A new prototype electric vehicle that avoids the use of expensive rare earth elements has been built by Ricardo.
The new motor – which provides performance at significantly reduced cost – is the fruit of a collaborative research and development project, RapidSR (Rapid Design and Development of a Switched Reluctance Traction Motor). Ricardo’s partners in this research include project leader Cobham Technical Services and Jaguar Land Rover.
The project, launched in 2012, is co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. An innovative design, the 85kW synchronous reluctance electric machine uses low-cost materials, simple manufacturing processes and uncomplicated construction. Its rotor is made from cut steel laminations, which are used to direct and focus the flux across the air gap, thus maximising the flux linkage between the stator and rotor and enabling performance to be optimized within a tightly packaged, low-weight design that is entirely free of rare earth elements.
The prototype is now undergoing testing to validate thepositive results that it has shown in simulation. “As the market for electric vehicles grows globally, there is an imperative to explore alternatives to permanent magnet traction motors which require the use of expensive and increasingly difficult to source rare earth elements,” explained Paul Rivera, MD of the Ricardo hybrid and electric vehicle systems business. “This Ricardo prototype demonstrates what can be achieved by using the latest electric machine design processes in the creation of a high performing, compact, lightweight, and rare earth element free concept.”