end technology

The contactless and friction-free form of superconductor levitation offers an elegant and practical solution for some of the most challenging problems in high-tech industries, from semiconductor, battery, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals to food and medical technology as well as laboratory automation. Reducing contamination of all kinds to an absolute minimum will help pave the way for the high-end technologies and products that are needed for a clean, healthy and sustainable future.

Wide range of applications and motion concepts

There are already various technologies for moving objects using levitation. However, superconductors open up opportunities for completely new sequences. Superconductor automation modules can be designed with a wide range of active actuators. This enables you to carry out even unusual motion sequences, handling tasks and different types of storage without any contact. The latest SupraMotion concept, the SupraCube, enables autonomous operation for up to two hours by separating the superconductor unit and the electric cooler.

Search for pilot customers and concrete applications

The use of superconductors in the industrial automation sector is still in the development stage. Yet completely new and efficient processes are already conceivable with this technology today.

As such, we are specifically investigating application ideas with partners and customers that can be implemented in pilot projects. Why not take the next step and join us in leading superconductor technology into the field of industrial applications?

Contact us by email at: supramotion@festo.com