California prohibits state purchase of ICE sedans, effective now; to stop buying from GM, Toyota, FCA and others over emissions fight
Bridgestone to push for wide commercialization of new High Strength Rubber polymer, now named SUSYM

Fraunhofer researchers develop technique to produce aluminum windings for motors

Researchers at Fraunhofer IFAM have developed a casting technique that can be used to produce lightweight aluminum windings with a higher groove fill factor to replace copper windings in electric motors. In one study, they found that the aluminum coils increase the continuous output of the electrical machines compared to the copper windings, reduce the operating temperature and at the same time save weight and raw material costs.

After having already successfully made aluminum coils in precision casting in recent years, it was an obvious goal for the department Foundry Technology and Lightweight Construction at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Applied Materials IFAM also to produce the coils for series production in die casting.

Cast coils are characterized by a flat conductor arrangement, which leads to a higher slot fill factor and thus to a better utilization of the available installation space.

Druckgegossene-aluminiumspule-fraunhofer-ifam

Die-cast aluminum coil with seven turns and a conductor height of approx. 1.5 millimeters. © Fraunhofer IFAM

Although the cast aluminum coils have a higher electrical resistance relative to the wound copper coils, the larger cross-section results in less resistance with respect to the entire coil.

Due to the better connection to the laminated core and more favorable utilization of the installation space results in a much better thermal and electromagnetic behavior. For this reason, it is possible to replace wound copper coils with cast aluminum coils for improved performance and lower material costs.

To show this in a direct comparison, the Fraunhofer team used 250W commercial pedelec motors. Rebuilt engines with different laminated cores and coil combinations were tested on a bench.

Ifam

Coil arrangement within a pedelec engine with copper coils (left) and an identical motor with cast aluminum coils (right). © Fraunhofer IFAM


Among the results with the aluminum windings:

  • The groove fill factor could be increased from 32 to 60%.

  • At the same time, there was a weight saving of 10%.

  • Torque increased by 30%.

  • Due to the better thermal behavior of the coils, the continuous power at operating temperature increased by almost 20%.

The aluminum coil can deliver the resulting heat better to the laminated core and thus to the environment. This results in an improved continuous performance, since the coils only reach the permissible continuous operating temperature at higher currents.

Even more advantageous were the measurement results for a laminated core optimized on the cast coils in another modified pedelec motor. At lower weight, the torque increased by almost 80% and the continuous power by 25% compared to the original engine. Design changes can further increase the performance of aluminum coil motors.

Comments

yoatmon

I know that copper is more expensive and heavier than aluminum but principally those coils could be cast in copper as well. That would lower the resistance of the coils and achieve the same advantages of optimizing available space and increase the efficiency even more so.

Engineer-Poet

Square wire is already in use in some motors, precisely to improve the packing factor.  It's been the subject of previous GCC posts.

Roger Brown

If you go to the Fraunhofer IFAM web site (https://www.ifam.fraunhofer.de/content/dam/ifam/en/documents/Shaping_Functional_Materials/casting_technology/castings-for-electric-drives-fraunhofer-ifam.pdf) it is clear that they already have developed a process for casting copper coils. Presumably these coils have higher performance than the aluminum ones, but there may be economic reasons for preferring the aluminum variety.

Engineer-Poet

Does cast metal have lower resistance than drawn or rolled metal?  I know the grain structures can be radically different and in rolled metal it is anisotropic.

yoatmon

"Does cast metal have lower resistance than drawn or rolled metal?"
Not that I know of. The only deviation I know applies to HF waveguides. At high frequencies the "skin effect" occurs; the electron density moves towards the surface of the conductor. That is why waveguides are hollow akin to piping.

SJC

The Remy design used square wire with "hairpin" welding.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)