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The SS in question is 316, and is only weakly magnetic. Does anyone know whether this is possible?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How thick is it? How much powah? For thin stuff it's possible, though there may be losses & heating which may or may not be acceptable. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 16:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's bad - 12mm. As for how much, probably around the 1W level. It's only an idea at present for removing a connector from a vacuum system. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 16:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is the stainless vessel grounded or electrically floating? What is the geometric configuration? \$\endgroup\$
    – bigjosh
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 19:52

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It's not its magnetic properties that are the problem - it will have induced into it AC eddy currents that will pretty much kill off your magnetic field. I don't think you'd get 1 watt through 1 mm SS let alone 12 mm unless you were operating at 10 Hz (that's hertz not kilo hertz).

EDIT (not related to the question) - you'd be surprised about the odd magnetic properties of "mm sizes" of 316 SS at between 50 kHz and 1 MHz, specifically 300 kHz. Just stuff I've observed when designing food and pharmaceutical metal detectors.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I believe sub mm thickness is often also used as EM shielding to block the more magnetic (current coupled) portion of waves. \$\endgroup\$
    – MadHatter
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 14:52
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I think you have a reasonable chance of doing this at mains frequency. 316 SS is quite resistive and almost non-magnetic at room temperature so a 60Hz field should easily penetrate 12mm- skin depth at 50 or 60Hz is more than 5cm.

There would be a lot of leakage inductance so the resulting transformer would have a lot of effective series impedance.

I'm visualizing something like an 'pot core' shape turned from iron or magnetically soft steel with the SS wall between the two halves.

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This is certainly possible.

Since you do not list any efficiency requirements, one solution might be to drive an AC current across (not though) the stainless steel, and use a pickup inside the vessel to inductively generate power inside the vessel. The coil does not touch the stainless steel wall.

enter image description here

Here I am showing the half of the AC where the current if flowing from left to right across a wall of the vessel (the arrow pointing left). This generates the circular magnetic field lines around the path of the current though the stainless steel wall.

You would position the interior pickup coil so that these circular field lines cut though it as the get bigger and smaller (the coil is parallel with the path of the current in the wall).

You would pick the number of turns for the interior coil based on the volts/amps you need inside the vessel.

Think of it as a transformer where the primary (the stainless) has 1 turn.

If you need DC inside the vacuum, then you'd need to rectify and filter the power coming off the interior coil.

There are many ways you could potentially make this arrangement more practical, but they are dependent on the geometry of your setup.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmmm...**WARNING: ELECTROCUTION HAZARD** besides that "little drawback," the theory is workable/doable...just that energizing a (most likely human accessible) SS surface from AC mains is a terrible Idea! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 12, 2016 at 13:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ There is no suggestion of using mains voltage here! Considering that the vessel wall is SS, the AC source voltage would very low- almost certainly less than 1 volt. \$\endgroup\$
    – bigjosh
    Commented Feb 14, 2016 at 17:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ At those kinds of voltage current points (potentially >10A at ~1V) I'd be a little worried about electrolytic effects (depending on the nature of the whole system), especially as 316 is 10-15% Cr! \$\endgroup\$
    – Dannie
    Commented Apr 22, 2022 at 16:32
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There is no way you are going to move 1W of power through 12mm of SS, thin sheets are used for EMC shielding for a reason, it is decent at absorbing magnetic fields as well as electric ones.

Can you give more details about the device, maybe there are other methods of power transfer...

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    \$\begingroup\$ Strictly speaking, you are confusing a power level which is required for an efficiency requirement which hasn't been given. If the experiment is "serious" enough that the chamber has a 12mm thick wall, I'd imagine something like 1% efficiency - 100 watts expended to couple 1 watt through - might not be unacceptable. At what frequency that could be achieved is an interesting question. Of course whatever power regulator or filter or related stuff goes on the inside has to be vacuum rated (or at least not outgass problematically), a complication which may make the idea less interesting. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 23:52
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Would it be acceptable to replace the connector with a nickel-plated, ferrite/mild-steel 'core?'

If so, you could rabbet-joint & NASA low-gas-epoxy in a small diameter transformer core so that a portion of it sits flush with (or even behind, say, 1-2mm of un-removed SS) the 'device-side' surface, to closely couple the magnetic flux from your exterior coil to the base of your device, where your secondary windings are placed, to receive the power.

If that's not an option, then I guess there's always the "put a 300W electro-magnet on the outside of the SS & deal with the losses" approach. However, I'm guessing that you most likely aren't trying to design an induction cooker that heats your whole SS surface with 299W of power.

Also, while not generally a 'preferred' option, it may be 'feasible' to transfer a small amount of power through 12mm of SS using ultrasound (or other physical vibrations), rather than E/M coupling. This would be a "far from efficient" approach, and 1W would likely be approaching an upper-limit for plausibility, but if all else fails, it could be worth consideration.

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At my opinion, typical double U-shaped transformer divided into two parts will solve the problem due to low permittivity and conductivity of vacuum steel. But there will be problems due to vacuum. Typical lamellar core has large and developed surface area and and thus will bring unacceptable contamination into vacuum system. The coil has same problem. Thus, it is necessary to make core yourself from bulk steel, make coil frame from PTFE or something other with low gassing, and wind the inside coil from wire washed with gasoline. Transformer should work at low frequency to reduce Eddy currents.

Another way is to use existing door or vacuum pipe, which is isolated from the chamber by rubber ring, as second electrode. (chamber is first) Typical KF or CF flanges can be made insulated by putting polyimide film between touching steel surfaces while not altering sealing surfaces.

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