Engineered Design Breakthrough: Magnet-Free Electric Motor May Reduce Maintenance in Electric Cars

German automotive parts manufacturer MAHLE designed and engineered a breakthrough high-efficiency, magnet-free electric motor that could achieve levels of efficiency currently only seen in Formula E cars.[1]

Scalable Technology and Reduced Maintenance

Thanks to this innovative engineered design, we could soon be looking at the age of reduced maintenance and improved efficiency in the world of electric vehicle motors, and since this is a scalable technology, it will be functional in a wide range of vehicles from sub-compact to commercial.

The new advancement in EV technology means that MAHLE’s new engine could reduce internal friction and can therefore dramatically increase the life of the motor. The entire motor is also free of rare-earth elements such as neodymium-boron-iron, samarium-cobalt, and more that are often found at the very heart of EV motors.[2]

This not only means that these motors are environmentally friendly in terms of production, but that they also provide cost and resource security benefits to manufacturers who no longer need to source expensive metals for their EV motors.

“With our new electric motor, we’re living up to our responsibility as a sustainably operating company,” says Michael Frick, Chairman of the MAHLE Management Board and CFO. “Dispensing with magnets and therefore the use of rare earth elements offers great potential not only from a geopolitical perspective but also with regard to the responsible use of nature and resources.”[3]

Innovative Engineering Solves Rare-Earth Metal Dependency?

This is an important step as many of the world’s largest car manufacturers continue to move away from fossil fuels and toward sustainable energy options like electric vehicles. Electric vehicles have long been criticized for their non-sustainable use of rare-earth metals, and this could be the next big step toward a truly sustainable option. The problem of EV motor magnets is then worsened by the fact that over 90% of rare earth elements, such as the metals used in EV motors, are produced by China, a powerful automotive competitor.[4]

Moving away from the magnets found in EV motors will likely streamline the supply and production chain while reducing the impact that China’s near-monopoly has on this part of the industry.

 

Mahle breaks through in Engineered Design with its magnet-free and maintenance free electric motor.
Mahle breaks through in Engineered Design with its magnet-free and maintenance free electric motor.

 

Contactless Motor Reduces Industrial Components, Notably Magnets

The contactless motor developed by MAHLE replaces the standard magnets with contactless induction power transmission. The powered coils within the engine transfer electricity to the rotor using contactless induction that is continually pushed along by a magnetic field, creating an effective technique for generating torque. The biggest selling point is that the new MAHLE motor can take care of all transmission of electrical current between moving and stationary parts without contact and therefore without friction and wear.

This also results in reduced maintenance since parts will not need to be changed as often, less dust will be able to accumulate inside of the motor due to its design, and less abrasion along with less mechanical wear will help ensure a long life for each engine which is a huge part of sustainability.

95 Percent Efficiency at Various Operating Speeds

What makes this design truly efficient, however, is that it provides the opportunity to tune parameters relating to the rotor’s magnetism instead of being stuck with what a specific magnet can provide. This means that with additional tuning, MAHLE contactless EV motors can reach over 95% efficiency in a variety of operating speeds. This efficiency can be seen at high speeds as well, and may very well add a few additional miles to each charge for a more efficient transport option.

References

[1] MAHLE press release, MAHLE develops highly efficient magnet-free electric motor, May 5, 2021>>

[2] Newatlas, Mahle’s cheap, highly efficient new EV motor uses no magnets, May 12, 2021>>

[3] MAHLE press release, MAHLE develops highly efficient magnet-free electric motor, May 5, 2021>>

[4] TechXplore, Mahle developing magnet-free electric motor that does not require rare earth elements, May 18, 2021>>

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