Motor that Could Potentially Transform EVs Industry

There is no doubt that electrification is key to addressing climate change.

  Because electricity is

  • is a clean, safe, cheap and convenient source of energy
  • Lower maintenance cost
  • More efficient
  • No tailpipe emission
  • We all know that it can be set up in many sizes
  • It doesn’t require as many employees
  • Reduces greenhouse emission
  • Makes barely any pollution compare to other ways of creating or generating electricity
  • Relatively low maintenance cost
  • Hydroelectric station are inexpensive to operate
  • Hydroelectricity produces no gas emissions or waste
  • A station can operate and run for long periods of time
  • It is renewable.    

 But most electric vehicles on our roads today use permanent magnet motors. This is because it’s a proven technology and was, until now, thought to be the most efficient means of powering a vehicle. The issue we have with permanent magnet motor technology is that each unit uses some 2kg of rare-earth magnets.                                                                                                                       

 Ultimately, however, things need to change — there are grave costs to using rare earth metals. The mining of rare earth metals is, in short, damaging to the environment and harmful to those involved. For every single tonne of rare earth metals mined, it’s been reported that up to 1.4 tonnes of radioactive waste can also be produced. Mining 12 tonnes can generate enough acid-containing sewage water to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool. If you compare rare earth mining to steel production, mining rare earths creates over 11 times more CO2 than every tonne of steel manufactured. It’s not just the social and environmental issues of rare earth mining that need to be considered. As their name suggests, rare earth metals are only available in low quantities globally due to the highly complex process involved in their extraction. And scarcity, unsurprisingly, translates into a premium price point and a volatile trading market. From February 2020 to February 2022, the cost of neodymium has risen by 312%, with one kilogram now costing more than $236, compared to $42 just two years ago. How can vehicle manufacturers scale their models with fluctuations as dramatic as that?                                                                                                    

The answer is Robert Sansone’s idea.

Sansone created a prototype of a novel synchronous reluctance motor that had greater rotational force — or torque — and efficiency than existing ones. The prototype was made from 3-D printed plastic, copper wires and a steel rotor and tested using a variety of meters to measure power and a laser tachometer to determine the motor’s rotational speed. His work earned him first prize, and $75,000 in winnings, at this year’s Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), the largest international high school STEM competition.

“Rare-earth materials in existing electric motors are a major factor undermining the sustainability of electric vehicles,” he says. “Seeing the day when EVs are fully sustainable due to the help of my novel motor design would be a dream come true.”

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