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Magnetic Circuit

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A magnetic circuit is made up of one or more closed loop paths containing a magnetic flux. The flux is usually generated

by permanent magnets or electromagnets and confined to the path by magnetic cores consisting of ferromagnetic

materials like iron, although there may be air gaps or other materials in the path. Magnetic circuits are employed to

efficiently channel magnetic fields in many devices such as electric motors, generators, transformers, relays, lifting

electromagnets, SQUIDs, galvanometers, and magnetic recording heads.

The concept of a "magnetic circuit" exploits a one-to-one correspondence between the equations of the magnetic field in

an unsaturated ferromagnetic material to that of an electrical circuit. Using this concept the magnetic fields of complex

devices such as transformers can be quickly solved using the methods and techniques developed for electrical circuits.

horseshoe magnet with no keeper (high-reluctance circuit)

electric motor (variable-reluctance circuit)

some types of pickup cartridge (variable-reluctance circuits)

Contents

Magnetomotive force (MMF)

Magnetic flux

Ohm's law for magnetic circuits

Reluctance

Microscopic origins of reluctance

Summary of analogy between magnetic circuits and electrical circuits

Limitations of the analogy

Circuit laws

Applications

See also

References

External links

Similar to the way that electromotive force (EMF) drives a current of electrical charge in electrical circuits, magnetomotive

force (MMF) 'drives' magnetic flux through magnetic circuits. The term 'magnetomotive force', though, is a misnomer

since it is not a force nor is anything moving. It is perhaps better to call it simply MMF. In analogy to the definition of

EMF, the magnetomotive force around a closed loop is defined as:

The MMF represents the potential that a hypothetical magnetic charge would gain by completing the loop. The magnetic

flux that is driven is not a current of magnetic charge; it merely has the same relationship to MMF that electric current

has to EMF. (See microscopic origins of reluctance below for a further description.)

The unit of magnetomotive force is the ampere-turn (At), represented by a steady, direct electric current of one ampere

flowing in a single-turn loop of electrically conducting material in a vacuum. The gilbert (Gb), established by the IEC in

1930,[1] is the CGS unit of magnetomotive force and is a slightly smaller unit than the ampere-turn. The unit is named

after William Gilbert (1544–1603) English physician and natural philosopher.

[2]

The magnetomotive force can often be quickly calculated using Ampère's law. For example, the magnetomotive force of

long coil is:

where N is the number of turns and I is the current in the coil. In practice this equation is used for the MMF of real

inductors with N being the winding number of the inducting coil.

Magnetic flux

An applied MMF 'drives' magnetic flux through the magnetic components of the system. The magnetic flux through a

magnetic component is proportional to the number of magnetic field lines that pass through the cross sectional area of

that component. This is the net number, i.e. the number passing through in one direction, minus the number passing

through in the other direction. The direction of the magnetic field vector B is by definition from the south to the north pole

of a magnet inside the magnet; outside the field lines go from north to south.

The flux through an element of area perpendicular to the direction of magnetic field is given by the product of the

magnetic field and the area element. More generally, magnetic flux Φ is defined by a scalar product of the magnetic field

and the area element vector. Quantitatively, the magnetic flux through a surface S is defined as the integral of the

magnetic field over the area of the surface

For a magnetic component the area S used to calculate the magnetic flux Φ is usually chosen to be the cross-sectional area

of the component.

The SI unit of magnetic flux is the weber (in derived units: volt-seconds), and the unit of magnetic field is the weber per

square meter, or tesla.

In electronic circuits, Ohm's law is an empirical relation between the EMF applied across an element and the current I it

generates through that element. It is written as:

where R is the electrical resistance of that material. There is a counterpart to Ohm's law used in magnetic circuits. This law

is often called Hopkinson's law, after John Hopkinson, but was actually formulated earlier by Henry Augustus Rowland

in 1873.[3] It states that[4][5]

where is the magnetomotive force (MMF) across a magnetic element, is the magnetic flux through the magnetic

element, and is the magnetic reluctance of that element. (It will be shown later that this relationship is due to the

empirical relationship between the H-field and the magnetic field B, B=μH, where μ is the permeability of the material).

Like Ohm's law, Hopkinson's law can be interpreted either as an empirical equation that works for some materials, or it

may serve as a definition of reluctance.

Hopkinson's law is not a correct analogy with Ohm's law in terms of modelling power and energy flow. In particular, there

is no power dissipation associated with a magnetic reluctance in the same way as there is a dissipation in an electrical

resistance. The magnetic resistance that is a true analogy of electrical resistance in this respect is defined as the ratio of

magnetomotive force and the rate of change of magnetic flux. Here rate of change of magnetic flux is standing in for

electrical current and the Ohm's law analogy becomes,

where is the magnetic resistance. This relationship is part of an electrical-magnetic analogy called the gyrator-capacitor

model and is intended to overcome the drawbacks of the reluctance model. The gyrator-capacitor model is, in turn, part of

a wider group of compatible analogies used to model systems across multiple energy domains.

Reluctance

Magnetic reluctance, or magnetic resistance, is analogous to resistance in an electrical circuit (although it does not

dissipate magnetic energy). In likeness to the way an electric field causes an electric current to follow the path of least

resistance, a magnetic field causes magnetic flux to follow the path of least magnetic reluctance. It is a scalar, extensive

quantity, akin to electrical resistance.

The total reluctance is equal to the ratio of the MMF in a passive magnetic circuit and the magnetic flux in this circuit. In

an AC field, the reluctance is the ratio of the amplitude values for a sinusoidal MMF and magnetic flux. (see phasors)

where is the reluctance in ampere-turns per weber (a unit that is equivalent to turns per henry).

Magnetic flux always forms a closed loop, as described by Maxwell's equations, but the path of the loop depends on the

reluctance of the surrounding materials. It is concentrated around the path of least reluctance. Air and vacuum have high

reluctance, while easily magnetized materials such as soft iron have low reluctance. The concentration of flux in low-

reluctance materials forms strong temporary poles and causes mechanical forces that tend to move the materials towards

regions of higher flux so it is always an attractive force(pull).

Its SI derived unit is the henry (the same as the unit of inductance, although the two concepts are distinct).

The reluctance of a magnetically uniform magnetic circuit element can be calculated as:

where

is the permeability of the material ( is the relative permeability of the material

(dimensionless), and is the permeability of free space)

A is the cross-sectional area of the circuit in square metres

This is similar to the equation for electrical resistance in materials, with permeability being analogous to conductivity; the

reciprocal of the permeability is known as magnetic reluctivity and is analogous to resistivity. Longer, thinner geometries

with low permeabilities lead to higher reluctance. Low reluctance, like low resistance in electric circuits, is generally

preferred.

electrical circuits

The following table summarizes the mathematical analogy between electrical circuit theory and magnetic circuit theory.

This is mathematical analogy and not a physical one. Objects in the same row have the same mathematical role; the

physics of the two theories are very different. For example, current is the flow of electrical charge, while magnetic flux is

not the flow of any quantity.

Analogy between 'magnetic circuits' and electrical circuits

Magnetic Electric

Name Symbol Units Name Symbol Units

ampere-turn volt

(MMF) force (EMF)

volt/meter =

Magnetic field H ampere/meter Electric field E

newton/coulomb

Magnetic flux weber Electric current I ampere

Hopkinson's law or

ampere-turn Ohm's law

Rowland's law

Electrical

Reluctance 1/henry R ohm

resistance

Permeance henry G = 1/R

conductance siemens

H Ohm's law

ampere/square

Magnetic flux density B B tesla Current density J

meter

Electrical

Permeability μ henry/meter σ siemens/meter

conductivity

When using the analogy between magnetic circuits and electric circuits, the limitations of this analogy must be kept in

mind. Electric and magnetic circuits are only superficially similar because of the similarity between Hopkinson's law and

Ohm's law. Magnetic circuits have significant differences, which must be taken into account in their construction:

Electric currents represent the flow of particles (electrons) and carry power, part or all of which is dissipated as heat in

resistances. Magnetic fields don't represent a "flow" of anything, and no power is dissipated in reluctances.

The current in typical electric circuits is confined to the circuit, with very little "leakage". In typical magnetic circuits not

all of the magnetic field is confined to the magnetic circuit because magnetic permeability also exists outside

materials (see vacuum permeability). Thus, there may be significant "leakage flux" in the space outside the magnetic

cores, which must be taken into account but often difficult to calculate.

Most importantly, magnetic circuits are nonlinear; the reluctance in a magnetic circuit is not constant, as resistance is,

but varies depending on the magnetic field. At high magnetic fluxes the ferromagnetic materials used for the cores of

magnetic circuits saturate, limiting further increase of the magnetic flux through, so above this level the reluctance

increases rapidly. In addition, ferromagnetic materials suffer from hysteresis so the flux in them depends not just on

the instantaneous MMF but also on the history of MMF. After the source of the magnetic flux is turned off, remanent

magnetism is left in ferromagnetic materials, creating flux with no MMF.

Circuit laws

Magnetic circuits obey other laws that are similar to electrical circuit laws. For example, the total reluctance of

reluctances in series is:

This also follows from Ampère's law and is analogous to Kirchhoff's voltage law for adding resistances in series. Also, the

sum of magnetic fluxes into any node is always zero:

This follows from Gauss's law and is analogous to Kirchhoff's current law for

analyzing electrical circuits.

Together, the three laws above form a complete system for analysing magnetic

circuits, in a manner similar to electric circuits. Comparing the two types of

circuits shows that:

The equivalent to current I is the magnetic flux Φ Magnetic circuit

The equivalent to voltage V is the magnetomotive Force F

Magnetic circuits can be solved for the flux in each branch by application of the

magnetic equivalent of Kirchhoff's Voltage Law (KVL) for pure source/resistance circuits. Specifically, whereas KVL states

that the voltage excitation applied to a loop is equal to the sum of the voltage drops (resistance times current) around the

loop, the magnetic analogue states that the magnetomotive force (achieved from ampere-turn excitation) is equal to the

sum of MMF drops (product of flux and reluctance) across the rest of the loop. (If there are multiple loops, the current in

each branch can be solved through a matrix equation—much as a matrix solution for mesh circuit branch currents is

obtained in loop analysis—after which the individual branch currents are obtained by adding and/or subtracting the

constituent loop currents as indicated by the adopted sign convention and loop orientations.) Per Ampère's law, the

excitation is the product of the current and the number of complete loops made and is measured in ampere-turns. Stated

more generally:

(Note that, per Stokes's theorem, the closed line integral of H·dl around a contour is equal to the open surface integral of

curl H·dA across the surface bounded by the closed contour. Since, from Maxwell's equations, curl H = J, the closed line

integral of H·dl evaluates to the total current passing through the surface. This is equal to the excitation, NI, which also

measures current passing through the surface, thereby verifying that the net current flow through a surface is zero

ampere-turns in a closed system that conserves energy.)

More complex magnetic systems, where the flux is not confined to a simple loop, must be analysed from first principles by

using Maxwell's equations.

Applications

Air gaps can be created in the cores of certain transformers to reduce the effects of saturation. This increases the

reluctance of the magnetic circuit, and enables it to store more energy before core saturation. This effect is used in

the flyback transformers of cathode-ray tube video displays and in some types of switch-mode power supply.

Variation of reluctance is the principle behind the reluctance motor (or the variable reluctance generator) and the

Alexanderson alternator.

Multimedia loudspeakers are typically shielded magnetically, in order to reduce magnetic interference caused to

televisions and other CRTs. The speaker magnet is covered with a material such as soft iron to minimize the stray

magnetic field.

Reluctance can also be applied to variable reluctance (magnetic) pickups.

See also

Magnetic capacitivity

Magnetic capacitance

Magnetic complex reluctance

Tokamak

References

1. International Electrotechnical Commission (http://www.iec.ch/about/history/overview/)

2. Matthew M. Radmanesh, The Gateway to Understanding: Electrons to Waves and Beyond, p. 539 (https://books.goo

gle.co.uk/books?id=NANN_b5hc_EC&pg=PA539&dq=gilbert), AuthorHouse, 2005 ISBN 1418487406.

3. Rowland H., Phil. Mag. (4), vol. 46, 1873, p. 140.

4. Magnetism (flash) (http://www.ginerdelosrios.org/pizarra/electronica/nemesio/pizarra_neme/simuladores/parametros_

magneticos.swf)

5. Tesche, Fredrick; Michel Ianoz; Torbjörn Karlsson (1997). EMC Analysis Methods and Computational Models. Wiley-

IEEE. p. 513. ISBN 0-471-15573-X.

External links

Magnetic-Electric Analogs (https://web.archive.org/web/20060309173902/http://www.analogzone.com/col_0909.pdf)

by Dennis L. Feucht, Innovatia Laboratories (PDF) Archived (https://web.archive.org/web/20120717003534/http://ww

w.analogzone.com/col_0909.pdf) July 17, 2012, at the Wayback Machine

Interactive Java Tutorial on Magnetic Shunts (http://www.magnet.fsu.edu/education/tutorials/java/magneticshunt/)

National High Magnetic Field Laboratory

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. By using this

site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia

Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization.

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