MHD pump idea for school project

In summary, the idea is to create a rotating transformer that uses mercury as the fluid, and uses a coil to create a magnetic field. The current can flow in one direction or the other depending on the polarity of the current, and the torque will be equal and opposite but what about other forces such as friction? If there is any difference in the friction acting on the torus compared to the mercury one or the other will slow down and stop leaving the other rotating. It would be very difficult to match them exactly.
  • #1
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Hello everyone,

I wanted to ask one question. My friend has a physics exam at school were the topic is to come up with a interesting yet simple physical device that would prove a single or multiple physics concepts.
Now we were thinking that it would be interesting to experiment with the action-reaction idea. Also we wanted to device to incorporate possibly other means of ideas like relativity.

And so I came up with the idea of a rotating toroidal pipe/transformer which would have a coil much line an ordinary transformer but instead of having a laminated iron core it would have an empty core with liquid metal in it.

The whole idea should work like this, we have a rotor and slip rings, we supply some DC current through the slip rings to the rotor, the current goes into the toroidal coil wrapped around our empty torus, the torus pipe itself would have to be made of some insulating material and then I assume contacts should be put through so that the liquid metal inside the torus could touch them and conduct electricity, as it would conduct being situated in a uniform magnetic field it would then move and the whole assembly should work similarly to a magnetohydrodynamic pump.

The main idea is that (given the DC polarity is set right) the liquid metal (probably mercury) should flow in one direction while the rotor is turned in the other, in other words let's assume the rotor spins with 100rpm, given enough current the liquid mercury would flow in the torus the other way and carefully matching the speeds we could make the mercury stand still inside the torus even though the torus itself would be rotating, right?

the question is, is this possible, one factor is that I don't want a lot of mercury inside the torus but only a little bit so that it would be visibly clear at which point the mercury is at any given moment, since mercury is liquid I assume it would want to spread out, how would I contain it more or less at one spot , would I need to pressurize the rest of the torus with some noble gas in order for the mercury to stay together?

Any help is appreciated, thanks.
 
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  • #2
I don't think the mercury will flow around the torus.

If I have understood your description correctly the field in the toroid will be pointing around it like this...

(Image from http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/magnetic/toroid.html)
tor.png


You can use Fleming's left hand rule to work out the direction of motion (Image from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleming's_left-hand_rule_for_motors)..

LeftHandRule.png
It shows that the "thrust of motion" is always at right angles to the magnetic field, not parallel to it.
 

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  • #3
PS: You can fix this problem by using a different coil arrangement or using permanent magnets. However it also has implications for the direction of the current and how you get the current to flow in the mercury in that direction.
 
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  • #4
However there is another issue...

girts said:
The main idea is that (given the DC polarity is set right) the liquid metal (probably mercury) should flow in one direction while the rotor is turned in the other,

The torque will be equal and opposite but what about other forces such as friction? If there is any difference in the friction acting on the torus compared to the mercury one or the other will slow down and stop leaving the other rotating. It would be very difficult to match them exactly.
 
  • #5
Ok I see , I mixed up the force directions, so a toroidal magnetic field would not work for my case.
maybe let's unroll the torus and speak about it as a linear tube as that would be easier and it changes nothing.
for sake of simplicity let's assume the tube is not round but rectangular in that case the b field should point from one side to other side either horizontally or vertically and then the other two sides should have current contacts the mercury can touch as it flows by and the current going through the mercury and the b field being perpendicular to that current would then make the mercury flow either one or the other direction, right?

Well I did not say I need the mercury to exactly stand still while the torus is rotating a minor speed difference is okay as long as it can be seen by the eye.
I wonder what shape of coils I could use in order to achieve such a b field shape in my torus , well the torus also doesn't have to be circular in shape it can be rectangular as long as it makes a symmetrical circle and can be spun on a rotor
 

1. What is a MHD pump?

A MHD (magnetohydrodynamic) pump is a type of pump that uses magnetic fields to move fluids without the need for any mechanical parts. It works by passing an electrically conductive fluid through a magnetic field, which creates a force that propels the fluid in a specific direction.

2. How does a MHD pump work?

A MHD pump works by using the principles of electromagnetism. As an electrically conductive fluid passes through a magnetic field, it experiences a force called the Lorentz force. This force causes the fluid to move in a specific direction, thereby creating flow. The strength of the magnetic field and the properties of the fluid determine the efficiency of the pump.

3. What are the advantages of using a MHD pump?

MHD pumps have several advantages over traditional mechanical pumps. They have no moving parts, which means they are less prone to wear and tear and require less maintenance. They also have a higher efficiency and can handle a wider range of fluids, including those that are corrosive or contain particles. Additionally, MHD pumps are environmentally friendly as they do not produce any emissions.

4. What are some potential applications of a MHD pump?

MHD pumps have a wide range of potential applications. They can be used in industries such as aerospace, chemical processing, and energy production. They can also be used in medical devices, such as artificial hearts, and in transportation systems, such as magnetic levitation trains. MHD pumps are also being explored for use in space propulsion systems.

5. How can I incorporate a MHD pump into a school project?

There are several ways to incorporate a MHD pump into a school project. You could design and build a small-scale model of a MHD pump and demonstrate how it works. Another option is to conduct experiments to test the efficiency of different MHD pump designs. You could also research and present on the various applications and potential advancements in the field of MHD pumps. Just make sure to consult with a teacher or mentor for guidance and safety precautions.

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