Magnax generator for wind turbines: 3 times lighter, 20% more efficient

In wind turbines, there is a trend for quite some time now to use direct-drive generators instead of conventional generators with a (vulnerable) gearbox. Apart from their use in wind turbines, direct-drive generators are extremely suited for all applications that require a very high torque conversion at low speeds, such as elevators, production machines or large electric vehicles.

Together with the start-up company Magnax from Gent, Flanders Make designed a new generation of electric generators that enables manufacturers of wind turbines, electric machines and heavy equipment to build lighter and more efficient products. The machine is lighter and cheaper: the prototype generator supplies 100kW, is 14cm thick and weighs only 850kg. This is less than one third of the weight of current generators. In spite of this, it achieves an efficiency of 96% compared to 80 to 88% for the conventional induction motor/switch box combination. The new generators no longer require maintenance either, which makes them perfect for applications such as, for instance, the offshore industry.

The prototype is scalable from a couple of kW to multi-MW powers and can be used both as motor and as generator.

Magnax is currently working on the further development and marketing of the concept, with a wide field of applications ranging from electric vehicles and drones for passenger transport up to wind and water turbines.