Saturday, March 2, 2024

British researchers develop a super-light electric motor 3D-printed

The researchers of the University of Sheffield, in collaboration with a team of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, have developed the prototype of a new lighter and more efficient electric motor printed in 3D, using affordable metal PBF 3D printing technology. It might be a development able to pave the way to future electric motors to increase their power using less material.
The prototype uses a higher-percentage silicon electrical steel that reduces energy losses and it consists of a stator, a circular-shaped object with prongs that wires can be wrapped around to create a magnetic field.
The biggest design difference between the prototype and traditional stators can be seen in the prongs themselves, as they feature an intricate design of thin geometric lines meant to reduce energy loss.
«When you have 30% lower mass, you would expect that your torque would also be lower, but that wasn’t the case. So, this shows that you know you’re actually going to net torque density improvement in this machine and if we can further improve this, (making a more efficient 3D printed electric motor) would be a game changer» said one of the researchers.
Il team added: «This project has shown the large potential that additive manufacturing has for electrical machines, with lightweight, efficient structures that have never before been possible using any other manufacturing technique. It was a pleasure to work with the team at Wempec to turn this idea into a reality».

The RPLab laboratory opens the doors

In the Engineering Department of Palermo University, RPLab – Rapid Prototyping Laboratory is the laboratory where they design and implement prototypes of electronic power converters, control, conditioning and interface boards for research ambits in automotive, industrial and net-connected fields. Its interior hosts forefront LPKF Laser & Electronics machines. Managers have recently published a video that shows how is created an interface screen for an electric drive control based on a multi-level inverter and a permanent magnet brushless motor.
A showcase that accompanies the proposal of visiting the laboratory, which opens its doors to all to show its excellence and which is at the service of the Rapid Prototyping Laboratory graduation course.

Fraunhofer IPA: towards the “repair of motors”

20In the e-bike market, one of the hottest problems is the failure of the electric motor. Nowadays, the replacement of the unit occurs in the vast majority of cases. In the light of this situation, the team from Fraunhofer IPA Institute, headed by the project manager Jan Koller, wondered whether it was possible to develop a more circular motor model, providing for the repair instead of the replacement. The first step consisted in the implementation of 3D models and in the creation of spare parts with 3D additive printing, testing the various types of materials and manufacturing over 120 components in 20 different materials. Motors were then reassembled and subjected to severe tests on bench and with real load. Results? The motors so overhauled have offered the same performances as newly-manufactured motors, and with the same guarantee. What is more difficult, economically speaking, is establishing the breakeven point in the motor reconditioning business.

The new innovative battery by Stellantis that combines an inverter and a charger

After four years of intense projects and severe simulations, a team of 25 specialists who include engineers and researchers of Cnrs, the French National Centre of Scientific Research, has revealed a battery system known as Ibis (Integrated System of Intelligent Batteries). Ibis is supported by the Future Investment Plan, managed by Ademe (the French agency for the environment and the energy management) and coordinated by Stellantis. The primary participants in the project include Saft (TotalEnergies Group), E2CAD and Sherpa Engineering, together with the research laboratories of Cnrs and Institut Lafayette.
The specificity of this innovation resides in its design: the battery combines an inverter and a charger, notably increasing the efficiency and the longevity of batteries for electric vehicles. Moreover, this new configuration decreases costs and at the same time frees inner space in the vehicle.
Ibis is not only a product, but a real project that started in summer 2022, a system that changes the way according to which conversion boards are positioned as close as possible to the elements of the lithium-ion battery: a strategic position that allows the battery to produce directly alternate current for the electric motor.
Ibis has the potential to reduce the weight and the manufacturing costs of electric vehicles and to widen the range of available functions. From the point of view of the stationary energy, Saft provides for offering turnkey plants that enable a more efficient energy use, decreasing the environmental impact. Ibis battery by Stellantis also offers a simplified maintenance and an enhancement of plants.

Digital twins and electric motors, studies and startups to innovate

A global research by Altair, American company specialized in computational science and in Artificial Intelligence (AI), involved over 2,000 professionals from 11 sectors in 10 Countries on the Digital Twin theme. Results describe the widespread use of the Digital Twin in numerous fields, with the automotive in the first place, to make cars more efficient and sustainable and to shorten the time to market of electric vehicles. The automotive industry is the second major user of the Digital Twin technology (76%), just preceded by manufacturers of heavy equipment. The primary highlights would reside in the energy saving and in the more efficient use of resources (time, work hours and raw materials), with fewer rejects and wastes. Digital Twin solutions decrease, for instance, the material waste, through simulations and tests carried out during the design process. In this way, the number of physical prototypes needed before the production start is reduced.
Concerning the electrification of motors, Andrea Benedetto, CEO of Altair, stated: «The issue is always optimization. The challenge is to succeed in designing vehicles that weigh less and motors with higher efficiencies for specific use missions. In this way, performances improve and consumptions decrease. In this ambit as well, the Digital Twin can make the difference since development costs. It allows a faster and more efficacious process, driven by optimization».
Concerning this, a recent Italian example is Newtwen, a Padua startup set up by a team of three young researchers and two professors of the local University who have developed a software platform that generates extremely accurate virtual replications of physical systems, able to integrate them inside systems themselves to improve the performances, the longevity and the reliability, without the need of adding new electronic hardware components. The declared target is revolutionizing the future of the mobility and of the sustainable energy by decreasing the environmental impact and the consumptions of electric

Heft project for a new recyclable electric motor

Heft is the name of a European research that will be accomplished by the half of 2026, with the participation of Alma Mater Studiorum of University of Bologna and the Spanish University Mondragon Unibertsitatea. The target is developing a new motor for electric cars. Researchers are working at new synchronous permanent-magnet drive system able to assure lower costs, better efficiency and higher power, reducing the use of rare earths by even 50-60%.
The project, in fact, complies with Erma (European Raw Materials Alliance) goal, which intends to reduce the Old Continent’s external dependence on the front of the provisioning of rare earths, with at least 20% internal support to the demand within 2030.
Among the other targets, also the strengthening of the circular economy, with a new fully recyclable model, able to create development on the territory, meanwhile improving the green all-round approach. The European Union pursued the Heft project, allocating 4 million Euros in its favour, in the ambit of Horizon 2020, instrument of funding to the scientific research and innovation by the European Commission. The project started on December 1st 2022 and will go on for 42 months.
The specialists involved in the project are facing a series of innovative challenges concerning its configuration, focusing efforts on SiC inverters and on materials. For the validation of these high-efficiency low-cost innovations two successful electric cars will be taken as benchmark: Fiat 500e and Volkswagen ID.3.

RISORSA, an innovative way to recycle rare-earth magnets in waste electrical and electronic equipment

The improvement of living conditions and safeguarding the environment go through the planning and reuse of resources. Circular economy can help in several industrial sectors, primarily transport, where electrification relies on critical materials. Rare Earths Elements (such as Nd, Dy, Pr,…) are mandatory to obtain the strongest permanent magnets, but they are rather expensive and subjected to the fluctuation of the market, so that the manufacturing of Electric Vehicles may become very challenging.
A possibility is given by recycling Rare Earths – mainly NdFeB magnets – from other devices; however current recycling techniques are complex and make use of hydrogen or chemical solvents.
In this context, the INSTM consortium (National Interuniversity Consortium of Materials Science and Technology) through its research unit of Politecnico di Torino, University of Florence and University of Parma, together with the cooperation of the Italian Companies RISTA srl, OSAI Automation System, DEMAP and SITEM, proposed a new method to recover Rare Earth elements, which was developed in a project named RISORSA (Rare-earth magnets from RAEE for high-efficiency electromagnetic systems -RIciclo SOstenibile di magneti di terre rare da Raee per Sistemi elettromagnetici ad Alta efficienza).
The activity started by collecting hard disks used in old PCs. Magnets were separated from hard disks through an automatic precision system. Recycled NdFeB powder was obtained using a mechanical technique, based on a vacuum impact mill. The process uses no chemical solvents and does not require to operate in environment containing hydrogen. The obtained powder showed no added oxidation and a good magnetic microstructure. The recycled powder was then used to produce new NdFeB magnets. Considering all aspects, the process cost is lower than 50 €/kg, which makes these new magnets interesting for sectors like electrical transport both in road and aircraft.

By MIT, an electric 1 MW motor to electrify aviation

The electric motor created by MIT engineers to power even large size aircrafts has the power of 1 megawatt. The motor might also be paired with a conventional jet engine to create a hybrid propulsion system. Until now, in fact, only small full-electric aircrafts have taken off, whereas to electrify larger and heavier jets, like airliners, megawatt motors are needed. The 1-megawatt motor developed by MIT might be a fundamental step towards this direction. For fully electric applications, the team provides the motor can be coupled with a source of electricity such as a battery or a fuel cell. Therefore, the motor could transform the electric energy into mechanical work to power the propellers of an aircraft. The electric machine might also be matched to a conventional turbofan jet engine to operate as hybrid drivetrain, providing electric propulsion during some flight phases. Zoltan Spakovszky, T. A. Wilson Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT declared: No matter what we use as an energy carrier (batteries, hydrogen, ammonia, or sustainable aviation fuel) independent of all that, megawatt-class motors will be a key enabler for greening aviation”. The professor added: “This is hard engineering, in terms of co-optimizing individual components and making them compatible with each other while maximizing overall performance. To do this means we have to push the boundaries in materials, manufacturing, thermal management, structures and rotordynamics, and power electronics”. (Picture @Airbus SAS 2023)

Environmental and acoustic impact, the electric motor plays a central role in marine

electrical outlets for charging on boats in the harbor background, horizontal frame

Sima, the Italian company of environmental medicine, has expressed its opinion on the occasion of the last Electric Boat Show. “The reconversion of the over 570,000 leisure boats, 50% of which are under 10 metres, today present in Italy, would contribute in the attainment of 40% of Net Zero targets by 2030, as provided for by EU, and in the decrease of impacts not only of navigation, but also of storage services and the restoration of marine ecosystems in port areas “.
Hence the reflection that the electric boating is an important boost for industry to upgrade the whole naval technology, to frame it in a vision of circular economy with innovative eco-composite materials.
The use of electric boats allows the zeroing of the release of the typical noxious substances of traditional boats, in both water and in atmosphere, such as aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons, particulate, fine and ultra-fine particulates, nitrogen and sulphur oxides, mineral oils. Moreover, Sima has underlined how the shift to electric motors drastically decreases the acoustic pollution in the sea, with benefits for the whole marine ecosystem, also implying a notable upsurge in boats’ energy efficiency, increasing it from an average 8% of a means with an endothermic motor to 50% of an electric vehicle.

Loccioni opens the doors to future engineers

One of the key components that in the future will allow the large-scale transition to the electric mobility is the electric axle. Loccioni has embraced this new adventure by developing Axenon, a test bench for e-axle technologies that perform the functional product test at line end, simulating the wheels’ behaviour in different scenarios and collecting data about quality, reliability and performances of each single e-axle. A preliminary assumption to frame a small part of the activity of Loccioni, which has recently hosted the students of the advanced course in Human Centric Engineering SITUM Alumni, who have been guided in a tour through the various work ambits and the current and future opportunities connected with the electrification process.
Important was the contribution by the University of L’ Aquila, which has joined the Polytechnic University of Marche and the University of Perugia in the development of SITUM, because it catches the attention on electrification and its future developments.
The visit in Loccioni laboratories has shown the concreteness of this transition to students. Besides injectors, common rails, pumps and endothermic motors, now inverters, batteries and electric motors must be tested. Even power modules, with SIC semiconductors, core of the electric motor, are the new components of electric vehicles. In addition to e-mobility, in Loccioni there is a lot on show in the front of smart buildings: all 6 laboratories are connected in a micro-grid, 100% electric, whose energy flows coming from renewables are managed by a smart system.