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How to build railguns and coilguns, continued...
  Pulsed Power

High performance EML systems need lots of power fast -- in a tiny fraction of a second. Here are some of ways to provide a big enough pulse of power fast enough.

Homopolar generators store energy in the form of the kinetic energy of a rotating disc, which then is extracted through an electromagnetic interaction. However, there appears to be little current interest in this technology.

Much of the difficulty comes down to storing power in a magnetic field. Ian McNab of the CEM recently built a pulsed air core alternator. It uses a hollow drum in which the magnetic field windings are held on the surface by a graphite composite. By using an air core instead of iron, this has been able to achieve ~4 T. Today Curtis-Wright is building a matched counter-rotating pair of these alternators for railgun tests.

What about discharging a whole bunch of car batteries at once? Dr. Miles Palmer an experiment at Eglin AFB with a pulsed power supply based upon 16,000 car batteries revealed that arcing limited it to just 80 V.  

Supercapacitors might be a way to get pulsed power for coil guns.

"Design of a Battery Power Supply for the Electromagnetic Gun Research Facility," by Miles Palmer, Presented Paper, IEEE Pulsed Power Conference; Washington, DC, 29 June, 1987.


       © 2013 Carolyn Meinel