Finite-Element Analysis of Physical Phenomena of a Lab-Scale Electromagnetic Launcher

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Chung, Bummo
Cowan, Richard S.
Green, Itzhak
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As electromagnetic launcher (EML) is an apparatus that uses the electromagnetic (EMAG) force to propel an armature along a rail. An applied electric current, coupled with the resulting magnetic field, creates an EMAG force capable of accelerating an armature to velocities up to several thousand meters per second. The high sliding velocity, coupled with the electric current density, creates extreme thermal conditions at the interface between the rail and the armature that can cause melting at the interface. This project considers a lab-scale EML which is pre-loaded to establish the initial contact between arils and armature. This contact area influences the flow of the electric current and, therefore, it affects the thermal conditions significantly. This work presents a finite-element analysis (FEA) of the aforementioned physical phenomena of the lab-scale EML. This work is aimed at improving the understanding of the armature-to-rail performance and the useful life of an EML by developing a computer simulation which can be used as a design tool to acquire conditiodecoup for the best performance. A two-dimensional structural FEA is used to determine the structural deformation, the contact area, the contact pressure, the von Mises stress, and the material properties of the structural compliance. The vibration characteristics of the lab-scale EML armature are studied using Modal analysis. A three-dimensional electromagnetic FEA is performed to determine the EMAG force. Frictional and Joule heating are determined from a two-dimensional thermal FEA. The commercial finite-element package, ANSYS, is used in the simulation.
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