UQM Technologies, Inc. announced that it has made a significant breakthrough in the development of non-rare-earth magnet electric motor design.
The Colorado-based company said it has developed an electromagnetic design as efficient as regular electric motors, but without the use of rare-earth magnets.
“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 chief executive officer of UQM Technologies, Inc. “This is great progress toward our objective of identifying magnet materials and technology that can deliver the performance our customers expect while limiting our exposure to price and supply concerns associated with rare-earth magnets.”
UQM said this work on non-rare-earth magnet motors is funded through a $4 million award received as part of a U.S. Energy Department Advanced Research and Development Grant. Under the agreement, UQM is cost-sharing 25 percent 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.
“The key to using non-rare-earth magnets in electric motors for vehicles is our patent-pending motor geometry, which in part defines the shape and magnetization direction of the permanent magnets,” said Jon Lutz, UQM Technologies’ vice president of engineering. “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.”
For UQM, the next phase under the DOE grant is the mechanical design of the motor. Work on this is now underway at UQM to produce a concept-unit build in the next calendar year.