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““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““UK cuts rare metals from electric car motors

researchers turn to switched-reluctance
The Government is to fund the development of car traction motors that do not need rare-earth magnets.

The project, ‘Rapid design and development of a switched reluctance traction motor’, will be led by Cobham Technical Services and involve Jaguar Land-Rover and automotive design house Ricardo.

“Virtually all electric traction motors currently used in such applications employ permanent magnets made from materials such as neodymium-iron-boron and samarium-cobalt,” said Cobham. “Since switched reluctance motors [SRMs] do not use permanent magnets, they are likely to provide the ideal replacement technology.”

This said, SRMs use only the attraction between iron and an electromagnetic field, rather than the attraction and repulsion available between a magnet and an electromagnetic field, so they need to be larger and heavier for any given power output. They also traditionally suffer from acoustic ringing in the rotor.

“One of the main challenges of the project will be to produce a torque-dense motor that is also quiet enough for use in luxury vehicles,” conceded Cobham.

One of Cobham’s products is the electromagnetic modelling tool Vector Fields.

As part of its work in the project, and with data from the other two firms, Cobham will develop what it describes as “multi-physics software” to simulate, design and analyse the motors.
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