The Science Behind Electromagnets

People often associate electromagnets with science fiction or futuristic technology, like trains that hover or large devices that can simulate a black hole. It often surprises a lot of people that electromagnets are quite commonplace and you likely have at least two in your home.

The industrial applications for electromagnets are vast. Wrecking yards use large electromagnets to move scrap metal and sometimes even vehicles from one location to another via a crane or a conveyor belt. In your own home you may find electromagnets in your speakers amplifying the sound of your favourite band. Or even more common, you’ll find your very own tiny electromagnet located in the front doorbell of your home. If you have an underground sprinkler system, you’ll find the on/off function to open and close valves is also controlled by electromagnets. Even the memory storage in your computer or laptop uses electromagnets to store information. They’re everywhere!

The Science Behind Electromagnets

The Science Behind Electromagnets

Why are electromagnets so popular?
A lot of magnets are simply magnetic all the time. The amazing thing about electromagnets is they can be turned on and off. The doorbell is a classic example because when someone pushes it, an electrical loop in the device is closed causing a magnetic field to be created, pulling the metal clapper back. When the doorbell is released, the magnetic field is shut off and the clapper springs back to strike the bell. This kind of control over a magnetic field gives it a vast array of applications.

How do electromagnets work?
The science isn’t actually all that complicated. In fact, you can create al electromagnet yourself using a bit of insulated copper, wound around a metal rod (like a screw), and a battery. The more times you wrap the wire around the rod, the stronger the magnetic field.

It’s the application of electricity that makes all the difference and it’s what puts the ‘electro’ in electromagnets. When you introduce an electrical current from a battery it flows through the wire (and heats it, which is why it’s important to insulate the wire). This current creates a magnetic field around the wire, magnetizing the metal rod as if it were a permanent magnet. Cut the power supply and the magnet field disappears. Apply power, the magnetic field is reengaged giving you a magnet on-demand!

Electromagnets for Industrial Application
When it comes to separating metal from pretty much anything, electromagnets are perfect for the job. Whether it’s working with scrap metal, or ensuring no metal ends up in a product where it shouldn’t be, there are lots of ways an electromagnetic separator can be used for industrial application.

Contact MPCO to learn more about how an electromagnet can be used to work within your industrial application needs.

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