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Researchers design electric motor that doesn’t use rare earth magnets

Longmont, CO — Researchers in Colorado have developed an electromagnetic motor design that produces power similar to today’s electric motors without using scarce and expensive rare earth elements.


Longmont, CO — Researchers in Colorado have developed an electromagnetic motor design that produces power similar to today’s electric motors without using scarce and expensive rare earth elements.

UQM Technologies Inc. announced the breakthrough in the development of non-rare-earth magnet electric motor design as part of work being done under the US Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research and Development Grant.

“Leveraging our expertise in electric motor design, we’ve developed an electromagnetic design that produces competitive power-density and efficiency with non-rare-earth magnets,” said Eric R. Ridenour, president and CEO of UQM Technologies.

This work on non-rare-earth magnet motors is funded through a $4-million award to UQM as part of a DOE Advanced Research and Development Grant.

UQM is cost-sharing 25% of the total effort. The engineering team at UQM is working collaboratively with Ames Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop and apply these non-rare-earth magnets in a high-performance permanent magnet motor.

Jon Lutz, vice-president of UQM, says the key to using non-rare-earth magnets in electric motors for vehicles is in the motor geometry, which in part defines the shape and magnetization direction of the permanent magnets.

“The completion of the electromagnetic design and analysis task is a significant step in the process of advancing motor and generator technology for electric and hybrid electric vehicles, providing an alternative to rare-earth magnets in permanent-magnet motor designs,” Lutz said.

The next phase under the DOE grant is the mechanical design of the motor, which UQM says is now underway with a proof-of-concept unit expected to be built within the next calendar year.


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