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Title:
MAGNETIC RACK-AND-PINION COUPLING SYSTEM AND SEA WAVE ENERGY CONVERSION SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/002568
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present disclosure refers to a magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1) for contactless transfer of kinetic energy comprising: - a rack component (3) comprising a first pattern of ferromagnetic structure being repetitive along a rack length axis (L), and - a pinion stack component (5) being rotatable about a rotor axis (R), wherein the rack component (3) and/or the pinion stack component (5) are movable relative to each other along the rack length axis (L), and wherein the pinion stack component (5) comprises a stack of pinion discs (9a, b,c,d) each comprising a second pattern of ferromagnetic structure being repetitive along a circumference of the respective pinion disc (9a, b,c,d), wherein at least one magnetic field producing element (13a, b,c) is sandwiched between neighbouring pinion discs (9a, b, c, d), wherein each magnetic field producing element (13a, b, c) has one magnetic pole (N, S) at an axial front side (14) of the magnetic field producing element (13a, b, c) and the other magnetic pole (S, N) at an axial end side (16) of the magnetic field producing element (13a, b, c).

Inventors:
BENDIXEN FLEMMING BUUS (DK)
SOREA ALEXANDRU (DK)
JOHNSEN TANJA (DK)
Application Number:
EP2019/067280
Publication Date:
January 02, 2020
Filing Date:
June 28, 2019
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
GRUNDFOS HOLDING AS (DK)
International Classes:
F03B13/18; H02K7/06; H02K49/10
Domestic Patent References:
WO2004005760A12004-01-15
WO1996022630A11996-07-25
WO2014148349A12014-09-25
WO2010130821A22010-11-18
Foreign References:
US20140103765A12014-04-17
Other References:
MCGILTON BEN ET AL: "Review of magnetic gear technologies and their applications in marine energy", IET RENEWABLE POWER GENERATION, THE INSTITUTION OF ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY, MICHAEL FARADAY HOUSE, SIX HILLS WAY, STEVENAGE, HERTS. SG1 2AY, UK, vol. 12, no. 2, 5 February 2018 (2018-02-05), pages 174 - 181, XP006065287, ISSN: 1752-1416, DOI: 10.1049/IET-RPG.2017.0210
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VOLLMANN HEMMER LINDFELD (DE)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) for contactless transfer of kinetic energy comprising:

- a rack component (3) comprising a firs† pattern of ferromagnetic structure being repetitive along a rack length axis (L), and

- a pinion stack component (5) being rotatable about a rotor axis

(R) ,

wherein the rack component (3) and/or the pinion stack compon ent (5) are movable relative†o each other along the rack length axis (L),

and wherein the pinion stack component (5) comprises a stack of pinion discs (9a,b,c,d) each comprising a second pattern of ferro magnetic structure being repetitive along a circumference of the respective pinion disc (9a,b,c,d), wherein a† leas† one magnetic field producing element (13a,b,c) is sandwiched between neigh bouring pinion discs (9a,b,c,d), wherein each magnetic field pro ducing element (13a,b,c) has one magnetic pole (N, S) a† an axial front side (14) of the magnetic field producing element (13a,b,c) and the other magnetic pole (S, N) a† an axial end side (16) of the magnetic field producing element (13a, b,c).

2. The magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) according to claim 1 , wherein the rack length axis (L) extends a† leas† partially along a linear, arc -shaped, circular and/or curved axis.

3. The magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the firs† pattern of ferromagnetic structure is arranged a† leas† partially along a full or partial cylindrical plane having a centre axis (C) essentially parallel†o the rotor axis (R), wherein the rack length axis (L) extends in circumferential direc tion along the cylindrical plane,).

4. The magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the first pattern of ferromagnetic structure is arranged a† leas† partially along a full or partial circular path on a full or partial annular plane having a centre axis (C) extending transversely†o the rotor axis (R), wherein the rack length axis (L) extends along the circular path.

5. The magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein a† leas† one of the mag netic field producing elements (13a,b,c) comprises a permanently magnetic disc.

6. The magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein a† leas† one of the mag netic field producing elements (13a,b,c) comprises a coil.

7. The magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the pinion stack component (5) comprises a stack of N > 3 pinion discs (9a,b,c,d) and N-l mag netic field producing elements (13a,b,c), wherein each magnetic field producing element (13a,b,c) is sandwiched between two neighbouring pinion discs (9a,b,c,d). 8. The magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) according to claim 5, wherein the magnetic field producing elements (13a,b,c) are arranged in such a way that the magnetic pole orientation al ternates between neighbouring magnetic field producing ele ments (13a,b,c).

9. The magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the second pattern of ferro magnetic structure is formed by teeth (1 1 ) extending radially fur- †her than the diameter of the magnetic field producing ele- men†(s) (13a,b,c).

10. The magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) according†o any of the preceding claims, wherein the first pattern of ferromag netic structure is formed by a row of ferromagnetic bars (23) ex tending along a lateral alignment direction (A) and/or by a side of the rack component having a crenelated shape along the rack length axis (L).

1 1. The magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) according†o any of the preceding claims, wherein the first pattern of ferromag netic structure defines a first period and the second pattern of fer romagnetic structure defines a second period, wherein the ratio between the first period and the second period ranges between 0.8 and 1.5.

12. The magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) according†o claim 6, wherein the first period essentially equals the second period.

13. The magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) according†o any of the preceding claims, wherein the lateral width of the first pattern of ferromagnetic structure across the rack length axis (L) is essentially the same as or larger than the axial width of the stack of pinion discs (9a,b,c,d) along the rotor axis (R).

14. The magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) according†o any of the preceding claims, wherein the longitudinal length of the first pattern of ferromagnetic structure along the rack length axis (L) is at least twice as long as the diameter of the stack of pin ion discs (9a,b,c,d).

15. The magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the firs† pattern of ferromag netic structure is skewed by an angle a, wherein the angle a is spanned between a lateral alignment direction (A) of the firs† pat tern of ferromagnetic structure and a cross axis (x) of the rack component (3) perpendicular to the rack length axis (L).

16. The magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein all pinion discs (9a,b,c,d) are essentially identical.

17. The magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein two neighbouring pinion discs (9a,b,c,d) have a rotational position shifted by an angle b with respect†o each other.

18. The magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the second pattern of ferro magnetic structure of each pinion disc (9a,b,c,d) is skewed by a twist angle g about the rotor axis (R).

19. The magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) according to any of the preceding claims, further comprising a separating non ferromagnetic wall structure (31 ) extending along a gap (7) between the firs† pattern of ferromagnetic structure and the second pattern of ferromagnetic structure.

20. The magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the firs† pattern of ferromag netic structure and/or the second pattern of ferromagnetic struc ture is coated by a protective layer.

21. A sea wave energy conversion system (33) comprising

- a guiding structure (35) defining a rack length axis (L), - a buoyance body (39) being movable along the rack length axis (L) relative to the guiding structure (35), and

- at least one magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) ac cording to any of the preceding claims,

wherein the at least one magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling sys tem (1 ) is configured to transfer a motion of the buoyance body (39) relative to the guiding structure (35) to a rotational motion of a rotor axis for driving at least one electric generator (29).

22. The sea wave energy conversion system (33) according†o claim 21 , wherein the rack component (3) of the at least one magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) is mechanically coupled or fixed to the buoyance body (39) and the pinion stack component (5) of the at least one magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system (1 ) is mechanically coupled or mounted to the guiding structure (35).

23. The sea wave energy conversion system (33) according†o claim 21 or 22, comprising M > 2 magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling sys tems (1 ), wherein the magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling systems (1 ) are arranged in an M-fold rotational symmetry with respect to the rack length axis (L).

24. The sea wave energy conversion system (33) according†o any of the claims 21 †o 23, wherein the guiding structure (35) is con figured to be anchored or fixed relative to the seabed.

25. The sea wave energy conversion system (33) according†o any of the claims 21†o 24, wherein the guiding structure (35) is buoyant and configured to follow heaving forces of sea waves quicker or slower compared to the buoyance body (39).

26. The sea wave energy conversion system (33) according to any of the claims 21 to 25, wherein the guiding structure (35) defines a tu bular inner volume (37) along the rack length axis (L), wherein the buoyant body (39) is arranged a† leas† partially within the tubular inner volume (37) and configured†o follow the sea water level within the tubular inner volume (37).

Description:
Description

TECHNICAL FIELD

[01 ] The present disclosure is directed to a magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system for contactless transfer of kinetic energy, and a sea wave energy conversion system with such a magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system.

BACKGROUND [02] WO 2010/130821 A2 describes a mechanical rack-and-pinion coupling system in a sea wave energy conversion system. The mechan ical rack-and-pinion coupling system is used to transfer kinetic energy between a linear motion and a rotational motion. A toothed gear as a pinion of a mechanical rack-and-pinion coupling system positively en- gages with corresponding teeth of the rack so that a linear motion of the rack exerts a torque on the pinion.

[03] The mechanical rack-and-pinion coupling system is, however, in herently susceptible to wear and frictional losses. In particular, the ad- verse conditions in sea water require regular maintenance. Further more, the mechanical rack-and-pinion coupling system does not allow for slippage if the highly varying heaving forces of the sea waves ex ceed a certain threshold above which the structural integrity of the mechanical rack-and-pinion coupling system may be at risk. SUMMARY

[04] In contras† to such known sea wave energy conversion systems with a mechanical rack-and-pinion coupling system, embodiments of the present disclosure provide a contactless transfer of kinetic energy that is less susceptible to wear and frictional loss; and requires less main tenance.

[05] The principle idea underlying the present disclosure for achieving this is to apply a magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system for con tactless transfer of kinetic energy in a sea wave energy conversion sys tem, wherein the magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system provides a sufficient torque transfer.

[06] In accordance with a first aspect of the present disclosure, a magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system is therefore provided for contactless transfer of kinetic energy comprising:

a rack component comprising a first pattern of ferromagnetic structure being repetitive along a rack length axis, and

a pinion stack component being rotatable about a rotor axis, wherein the rack component and/or the pinion stack component are movable relative to each other along the rack length axis,

and wherein the pinion stack component comprises a stack of pinion discs each comprising a second pattern of ferromagnetic structure be ing repetitive along a circumference of the respective pinion disc, wherein at least one magnetic field producing element is sandwiched between neighbouring pinion discs, wherein each magnetic field pro ducing element has one magnetic pole at an axial front side of the magnetic field producing element and the other magnetic pole at an axial end side of the magnetic field producing element opposite the axial front side of the magnetic field producing element. [07] Such a magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system may be used for any kind of contactless transfer of kinetic energy, no† only for sea wave energy conversion. However, it is particularly useful for sea wave energy conversion, because the heaving forces of sea waves vary highly and may exceed a certain threshold above which the structural integrity of a mechanical coupling would be a† risk.

[08] Additionally, the magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system ac cording to the present disclosure allows for slippage without introducing any damage or wear to the system. As the magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system allows for a gap between the rack component and the pinion stack component, the rack component and/or the pinion stack component can be separately encapsulated or physically kept apart. This is advantageous in sea wave energy conversion systems where it allows the components†o be protected from the corrosive en vironment of sea water so that less maintenance is needed. The rack- and-pinion coupling according to the invention is likewise advantage ous in applications where it is desired simply to have a clear physical separation between the rack and the pinion components, for example for hygiene reasons such as in the food or medicine industry.

[09] The stack arrangement of the magnetic field producing element sandwiched between two pinion discs having a pattern of ferromag netic structure along the circumference provides for a sufficient torque transfer, because the magnetic flux depends on the position of the two repetitive patterns of ferromagnetic structure relative†o each other. Thereby, a motion of the rack component and/or the pinion stack component relative†o each other along the rack length axis exerts a torque on the pinion stack component to rotate about the rotor axis.

[10] Analogously, the pinion stack component may be driven by a motor to rotate and thereby exerts a driving torque on the rack com ponent for displacement and/or rotation of the rack component. It is†o be understood that the magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system may be used to convert translational and/or rotational kinematic en ergy to rotational kinematic energy and/or vice versa.

[1 1 ] Optionally, the rack length axis may at least partially extend along a linear, arc -shaped, circular and/or curved axis, i.e. along a path of relative motion between the rack component and the pinion component. For instance, the rack component may a† leas† partially define a linear axis by its repetitive firs† pattern of ferromagnetic struc ture along this axis. The relative motion between the rack component and the pinion component may then also be directed along this linear axis. Alternatively, or in addition, the rack component may a† leas† par tially define an arc -shaped axis along which the relative motion between the rack component and the pinion component takes place. Alternatively, or in addition, the rack component may a† leas† partially define a circular and/or curved path along which the relative motion between the rack component and the pinion component takes place.

[12] Optionally, the firs† pattern of ferromagnetic structure may be ar ranged a† leas† partially along a full or partial cylindrical plane having a centre axis essentially parallel†o the rotor axis, wherein the rack length axis extends in circumferential direction along the cylindrical plane. Preferably, the diameter of the cylindrical plane is a† leas† three times larger than the diameter of the pinion stack component. The firs† pat tern of ferromagnetic structure may face radially inward and/or out ward. If it faces inward, the pinion stack component is preferably placed radially inward from the rack component. If it faces outward, the pinion stack component is preferably placed radially outward from the rack component. Due†o the substantial differences in diameter, a rotational motion of the rack component (unidirectional, bidirectional, continuous or oscillating) appears†o the pinion stack component as an almost-linear motion in the limited area of magnetic coupling between them. [13] Optionally, the first pattern of ferromagnetic structure may be ar ranged a† leas† partially along a full or partial circular path on a full or partial annular plane having a centre axis extending transversely, such as essentially perpendicularly, to the rotor axis, wherein the rack length axis extends along the circular path. Analogous†o the previously de scribed embodiment, it is preferred that the average diameter of the annular plane is a† leas† three times larger than the diameter of the pin ion stack component. Due†o the substantial differences in diameter, a rotational motion of the rack component (unidirectional, bidirectional, continuous or oscillating) appears†o the pinion stack component as an almost-linear motion in the limited area of magnetic coupling between them. It should be noted that, as the rotor axis of the pinion stack com ponent points radially inward or outward above or below the annular plane of the rack component, the velocity vector v = w x r of the firs† pattern of ferromagnetic structure increases radially outward for a given angular velocity of the rack component. Therefore, it is preferred in this embodiment to adapt the diameter of the individual pinion discs accordingly. This means that radially more inwardly located pinion discs should have a smaller diameter than radially more outward pinion discs to compensate for the radially outwardly increasing velocity vector v = w x r of the firs† pattern of ferromagnetic structure. Preferably, the pinion discs may have a conical frustrum shape with radially inwardly decreasing diameter. The rotor axis of the pinion stack component may be tilted†o compensate for the different gap between the firs† and second ferromagnetic structure that results from the different diameters of the pinion discs. Alternatively, or in addition, the firs† ferromagnetic structure may be bevelled adapted†o compensate for this. The rack component and the pinion stack component may thus be coupled similar to bevel gears. [14] Optionally, at least one or all of the magnetic field producing elements may comprise a permanently magnetic disc. The magnetic disc may be primarily comprised of permanently magnetic material.

[15] Optionally, a† leas† one or all of the magnetic field producing elements may comprise a coil. The coil is preferably wound around the rotor axis. Electric current through the coil may produce a magnetic field with one magnetic pole a† an axial front side of the magnetic field producing element and the other magnetic pole a† an axial end side of the magnetic field producing element. By switching the direction of the current, the magnetic poles may be switched. Preferably, if neigh bouring magnetic field producing elements comprise a coil, they are wound in different directions. Thereby, the coils may be electrically connected in series†o produce alternating pole orientation between neighbouring magnetic field producing elements.

[16] Using a coil in a† leas† one magnetic field producing element in stead of a permanently magnetic disc has on the one hand the disad vantage that the supply of electric current costs some energy. On the other hand, the magnetic field producing element comprising a coil may be less expensive and less complicated†o produce. Furthermore, the magnetic field may be better controllable by a coil, so that losses a† fas† movements may be minimised. Both coils and permanent mag nets may be used in combination in the pinion stack component as magnetic field producing elements.

[17] Optionally, the pinion stack component may comprise a stack of N > 3 pinion discs and N-l magnetic field producing elements, wherein each magnetic field producing element is sandwiched between two neighbouring pinion discs. The transferable maximum torque increases with the number N-l of magnetic field producing elements. For ex ample, 10 pinion discs may be used with 9 magnetic field producing elements stacked in-between. Those pinion discs between two neigh- bouring magnetic field producing elements are more effectively used †o transfer magnetic flux than the two pinion discs of the axial ends of the stack. Therefore, the two pinion discs of the axial ends of the stack may have a smaller axial width, e.g. half the width of the other pinion discs. However, in order to reduce the diversify of system components all pinion discs may be identical. Analogously, all magnetic field produ cing elements may be identical in shape and size. If is also possible†o arrange a magnetic field producing element a† one axial end or both axial ends of the pinion stack component.

[18] Optionally, the magnetic field producing elements may be ar ranged in such a way that the magnetic pole orientation alternates between neighbouring magnetic field producing elements. This doubles the magnetic flux density through those pinion discs which are arranged between two neighbouring magnetic field producing ele ments. Thereby, the transferable torque is significantly increased.

[19] Optionally, the second pattern of ferromagnetic structure may be formed by teeth extending radially further than the diameter of the magnetic field producing element(s). The pinion discs may be integrally comprised of ferromagnetic material like iron, wherein the pattern is defined by the teeth similar to a mechanical gear. Alternatively, the pinion discs may comprise a† leas† two materials one of which is ferro magnetic and forming the radially extending teeth. As the teeth are no† in mechanical contact with the rack, the shape of the teeth may be optimised for maximum magnetic flux between the teeth and the firs† pattern of ferromagnetic structure of the rack. The flanks of the teeth may extend radially or parallel†o each other. Alternatively, or in addition, the bottom land of the tooth space may be round with a single circular or oval fillet between neighbouring teeth. In contras††o a mechanical gear, the top land of the teeth is very important for the transfer of magnetic flux. Therefore, the preferably planar top land of each tooth is preferably of essentially the same size as the root of each tooth. The ratio of the size of the fop land of the teeth to the size of the bottom land of the tooth spaces may be in the range of 0.8†o 1 .5, such as in the range of 0.8†o 1 .25. The tooth space may be filled with non- ferromagnefic material or no† filled.

[20] Optionally, the firs† pattern of ferromagnetic structure may be formed by a row of ferromagnetic bars extending along a lateral align ment direction and/or by a side of the rack component having a crenelated shape along the linear axis. The lateral alignment direction may be essentially orthogonal†o the linear axis or skewed as will be ex plained below.

[21 ] Optionally, the firs† pattern of ferromagnetic structure may define a firs† period and the second pattern of ferromagnetic structure may define a second period, wherein the ratio between the firs† period and the second period ranges between 0.8 and 1 .25. Preferably, the firs† period and the second period are essentially equal.

[22] Optionally, the lateral width of the firs† pattern of ferromagnetic structure across the linear axis may essentially be the same as or larger than the axial width of the stack of pinion discs along the rotor axis.

[23] Optionally, the longitudinal length of the firs† pattern of ferro magnetic structure along the linear axis may be a† leas† twice as long as the diameter of the stack of pinion discs. This allows a† leas† more than a half rotation of the stack of pinion discs.

[24] Optionally, the firs† pattern of ferromagnetic structure may be skewed by an angle a, wherein the angle a is spanned between a lat eral alignment direction of the firs† pattern of ferromagnetic structure and a cross axis of the rack component perpendicular to the linear axis. The skewed pattern may reduce a“sputtering” or“staggering” of the torque transfer. A steadier torque transfer over time may be achieved by this†o the detriment of a reduced maximum torque transfer. [25] Optionally, two neighbouring pinion discs may have a rotational position shifted by an angle (3 with respect†o each other. In combina tion with a firs† pattern of ferromagnetic structure being skewed by the angle a, the angle (3 may be correspondingly chosen so that all pinion discs have the same phase with respect†o the skewed firs† pattern of ferromagnetic structure of the rack component. This reduces a“sputter ing” or“staggering” of the torque transfer while the undesired reduc tion of maximum torque transfer is minimised.

[26] Optionally, the second pattern of ferromagnetic structure of each pinion disc may be skewed by a twist angle g about the rotor axis. In combination with a firs† pattern of ferromagnetic structure being skewed by the angle a and the shifted rotational position of the pinion discs, the angle g may be correspondingly chosen to align the pinion teeth with the skewed rack structure†o achieve a smooth torque trans fer while reducing the negative effect of reduced maximum torque transfer introduced by the skewing.

[27] Optionally, the system may further comprise a separating non ferromagnetic wall structure extending along a gap between the firs† pattern of ferromagnetic structure and the second pattern of ferro magnetic structure. The wall structure may be a wall of a housing that encapsulates the rack component and/or the pinion stack compon ent. The wall component may, for instance, comprise stainless steel and/or plastic. As the torque transfer reduces with an increased gap distance between the firs† pattern of ferromagnetic structure and the second pattern of ferromagnetic structure, the wall may be chosen as thin as possible†o allow a small distance between the rack component and the pinion stack component.

[28] Optionally, the firs† pattern of ferromagnetic structure and/or the second pattern of ferromagnetic structure may be coated by a pro tective layer. Such a layer may be a wall structure, a coating and/or an oxidised or deposited layer. The ferromagnetic structures and/or the magnetic field producing elements may thereby be protected against corrosion.

[29] If should be noted that the magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system may comprise two or more pinion stack components that may drive a rack component or may be driven by a rack component. For instance, several pinion stack components may be arranged in a row along the rack length axis so that their rotor axes are essentially perpen dicular to the rack length axis. Alternatively, or in addition, the mag netic rack-and-pinion coupling system may comprise two or more rack components that may drive a pinion stack component or may be driven by a pinion stack component. For instance, two rack compon ents may magnetically couple†o radially opposite sides of the same pinion stack component and have mutually inversed directions of mo tion along their rack length axes.

[30] In accordance with a second aspect of the present disclosure, a sea wave energy conversion system is provided comprising

a guiding structure defining a rack length axis,

a buoyance body being movable along the rack length axis rel ative†o the guiding structure, and

a† leas† one magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system as de scribed above,

wherein the a† leas† one magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system is configured†o transfer a motion of the buoyance body relative†o the guiding structure†o a rotational motion of a rotor axis for driving a† leas† one electric generator.

[31 ] Optionally, the guiding structure may be configured †o be anchored or fixed relative†o the seabed. In addition, or alternatively, the guiding structure may be buoyant and configured†o follow heav ing forces of sea waves with quicker or slower compared†o the buoy- ance body. Thereby, the sea waves drive a motion of the buoyant body relative†o the fixed and/or buoyant guiding structure.

[32] Optionally, the rack component of the a† leas† one magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system may be mechanically coupled or fixed†o the buoyance body and the pinion stack component of the a† leas† one magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system may be mechan ically coupled or mounted†o the guiding structure. [33] Optionally, the sea wave energy conversion system may com prise M > 2 magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling systems, wherein the magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling systems are arranged in an M-fold rotational symmetry with respect†o the rack length axis. Thereby, it is less likely that the system gets jammed along the motion between the buoyant body and the guiding structure.

[34] Optionally, the guiding structure may define a tubular inner volume along the rack length axis, wherein the buoyant body is ar ranged a† leas† partially within the tubular inner volume and configured †o follow the sea water level within the tubular inner volume. The tubular inner volume is open to be flooded with sea water so that there is an up- and downward movement of the sea water level within the tubular inner volume according to the sea waves. The tubular inner volume may have any cross-sectional shape, e.g. round, oval, squared, triangu- lar, hexagonal or any other. Preferably, the tubular inner volume may have a cross-sectional shape of an M-sided regular polygon, so that M magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling systems can be arranged in an /Vi told rotational symmetry with one magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system being arranged a† each side of the tubular inner volume. SUMMARY OF THE DRAWINGS

[35] Embodiments of the present disclosure will now be described by way of example with reference to the following figures of which:

Fig. 1 shows a schematic perspective view on an example of an em bodiment of the magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system according to the present disclosure;

Fig. 2 shows schematically a longitudinal cut view on an example of a pinion stack component of another embodiment of the magnetic rack- and-pinion coupling system according†o the present disclosure;

Fig. 3 shows a schematic perspective view on an example of yet an other embodiment of the magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system according†o the present disclosure;

Fig. 4 shows a schematic side view on an example of yet another em bodiment of the magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system according to the present disclosure together with an electric generator or motor;

Fig. 5 shows a schematic cross-sectional cut view on an example of the embodiment shown in Fig. 4;

Fig. 6 shows a schematic exploded perspective view on an example of the embodiment shown in Figs. 4 and 5;

Fig. 7 shows a schematic cross-sectional cut view on an example of yet another embodiment of the magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system according†o the present disclosure together with an electric generator or motor; Fig. 8 shows a schematic exploded perspective view on an example of the embodiment shown in Fig. 7;

Fig. 9 shows a schematic side view on an example of ye† another em bodiment of the magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system according †o the present disclosure together with an electric generator or motor;

Fig. 10 shows a schematic cross-sectional cut view on an example of the embodiment shown in Fig. 9;

Fig. 1 1 shows a schematic exploded perspective view on an example of the embodiment shown in Figs. 9 and 10;

Fig. 12 shows a schematic view on another example of an embodiment of the magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system according to the present disclosure;

Figs. 13 and 14 show a schematic perspective view and a side view, respectively, on ye† another example of an embodiment of the mag netic rack-and-pinion coupling system according to the present disclos ure;

Fig. 15 shows a schematic perspective view on an example of an em bodiment of a sea wave energy conversion system according to the present disclosure;

Fig. 1 6 shows a schematic side view on an example of the embodiment shown in Fig. 15;

Fig. 1 7 shows a schematic cross-sectional cut view along axis A-A on an example of the embodiment as shown in Fig. 16; and Figs. 18a,b,c show schematic longitudinal cut views on an example of another embodiment of a sea wave energy conversion system accord ing to the present disclosure in different states of motion.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[36] Fig. 1 shows a magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system 1 for contactless transfer of kinetic energy. The system 1 comprises a rack component 3 and a pinion stack component 5. The rack component 3 comprises a firs† pattern of ferromagnetic structure being repetitive along a rack length axis L which here is a linear axis. The pinion stack component 5 is rotatable about a rotor axis R. For a better orientation, a right-handed Cartesian coordinate system is displayed in Fig. 1 , wherein the x-axis extends along the rotor axis R and the y-axis extends along the linear rack length axis L. The z-axis is the direction along which a gap 7 between the rack component 3 and the pinion stack compon ent 5 extends.

[37] In the embodiment of Fig. 1 , the rack component 3 is a single in- tegral part made of ferromagnetic material, wherein the firs† pattern of ferromagnetic structure is defined by a crenelated top side forming teeth that extend like bars along a lateral alignment direction A, which extends along the x-axis in this embodiment. The firs† pattern of ferro magnetic structure defines a firs† period PI .

[38] The pinion stack component 5 comprises a stack of - in this em bodiment - four identical pinion discs 9a,b,c,d each comprising a second pattern of ferromagnetic structure being repetitive along a cir cumference of the respective pinion disc 9a,b,c,d. In the embodiment of Fig. 1 , each of the four pinion discs 9a,b,c,d is a single integral part made of ferromagnetic material, wherein the second pattern of ferro magnetic structure is formed as radially extending teeth 1 1 like teeth of a mechanical gear. The second pattern of ferromagnetic structure defines a second period P2, wherein the ratio between the firs† period PI and the second period P2 is essentially 1 or ranges between 0.8 and 1.25. The pinion stack component 5 further comprises three magnetic field producing elements 13a,b,c, wherein each magnetic field produ cing element 13a,b,c is sandwiched between two neighbouring pinion discs 9a,b,c,d. Each magnetic field producing element 13a,b,c is per manently magnetic with one magnetic pole N,S a† an axial front side 14 of the magnetic field producing element 13a,b,c and the other mag netic pole S,N a† an axial end side 16 of the magnetic field producing element 13a,b,c. The magnetic field producing elements 13a,b,c are arranged in such a way that the magnetic pole orientation alternates between neighbouring magnetic field producing elements 13a,b,c. This means that the axially central magnetic field producing element 13b has a different magnetic pole orientation than the other axially outer two magnetic field producing elements 13a,c. Fig. 2 illustrates this nicely by showing magnetic field lines in another embodiment of the pinion stack component. The alternating magnetic pole orientation is applic able in all embodiments of the present disclosure.

[39] The magnetic field producing elements 13a,b,c in Fig. 1 are all permanently magnetic discs. Alternatively, one, some or all of the mag netic field producing elements 13a,b,c may comprise a coil. Analogous †o the permanently magnetic disc(s), an electric current through such coil (s) may generate a magnetic field with one magnetic pole N,S a† the axial front side 14 of the magnetic field producing element 13a,b,c and the other magnetic pole S,N a† the axial end side 16 of the mag netic field producing element 13a,b,c.

[40] In Fig. 1 , the rack component 3 and/or the pinion stack compon ent 5 are movable relative†o each other along the linear rack length axis L. A relative motion along the linear axis L results in a torque on the pinion stack component 5 around the rotor axis R, because the mag netic flux is influenced by the relative position between the bars of the rack component 3 and the teeth 1 1 of the pinion discs 9a,b,c,d. The ro tation of the pinion stack component 5 induced by a relative linear mo tion of the rack component 3 may be used†o drive an electric gener ator, for instance. The relative linear motion of the rack component 3 may for instance be induced by heaving forces of sea waves as ex plained in more detail below. Analogously, a motor may drive the pin ion stack component 5†o rotate and thereby induces a linear displace ment of the rack component 3.

[41 ] In the embodiment shown in Fig. 1 , the radius of the magnetic field producing elements 13a,b,c is essentially the same as the diameter of the pinion discs 9a,b,c,d from the rotor axis R†o the fop land 15 of the teeth 1 1. However, as the material for the magnetic field producing elements 13a,b,c is more expensive than the ferromagnetic material of the pinion discs 9a,b,c,d, the magnetic field producing elements 13a,b,c can be designed as axially thinner and radially smaller without compromising too much on the maximally transferable torque. If was found that the magnetic field producing elements 13a,b,c can be de signed axially thinner than the pinion discs 9a,b,c,d. The axial thickness of the magnetic field producing elements 13a,b,c may be 30% or more of the axial thickness of the pinion discs 9a,b,c,d without compromising too much on the maximally transferable torque. The radial extension of the magnetic field producing elements 13a,b,c can be reduced such that the teeth 1 1 extend radially further than the diameter of the mag netic field producing elements 13a,b,c (see Figs. 4, 6, 8 and 9).

[42] The bottom land 17 of the tooth spaces 19 is in the embodiment of Fig. 1 round with a single circular or oval fillet between neighbouring teeth 1 1. In contras††o a mechanical gear, the top land 15 of the teeth 1 1 is very important for the transfer of magnetic flux. Therefore, the ratio between the angular width of the top land 15 of each tooth 1 1 and the angular width of the roof 21 of each tooth 1 1 ranges between 0.8 and 1.25, and is preferably essentially 1.

[43] The embodiment of Fig. 3 differs from the embodiment of Fig. 1 in several aspects. Firstly, the rack component 3 is no† a single integral part of ferromagnetic material, but composed of a row of ferromag netic bars 23 extending along a lateral alignment direction A. Sec ondly, the lateral alignment direction A does no† extend along the x- axis, but is skewed by an angle a, wherein the angle a is spanned between a lateral alignment direction A and the x-axis. Thirdly, the pin ion stack component 5 only comprises three pinion discs 9a,b,c and two magnetic field producing elements 13a,b. Fourthly, neighbouring pinion discs 9a,b,c have a rotational position shifted by an angle (3 with respect†o each other. In combination with the bars 23 being skewed by the angle a, the angle (3 is correspondingly chosen so that all pinion discs 9a,b,c have the same phase with respect†o the skewed bars 23 of the rack component 3. This reduces a“sputtering” or“staggering” of the torque transfer. As indicated by the dashed lines, the shift angle (3 corresponds†o a relative angular shift about half the circular width of the teeth 1 1 between neighbouring pinion discs 9,a,b,c. Fifthly and fi nally, the shape of the teeth 1 1 is different with a flat bottom land 17 of the tooth spaces 19 and radially extending flanks 25.

[44] The embodiment shown in Figs. 4, 5 and 6 has again four pinion discs 9a,b,c,d and three magnetic field producing elements 13a,b,c, wherein no skew angle a or shift angle (3 is applied. The shape of the teeth 1 1 is essentially the same as in Fig. 3. The rack component 3 is a single integral ferromagnetic part with a crenelated top side as shown in Fig. 1. The pinion stack component 5 is coupled†o a rotor axle 27 along the rotor axis R for driving an electric generator 29 or to be driven by any kind of motor 29. A separating wall structure 31 is placed in the gap 7 between the rack component 3 and the pinion stack compon ent 5. [45] The embodiment of Figs. 7 and 8 show a rack component 3 composed of a row of bars 23 without any skew angle a applied. Oth erwise, the embodiment is the same as in Figs. 4, 5 and 6.

[46] The embodiment shown in Figs. 9, 10 and 1 1 show an integral rack component 3 with a skew angle a applied to the first pattern of ferromagnetic structure in form of a crenelated top side. Accordingly, a shit† angle (3 is applied in view of the angular position of neighbouring pinion discs 9a,b,c,d with relative to another. The shit† angle (3 corres ponds here to half a tooth width, i.e. 6° for 15 teeth 1 1 per pinion disc 9a,b,c,d and 15 tooth spaces 19 with the same angular width as the teeth 1 1 . In addition, the teeth 1 1 of each pinion disc 9a,b,c,d are skewed by a twist angle g about the rotor axis R to adapt the shape of the teeth 1 1†o the skewed rack component 3.

[47] It should be noted that for all three embodiments shown in Figs. 4 to 1 1 , the ratio between the first period PI defined by the first pattern of ferromagnetic structure and the second period P2 defined by the second pattern of ferromagnetic structure is approximately 1 .25. The ratio may be chosen in the range of 0.8 to 1 .5, such as in the range of 0.8 to 1 .25. Furthermore, all embodiments shown in the Figures have a pinion stack component 5 with an axial through-hole 32 along the rotor axis R for receiving a rotor shaft 27. Plowever, the pinion stack compon ent 5 may be arranged in a drum or the stack is held together other wise so that an axial through-hole 32 is not necessarily needed for the pinion stack component 5.

[48] Fig. 12 shows an embodiment in which the rack component 3 is arc-shaped but almost-linear in the limited area of magnetic coupling in the gap 7 between the pinion stack component 5 and the rack com ponent 3. In this shown example, the first pattern of ferromagnetic struc ture of the rack component 5 is arranged along a full cylindrical plane having a centre axis C essentially parallel to the rotor axis R. The rack length axis L extends in circumferential direction along the cylindrical plane. The relative motion between the pinion stack component 5 and the rack component 3 may be a unidirectional, bidirectional, continu ous or oscillating rotational motion along the circular path L. The dia meter D of the cylindrical plane is here about five to six times larger than the diameter d of the pinion stack component 5. The first pattern of ferromagnetic structure faces here radially inward and, accordingly, the pinion stack component 5 is placed radially inward from the rack component 3. If it faced outward, the pinion stack component 5 would be placed radially outward from the rack component 3. Due to the substantial differences in diameter, i.e. D » d, a rotational motion of the rack component 3 appears to the pinion stack component 5 as an al- most-linear motion in the limited area of magnetic coupling between them.

[49] Figs. 13 and 14 show another embodiment in which the rack component 3 is curved but almost-linear in the limited area of mag netic coupling in the gap 7 between the pinion stack component 5 and the rack component 3. The first pattern of ferromagnetic structure is here arranged along a full circular path on a full annular plane hav ing a centre axis C essentially perpendicular†o the rotor axis R, wherein the rack length axis L extends along the circular path in the annular plane. Analogous to the previously described embodiment, the aver age diameter D of the annular plane is five to six times larger than the average diameter d of the pinion stack component 5. Due to the sub stantial differences in diameter, i.e. D » d, a rotational motion of the rack component 3 (unidirectional, bidirectional, continuous or oscillat ing) appears to the pinion stack component 5 as an almost-linear mo tion in the limited area of magnetic coupling in the gap 7 between them. The rotor axis R of the pinion stack component 5 points here radi ally inward, i.e. toward the centre axis C, above the annular plane of the rack component 3, and the velocity vector v = w x r of the first pattern of ferromagnetic structure increases radially outward, i.e. away from the centre axis C, for a given angular velocity of the rack com ponent 3. Therefore, the diameter of the individual pinion discs 9a-d dif fers along the rotor axis R accordingly. This means that radially more inwardly, i.e. closer to the centre axis C, located pinion discs 9a-d have a smaller diameter than radially more outward, i.e. further away from the centre axis C, pinion discs 9a-d†o compensate for the radially out wardly increasing velocity vector v = w x r of the firs† pattern of ferro magnetic structure. The pinion discs 9a-d have here a conical frustrum shape with radially inwardly, i.e. toward the centre axis C, decreasing diameter. The gap 7 increases here radially inwardly, i.e. toward the centre axis C, but it may be kept essentially uniform by a bevelled firs† ferromagnetic structure of the rack component 3. The rack component 3 and the pinion stack component 5 may thus be coupled similar to bevel gears. Alternatively, or in addition, the rotor axis R could be tilted downward†o achieve an essentially uniform gap 7.

[50] Figs. 15, 16 and 17 show a sea wave energy conversion system 33 making use of a number (here four) of magnetic rack-and-pinion coup ling systems 1 as described above. The sea wave energy conversion system 33 comprises a guiding structure 35 defining a tubular inner volume 37 having a multifaced (such as squared) cross-section and extending longitudinally along a linear axis L extending down into the water. The guiding structure may extend essentially corresponding to the vertical axis. The sea wave energy conversion system 33 further comprises a buoyance body 39 being movable within the tubular inner volume 37 along the linear axis L relative†o the guiding structure 35. The sea wave energy conversion system 33 further comprises a number of magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling systems 1 located a† all or some of the sides of the tubular inner volume 37. Each magnetic rack-and-pin ion coupling systems 1 is configured†o transfer a linear motion of the buoyance body 39 relative†o the guiding structure 35†o a rotational motion of a rotor axis R for driving an associated electric generator 29. The rack component 3 of each magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling sys tem 1 extends along the linear axis L at the associated lateral side fixed to the buoyant body 39. The pinion stack component 5 and the electric generator 29 are mounted to the guiding structure 35 at the associated lateral side to the tubular inner volume 37. The magnetic rack-and-pin- ion coupling systems 1 may for example be arranged in a four-fold rota tional symmetry around the linear axis L at essentially the same or differ ent heigh† along the linear rack length axis L.

[51 ] The guiding structure 35 may be attached and/or moored to a floating, preferably anchored, structure (not shown) in a way which allows almost free up and down motion of the guiding structure 35. Al ternatively, the guiding structure 35 may be anchored or moored itself or fixed relative to the seabed. However, the guiding structure 35 in the shown embodiments is buoyant due to a buoyance portion 41 of the guiding structure 35. The buoyance portion 41 surrounds an upper sec tion of the tubular inner volume 37. The guiding structure 35 thus follows heaving forces of sea waves quicker than the buoyance body 39 within the tubular inner volume 37 where it is somewhat shielded from the dir ect wave influence and therefore reacts with a delay and/or a differ ent frequency. Thereby, the sea waves drive a motion of the buoyant body 39 relative to the buoyant guiding structure 35.

[52] The guiding structure or some or all of the racks may additionally or alternatively be arranged at an angle rather than vertically. This may be advantageous for structures exploiting tide water†o generate en ergy.

[53] Figs. 18a,b,c show three different stages of relative linear motion between the buoyance body 39 and the guiding structure 35 of an other embodiment of the sea wave energy conversion system 33. The pinion stack components 5 of the magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling systems 1 are each enclosed in a housing 43 against the corrosive envir- onmen† of sea wafer. Fig. 18a shows an equilibrium stage for a flat sea without waves (indicated by a virtual flat sea level NN). Fig. 18b shows the stage when a peak of a sea wave W passes the sea wave energy conversion system 33. The buoyant guiding structure 35 with the buoy ant portion 41 follows quickly and is at a high altitude. The buoyance body 39 within the tubular inner volume 37 follows slower and is thus positioned low relative to the guiding structure 35. The opposite stage is shown in Fig. 18c when a trough of a sea wave W passes the sea wave energy conversion system 33. The buoyant guiding structure 35 with the buoyant portion 41 follows quickly and is at a low altitude, whereas the water level in the tubular inner volume 37 is still high so that the buoy ance body 39 is positioned high relative to the guiding structure 35.

[54] The magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling systems 1 provide a ro bust, efficient and low-maintenance solution for transferring the relative linear motion into a rotational torque for driving an electric generator 29, or for transferring a rotational motion of a motor 29 into a linear mo tion of the rack component 3 relative to the pinion stack component 5.

[55] Where, in the foregoing description, integers or elements are mentioned which have known, obvious or foreseeable equivalents, then such equivalents are herein incorporated as if individually set forth. Reference should be made to the claims for determining the true scope of the present disclosure, which should be construed so as to encompass any such equivalents. It will also be appreciated by the reader that integers or features of the disclosure that are described as optional, preferable, advantageous, convenient or the like are optional and do not limit the scope of the independent claims.

[56] The above embodiments are to be understood as illustrative ex amples of the disclosure. It is to be understood that any feature de scribed in relation to any one embodiment may be used alone, or in combination with other features described, and may also be used in combination with one or more features of any other of the embodi ments, or any combination of any other of the embodiments. While at least one exemplary embodiment has been shown and described, it should be understood that other modifications, substitutions and altern atives are apparent†o one of ordinary skill in the art and may be changed without departing from the scope of the subject matter de scribed herein, and this application is intended to cover any adapta tions or variations of the specific embodiments discussed herein.

[57] In addition, "comprising" does not exclude other elements or steps, and "a" or "one" does not exclude a plural number. Furthermore, characteristics or steps which have been described with reference to one of the above exemplary embodiments may also be used in com bination with other characteristics or steps of other exemplary embodi ments described above. Method steps may be applied in any order or in parallel or may constitute a par† or a more detailed version of an other method step. It should be understood that there should be em bodied within the scope of the paten† warranted hereon all such modi fications as reasonably and properly come within the scope of the con tribution†o the art. Such modifications, substitutions and alternatives can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the dis closure, which should be determined from the appended claims and their legal equivalents.

[58] List of reference numerals:

1 magnetic rack-and-pinion coupling system

3 rack component

5 pinion stack component

7 gap

9a,b,c,d pinion discs

teeth 13a,b,c magnetic field producing elements

14 axial front side of magnetic field producing element

15 fop land of teeth

16 axial end side of magnetic field producing element

17 bottom land of tooth spaces

19 foofh spaces

21 roof of tooth

23 ferromagnetic bars

25 flanks of teeth

27 rotor axle

29 electric generator or motor

31 wall structure

33 sea wave energy conversion system

35 guiding structure

37 tubular inner volume

39 buoyance body

41 buoyant portion of guiding structure

43 housing

R rotor axis

L linear axis

C centre axis

D diameter of cylindrical or annular plane of rack component D (average) diameter of pinion stack component

A lateral alignment direction

PI firs† period

P2 second period

NN virtual flat sea level

W sea wave

a skew angle for rack component

b shift angle for rack component

Y twist angle for teeth