P16228: Magnetically Levitated Propeller

Problem Definition

Table of Contents

The idea behind the magnetically levitated propeller is to us magnets to stabilize and control the propeller, eliminating the need for conventional bearings and seals that eventually wear out and leak.

The goals of this project are to design and create a working prototype mag lev propeller where there is no contact between the moving and stationary parts. Existing magnetic bearings may be used, or an entirely new design may be created. The end result is expected to be real-world adaptable in order for Boeing and other stakeholders to utilize in submersible ROVs.

Team Vision for Problem Definition Phase


Our team had several goals planned for this phase. We wanted to meet with our customer and conduct an interview ensuring that the customer’s goals were communicated clearly with the team and that any confusion was sorted out. We also wanted to create a problem definition that could be agreed upon. Our third goal was to create a practical user scenario that our project might end up being part of. Our last goal, was to allow time for team bonding, which would create the best environment to complete the project in.


During this phase we accomplished or began to accomplish each of the goals listed above. We met with our customer twice, going over a list of questions ensuring that there was no confusion and that our ultimate project goal was clear. Our problem definition has been create and agreed upon. The third goal of completing a practical user scenario can be seen in the flow chart below. Lastly, as a team we have started to bond through our meetings, classes and work time spent together.

Project Summary

A magnetically levitated propeller is a single axis propeller lifted through a magnetic bearing system. The purpose of this device is to remove the need for any physical contact between the rotating and stationary pieces of the propeller system. This is incorporated into a machine to prevent wear and tear of the propeller. It should remove the need for shafts, seals, and allow the propeller to be used in a submersible machine. Currently the levitated propeller design has been used on ROVs to go for deep sea diving and retrieves items in the water, and the overall design has been used since the 1980s. Also trains have used similar technology called Maglev, which integrates the magnetic bearings and currently two maglev trains are operated with the newest opening to the public in 2005.

This project includes the goals of creating either a fully levitated propeller or just partially levitated. It can either be completed by creating an entirely new design of a magnetic bearing system or altering one that was previously made. Other deliverables included for the project are all documents, measurements of performance, thrust (rpm & velocity), weight, power consumption, velocity, non-dimensional analysis of results, and participating at Imagine RIT. This design should make the propeller more efficient, have a longer life, prevent wear and leakage, and only has one point of contact. The desired result is to preferably create a fully magnetically levitated system that can be used for submersible ROVs for Boeing. Overall it should follow limitations of the intellectual property and allow Boeing to gain an advantage in the ROV market. For more information take a look at the Project charter.

Problem Statements

Use Cases


Use cases are a means of project justification. Though this particular project is a proof-of-concept, root interest for it is in the integration of the propeller system into an underwater ROV application. Displayed below is a non-exhaustive list of general scenarios where an ROV might be used.
Use Scenario 1 - Exploration

Use Scenario 1 - Exploration

Use Scenario 2 - Search & Rescue

Use Scenario 2 - Search & Rescue

Use Scenario 3 - Recreation

Use Scenario 3 - Recreation

Project Goals and Key Deliverables

  1. All design documents
  2. Working prototype
  3. Performance measurements (thrust, weight, velocity, etc.) Benchmarking
  4. Non-dimensional analysis of results, allowing scalability
  5. Technical paper
  6. Poster
  7. Participation at ImagineRIT


Below is a list of potential stakeholders for this project; they can all be affected by the outcome of this project.
  1. Boeing (sponsor)
  2. Dr. Day (Customer)
  3. RIT
  4. MSD Group
  5. Military
  6. ROV Manufacturers
  7. Safety Agency

Customer Requirements (Needs)

Project customer, Dr. Steven Day was interviewed to gain perspective on desired project outcomes. His thoughts and requests were compiled into a list of Customer Requirements. It's important to note that this project was designated as proof-of-concept rather than application development.

Customer Requirements

Customer Requirements

Dialogue from our customer interview and the corresponding customer requirements document are available for reference.

Engineering Requirements (Metrics & Specifications)

Engineering Requirements

Engineering Requirements

Note: Multiple customer requirements could result in just one engineering requirement.


Below is a list of potential constraints which we may face during this project. These constraints are driven by customer requirements and the availability of time and many other resources as well.

House of Quality


The House of Quality is used both to confirm that the team has a set of Engineering Requirements to meet all Customer Requirements, as well as providing a means to facilitate design trade-off decisions.
House of Quality

House of Quality

The team's House of Quality document for reference.

Design Review Materials

Include links to: Benchmarking

Review 1

Plans for next phase

Elijah Sensenig

Mike Purcell

Bernie Garcia

Joe Bernardini

Project Schedule (Phase 2)

Project Schedule (Phase 2)

Gantt Chart - Phase 2

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