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AK Steel receives $1.8M from DOE to develop next-generation electrical steels for hybrid and electric vehicle motors

AK Steel has accepted an award of up to $1.8 million from the US Department of Energy (DOE) under the Advanced Manufacturing Office’s Next Generation Electric Machines (NGEM) program to develop the next generation of advanced, non-oriented electrical steels (NOES) for motors used in a wide variety of industrial and automotive applications, including hybrid and electric vehicles.

The three-year project will be conducted in collaboration with the DOE, Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Power Electronics and Electric Machinery Research Center, and Regal Beloit Corporation, a leading manufacturer of electric motors and motion control products.

Electrical steels are special steels optimized for specific magnetic properties, including a small hysteresis area for low power loss per cycle, low core loss and high permeability. The objective of the project is to develop an innovative motor design with high-alloy NOES that will achieve an efficiency improvement of more than 30% when compared to existing motor designs with current NOES products.

AK Steel’s grain-oriented electrical steels are iron-silicon (Fe-Si) alloys with superior magnetic properties in the rolling direction, and were developed to provide the low core loss and high permeability required for efficient and economical electrical transformers. The non-oriented electrical steels are iron-silicon alloys in which magnetic properties are practically the same in any direction in the plane of the material. Applications include large and small motors, large and small transformers, generators, lighting ballasts and ignition coils.

AK Steel invented electrical steels more than 100 years ago, and today remains one of the leading worldwide producers of this highly-specialized product. These steels include both NOES for electric generators and motors, as well as grain-oriented electrical steels for power and distribution transformers.

While DOE’s NGEM program targets a vast array of industrial motors, pumps, and generators, hybrid and electric vehicles (H/EVs) represent the fastest growing market for NOES. Many of the motors used in H/EVs being sold in the US today are imported from foreign suppliers, but a trend toward local sourcing and manufacturing is underway.

For the past several years, we have been working closely with several worldwide leaders in the development of hybrid electric vehicles. The reaction to prototype samples of our DI-MAX HF-10X NOES product has been outstanding, and we are currently providing these OEMs with additional material for qualification. The upcoming DOE NGEM project will build upon this strong foundation, allowing for the most efficient motor designs available in the world.

—Eric Petersen, Vice President Research and Innovation, AK Steel

DI-MAX HF-10X is a fully processed NOES designed for use in high-speed motors, traction motors, aircraft generators, and other rotating equipment operating at frequencies above 60 Hz.

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