Breakthrough in Rare Earth Metal-Free Electric Motor Technology

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

With hybrid cars a common sight on our roads, and pure electric vehicles growing in popularity by the day, something that has held the interest of researchers in addition to the drive to improve battery technology has been the search for a battery design that does not require permanent magnets that use rare earth metals.

Rare earth metals add cost and obviously also have a finite supply. For Japanese car manufacturers there is an additional incentive to move away from them, which is that Japan has no native supplies of these metals, and is reliant on its neighbor, China – a country that has had an uneasy relationship with Japan for decades, and who is also increasingly becoming a powerful economic competitor.

So there are a number of reasons why this breakthrough design by Nobukazu Hoshi’s team at the Tokyo University of Science is an important development in EV and hybrid electric propulsion system design. The motor produces 50KW of power with more than 95% efficiency. The downside is that the current design has more vibration and lacks the levels of torque generally generated by an electric motor.

As to how it works, well I have to say this video makes this very clear.

On the other hand, the good old internal combustion engine is hardly a model of smoothness and linear torque delivery itself, so even if this new motor required the use of – gasp – a gearbox, it could hardly be derided as any worse than the current power unit of choice.

Of course, this current design is simply a prototype, and Mr. Hoshi and his team of engineers will be working towards bringing their motor up to a level that is at least comparable to the vibration and torque standards of current commercial motors, at which point they will have a very competitive product on their hands.

Source: MSN (Japanese)

 

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