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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

Tohoku U team produces rare-earth-free high quality Fe-Ni magnet with simple industrial technology

November 22, 2015

Researchers from Tohoku University in Japan have succeeded in producing a completely rare-earth free high-quality Fe-Ni magnet. The team, led by Professor Akihiro Makino as principal investigator is supported by a MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan) project entitled, “Ultra-low Core Loss Magnetic Material Technology Area,” under the framework of the “Tohoku Innovative Materials Technology Initiatives for Reconstruction.”

Currently high quality magnets, which are used in various applications such as automobiles, household appliances, medical equipment etc. are made up of rare earth elements such as Sm (samarium), Nd (neodymium) and Dy (dysprosium). Importing rare earth elements is costly, and has become “too political,” the researchers said, making it increasingly difficult for Japan to maintain industrial superiority and competitiveness in the production of energy-saving technologies for next generation of electrical machines/devices.

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UQM Technologies in 10-year electric propulsion systems agreement with ITL in China; 3K units ordered; potential for >$400M in revenue

October 27, 2015

UQM Technologies Inc. has signed a 10-year supply agreement with ITL Efficiency Corporation in China, a subsidiary of Eastlake New Energy, to provide electric propulsion systems for three market segments: 6-8 meter shuttle buses; light- to medium-duty delivery trucks; and 10-12 meter transit buses. Over the term of the Agreement, revenues could exceed $400 million based on projected volume shipments.

Production is expected to begin in early 2017 following development, test and certification programs during 2016; timing will be dependent on the successful completion of the test and certification processes, followed by orders under the Agreement. UQM has received the first purchase order under the Agreement for the initial 3,000 units which are expected to ship in 2017.

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GM and LG expand their relationship on Bolt EV; 12 components, including PEEM

October 20, 2015

GM and LG announced an expanded and deepened relationship around the coming Bolt battery-electric vehicle (earlier post), with LG providing not only the battery pack and battery heater, but also the critical PEEM (power electronics and electric machine) components; the HVAC electronic climate control system compressor; telematics hardware for OnStar; and the instrument cluster and infotainment system displays.

In a media briefing, Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president – global product development, purchasing and supply chain, observed that the expanded strategic partnership with LG marked a significant new approach to the adversarial automaker-supplier relationships of the past. Further, he noted, such a new type of relationship would be essential for electric vehicles. “The Bolt EV will be the result of an entirely different PEM/supplier relationship.

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Toyota details powertrain advances in Gen4 Prius; available E-Four system for all-wheel drive (not for US)

October 13, 2015

Toyota made significant improvements in its new generation full hybrid powertrain applied in the fourth generation Prius (earlier post), reducing losses, redesigning and relocating key components and reducing weight. Extensive changes to the transaxle, engine and combined hybrid system, generate an expected improvement in EPA estimated MPG on core models of up to 10% (i.e., up to ~55 mpg US combined), with an Eco model that will achieve an even greater improvement.

In a presentation outlining the changes to the new Prius system, Shunsuke Fushiki from Toyota’s Hybrid Engineering Management Division noted that the new engine contribues about 28% of the improvement in fuel efficiency; hybrid system management contributes about 26%; the new electric motor, 16%; new transaxle and PCU, 13% each; and new battery packs, 4%.

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WPI team develops process to recover rare earth elements from discarded motors of electric and hybrid vehicles

October 01, 2015

In an effort to help develop a sustainable domestic supply of rare earth elements and lessen US dependence on China for materials that are vital to the production of electronics, wind turbines, and many other technologies, two researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) have developed a method of extracting rare earths from the drive units and motors of discarded electric and hybrid cars.

The process offers a recovery rate of more than 80%. While heat treatment is required for processing, all other steps can be performed at room temperature, thus resulting in a process designed for energy efficiency. Overall, the established process applies green chemistry principles for designing a hydrometallurgical process.

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Audi’s e-tron quattro EV: evolutionary powertrain with a dash of revolution for production in 2018; MLB evo

September 24, 2015

Audi’s e-tron quattro battery-electric SUV concept, which made its formal debut at IAA in Frankfurt (earlier post), is a strong indicator of Audi’s series-production electric SUV due in 2018—especially in terms of the powertrain.

The e-tron quattro is based on Audi’s MLB evo—the second-generation of the modular longitudinal matrix toolkit (MLB, earlier post), and is, at the same time, potentially contributing to the development of the elements of that toolkit, especially with respect to a modular electric drive component. This could eventually have a role comparable to that of the Volkswagen Group’s modular diesel and modular gasoline engine kits (MDB and MOB). (“Baukasten” = German for construction kit)

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Evolute Drives test results show 18% reduction in energy consumption with 3-speed MSYS EV transmission compared to single speed

August 20, 2015

Evolute Drives, incorporated as a separate entity by its sister company Drive System Design (DSD) (earlier post), will present practical test results for its high efficiency 3-speed MSYS electric vehicle transmission (earlier post) at the upcoming CTI Symposium in Shanghai (16-18 Sept).

In independent tests, a B-class demonstrator vehicle fitted with the transmission achieved a reduction in energy consumption of up to 18% over the NEDC test cycle, compared to the single-speed base vehicle.

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DOE Critical Materials Institute rare-earth recycling invention licensed to US Rare Earths

August 11, 2015

A new technology developed by the US Department of Energy’s Critical Materials Institute (CMI) that aids in the recycling, recovery and extraction of rare earth minerals has been licensed to US Rare Earths, Inc. The membrane solvent extraction system, invented by CMI partners Oak Ridge and Idaho national laboratories, is the first commercially licensed technology developed through the CMI.

The technology uses a combination of hollow fiber membranes, organic solvents and neutral extractants selectively to recover rare-earth elements such as neodymium, dysprosium and praseodymium. These elements have a key function in permanent magnets used in cars, cell phones, hard disk drives, computers and electric motors.

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BRUSA offering new high-efficiency motor/gearbox combination for electric commercial vehicles

July 27, 2015

BRUSA Elektronik AG is offering its Planetary Traction Drive DTSP1—a fully integrated electric vehicle drivetrain combining motor and gearbox—with its higher power HSM1-10.18.22 Hybrid Synchronous Motor, offering 220 kW (295 hp) maximum power (145 kW/194 hp continuous) and up to 460 N·m (339 b-ft) peak torque (270 N·m/199 lb-ft continuous). With this configuration, BRUSA is targeting light commercial vehicles, vans or sports cars.

The compact design of the transmission in combination with the powerful motor results in a highly efficient power set. The DTSP1 unit can be used as an axle or four-wheel drivetrain set. By using the differential on the axles, powerful yet weight-optimized drives can be realized. With the adjustment of the axle differential every application can be achieved with the right ratio.

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DLR and Wuppertal publish comprehensive global analysis of e-mobility technologies, outlook and lifecycle assessments

July 23, 2015

The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) and the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy (Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie GmbH; WI) have published results of their STROMbegleitung (electricity evaluation) comprehensive study to analyze technologies; market outlook; policy support; infrastructure; and life-cycle assessments for electrically-powered transport.

The study, which ran from October 2011 – September 2014, comprehensively charts current progress in technology; identifies trends; analyzes lifecycle assessments for a variety of vehicle concepts; and assess material intensities. At the same time, it places German activities in the field of electromobility within an international context. The research program received a €1.7 million euro grant from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung; BMBF) as part of the STROM support program (key technologies for electromobility).

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DOE to award $20M to projects to recover rare earth elements from coal and coal byproducts

June 29, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a funding opportunity (DE-FOA-0001202) that will award an estimated $20 million to projects quickly to develop bench scale and pilot scale projects for recovering Rare Earth Elements (REE)—a set of seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table and key components of electronics and renewable energy technologies—from coal and coal byproducts.

The DOE has begun investigating the economic feasibility of recovery of REEs from domestic United States coal and coal byproducts. n FY14, DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) conducted a preliminary, short-term, baseline field evaluation of coal and coal by-products as potential domestic resources of REEs. NETL has characterized a number of REE-bearing samples of coal and coal related materials, and posted the associated results and reports here.

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Toho Tenax’s prepreg helps to cut 1.1MW Tajima Rimac electric racer’s weight

June 22, 2015

Teijin Limited announced that carbon fiber sheet pre-impregnated with matrix resin, or prepreg, made by Toho Tenax Co., Ltd., the core company of the Teijin Group’s carbon fibers and composites business, is used in the lightweight body of a new 1.1 MW electric racecar operated by Team APEV with Monster Sport. The Tajima Rimac E-Runner Concept_One—driven by Tajima CEO Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima—will race in the Electric Modified Division in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb from June 22 to 28.

The racer, developed by Rimac Automobili in collaboration with Monster Sport and Team APEV, is based on an aluminum space frame covered with the carbon fiber composite body panels. A 57 kWh Rimac battery pack powers four Rimac permanent magnet synchronous motors, delivering combined maximum output of 1,100 kW (1,475 hp) and 1,500 N·m (1,106 lb-ft) of torque.

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A closer look at Audi’s new R8 e-tron EV and battery

June 12, 2015

The model line-up of the second generation of Audi’s high-performance R8 sports car, unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, includes the new R8 e-tron battery-electric vehicle. (Earlier post.) The new R8 e-tron delivers 340 kW (456 hp) of power; acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (62.1 mph) in 3.9 seconds; and a driving range of up to 450 km (279.6 mi). Range for the first generation R8 e-tron was was 215 km (133.6 mi).

Available for order this year upon customer request, the new R8 e-tron uses a newly developed high energy density Li-ion technology optimized for a purely electric vehicle drive. Li-ion cell energy density was increased from 84 to 152 Wh/kg; in comparison to the first technology platform, the battery capacity has grown from 48.6 kWh to 90.2 kWh—without changing the package.

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First 18-meter electric bus in China powered by TM4 SUMO HD powertrain with external rotor motor technology

May 07, 2015

China’s first 18-meter battery electric bus has been put into service in Beijing. The Foton AUV 18-meter Harmony City BJ6180 is powered by a TM4 SUMO HD electric powertrain with a maximum torque of 3,500 N·m (2,581 lb-ft), 1600 N·m (1,180 lb-ft) continuous.

The SUMO HD is designed to interface with standard rear differentials without the need for an intermediate gearbox. Its direct drive / gearless approach makes it a good match for high-duty platform and commercial vehicle applications. The system features TM4’s external rotor motor technology (in which the rotor rotates on the outside of the stator). The external rotor motor technology delivers higher power density, high torque density, and increased long-term reliability than a similar motor with an internal rotor, according to TM4.

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Ames Lab team replaces Dysprosium in permanent magnets with Cerium for lower-cost, high performance solution

April 24, 2015

Researchers led by a team at the US Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory have created a new lower-cost magnetic alloy that is an alternative to conventional NdFeB-based permanent magnets. The new alloy—a potential replacement for high-performance permanent magnets found in EV motors and wind turbines—replaces dysprosium (Dy), one of the scarcest and costliest rare earth elements.

The new alloy of neodymium, iron and boron co-doped with cerium and cobalt is a less expensive material with properties that are competitive with traditional sintered magnets containing dysprosium. As reported in a paper in the journal Advanced Materials, the Ce, Co co-doped alloys have excellent high-temperature magnetic properties with an intrinsic coercivity being the highest known for T ≥ 453 K (180 ˚C).

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GM provides technical details of the Gen 2 Voltec propulsion system used in the 2016 Volt

April 23, 2015

The second-generation “Voltec” extended range electric powertrain applied in the MY2016 Chevy Volt (earlier post) marks a significant evolution in the electric drive technology platform from its first-generation origins. After proving a initial look at the design and capability of the different components (earlier post) late last year, GM is now providing deeper technical insight into the second-generation platform.

At the SAE 2015 World Congress in Detroit this week, GM engineers are presenting four papers on the technology of the Gen 2 Voltec propulsion system: an overview of the system and the realized improvements in efficiency and performance; a paper on the significantly re-engineered traction power inverter module (TPIM); a paper on the design and performance of the new electric motors used in the propulsion system; and a paper on the selection and design of the optimized gasoline-fueled 1.5-liter range extender engine.

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New ABB Azipod D for electric marine propulsion requires 25% less installed power, boosts flexibility

March 25, 2015

Azipod D. Click to enlarge.

ABB has introduced a new offering, Azipod D, to its line of Azipod marine electric propulsion systems. This new product will allow a wider range of vessel types to benefit from the proven reliability and flexibility that have made Azipod the leading propulsion system across numerous ship types.

Azipod Propulsion is a gearless steerable propulsion system in which the electric drive motor is in a submerged pod outside the ship hull. A ship with Azipod Propulsion does not need rudders, long shaftlines or stern transversal thrusters. This new Azipod D provides designers and ship builders with increased design flexibility in order to accommodate a wide range of hull shapes and propeller sizes, as well as simplicity of installation. The Azipod D requires up to 25% less installed power. This is partly due to the fact that the new hybrid (air and water) cooling helps reduce the thruster’s weight and directs more power toward propulsion of the ship, not cooling requirements. The performance of the electric motor is increased by up to 45%.

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DOE to award up to $20M to advance high-speed industrial motors and drives

March 20, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $20 million to spur the development of high-speed industrial motors and drives, using high power-density designs and integrated power electronics to increase efficiency. Individual awards may vary between $3 million and $5 million, not including the recipient cost share.

The Energy Department plans to select four to six projects, through the Next Generation Electric Machines: Megawatt Class Motors funding opportunity (DE‐FOA‐0001208), that demonstrate the benefits of using wide bandgap (WBG) variable-speed drives. These projects are expected to target a 30% reduction in system losses and a 50% reduction in size for megawatt-scale motor and drive systems used in the chemical and petroleum refining industries; natural gas infrastructure; and general industry compressor applications such as HVAC systems, refrigeration, and wastewater pumps.

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Renault boosts ZOE EV’s range by almost 15% to 149 miles with new motor unit

March 04, 2015

The new R240 motor unit with integrated PEC. Click to enlarge.

Renault has extended the range of its battery-electric ZOE to 149 miles (240 kilometers)—a boost of 19 miles (31 km), or 14.6%—in the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) by using a new lighter and more compact R240 electric motor and an optimized electronic management system. (Earlier post.)

The R240 is a synchronous electric motor with rotor coil, with a power output of 65 kW and torque of 220 N·m (162 lb-ft). It also features a built-in Chameleon charger (earlier post) which allows faster charging at home (3 kW and 11 kW). The R240 is an all-Renault motor, designed by Renault engineers at the Technocentre R&D facility outside Paris and at the Cléon plant where the motor is made—close to Flins, where the ZOE is produced.

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TM4 receiving $3.7M to develop low-cost wheel motors

February 28, 2015

TM4, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hydro-Québec, is receiving $3.7 million in funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s (SDTC) SD Tech Fund, through the ecoENERGY Innovation Initiative, to develop low-cost wheel motors for electric and hybrid vehicles.

The objective of this project is to design an in-wheel motor electric drive system with one of the highest power densities in the world, and at the lowest possible cost. This system will consist of one or more power converters and electric machines, to be assembled and bench tested, and then tested on the road in an electric vehicle.

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Ricardo develops prototype next-generation 85 kW switched reluctance EV motor; no rare earth elements

February 23, 2015

Ricardo RapidSR electric motor
The Ricardo RapidSR switched reluctance drive motor avoids the use of rare earth elements. Click to enlarge.

Ricardo has developed a new prototype 85 kW synchronous reluctance motor designed primarily for electric vehicle traction applications. The motor avoids the use of expensive rare earth elements, while delivering strong performance at a significantly reduced cost.

The new EV motor was designed and built in prototype form by Ricardo as part of a collaborative research and development project, RapidSR (Rapid Design and Development of a Switched Reluctance Traction Motor). (Earlier post.) Using a conventional distributed stator winding, the Ricardo synchronous reluctance electric machine is an innovative design that makes use of low-cost materials, simple manufacturing processes and uncomplicated construction.

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Porsche names GKN Driveline “Technology Partner” for eAxle system in 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid supercar

February 12, 2015

Porsche has awarded GKN Driveline “Technology Partner” status for its development of the high-performance eAxle for the 918 Spyder, an advanced plug-in hybrid supercar. (Earlier post.) GKN Driveline’s eAxle module—used for the 918 Spyder’s front axle—supports full-electric mode, all-wheel drive and provides a boost function.

The eAxle that supplements the 918 Spyder’s hybridized 4.6-liter V8 is an evolution of the company’s innovative eAxle drive. (Earlier post.) The module has maximum power of 95 kW and can deliver up to 1500 N·m (1,106 lb-ft) of torque to the front wheels via a fixed gear ratio. A specially developed compact differential engages the torque seamlessly, giving the 918 Spyder optimum power distribution at all times. The differential also disengages the module to minimize drag losses and maximize efficiency. At speeds above 265 km/h (164 mph), a clutch isolates the electric motor to prevent it from over-spinning.

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ESKAM finishing electric drive axle module for commercial vehicles, new production technologies; vehicle testing this year

February 02, 2015

Electric drive axle module with two motors and integrated power electronics. Groschopp AG. Click to enlarge.

The ESKAM (Electric Scalable Axle Module, Elektrische SKalierbare AchsantriebsModule) consortium in Germany, sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), is completing the development of an optimized electric drive axle module for commercial vehicles, consisting of two motors, transmissions and power electronics. All components fit neatly and compactly into a shared housing, which is fitted in the vehicle using a special frame construction also developed by the project engineers.

The individual modules developed by the various partners are complete, as are new manufacturing techniques developed by the partners. The consortium is now putting the individual parts together to make a demonstrator. After that, they want to fit the axle module into a real vehicle for testing by the end of 2015.

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Study finds vertical force of in-wheel switched reluctance motors deteriorates vehicle stability and comfort

January 27, 2015

In a study investigating switched reluctance motors (SRMs) for in-wheel motor applications, researchers at Chongqing University in China have found that the vertical component of the residual unbalanced radial force of the motor deteriorates the lateral and anti-rollover stabilities of the vehicle in addition to having a considerable impact on vehicle comfort. (The unbalanced radial force is the radial force difference between a pair of opposite stator poles.)

In their paper, published in the Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part D: Journal of Automobile Engineering, they suggest that a control method addressing these issues will be needed if SRMs are to see use in in-wheel applications. In an earlier paper, members of the team had proposed the use of an FxLMS (filtered-X least mean square) controller based on active suspension system to generate controllable force to suppress the vibration caused by SRM vertical force. In that paper, they found that utilizing active suspensions could reduce the effect of SRM vertical force on suspension performance.

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UQM Technologies granted patent on permanent magnet electric motor design using non-rare earth magnets

January 20, 2015

UQM Technologies Inc. has been granted a US patent (8,928,198, “Brushless PM machine construction enabling low coercivity magnets”) for an electric and hybrid electric vehicle motor design using non-rare earth magnets. The patent covers the unique magnet geometry and the method of manufacturing the motor.

The majority of electric and hybrid electric vehicles produced today use permanent magnet (PM) motors with rare-earth magnet materials because of the high coercivity of the rare earth materials. Coercivity is a measure of the reverse field needed to drive magnetization to zero after being saturated—i.e., it is a measure of the resistance to demagnetization. The new UQM design enables the use of low coercivity magnets, such as Aluminum Nickel Cobalt (AlNiCo) or Iron Cobalt Tungsten (FeCoW), in PM machines.

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Renault previews new production-bound EV motor and dual-fuel gasoline/LPG engine

December 12, 2014

Renault’s new, more compact electric motor with integrated Power Electronic Controller. Click to enlarge.

Renault has previewed a new electric vehicle motor, designed by its engineers and manufactured at its Cléon plant in France, as well as a new dual-fuel gasoline/LPG combustion engine. Both are slated to enter production in 2015. Rémi Bastien, Renault’s Director of Innovation Engineering, noted that “The future of mobility calls for the same command of electric motor technology as it does of internal combustion engines. We are consequently active on every front, from internal combustion engines to electric motors and alternative energies.

New Renault electric motor. The synchronous electric motor with wound rotor develops 65 kW and peak torque of 220 N·m (162 lb-ft), and features an integrated Chameleon charger (earlier post). Integration, miniaturization and simplification were the three objectives that guided the design of this motor.

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