10.11.2021
  • Soft magnetic composites
  • Automotive & Transportation

The evolution of sustainable mobility

Electric vehicles (EVs) are rapidly growing in terms of sales, production, and popularity, and it’s easy to see why. They are a more environmentally friendly way of travelling and are becoming more viable as the number of charging points increases and the range of travel grows. However, many challenges remain. Challenges that new technology and a number of alternative e-motor types may be able to help overcome.

Most electric vehicles today are based on radial flux motors, and the efficiency and power that can be produced from today’s technology is truly impressive. In addition, further development steps are constantly being designed to enhance performance. Axial flux motors, however, are also growing in popularity as engineers are exploring their vast potential. If they are utilised in the right way, these e-motors could contribute to solving some of the remaining challenges in electrification of the automotive industry, and could even impact other modes of transport.

High performance, low weight

Axial flux motors work on the basis that the magnetic flux created is parallel to the axis of rotation, as opposed to the perpendicular nature of the radial alternatives. This means it’s possible to design them to be more compact while still maintaining the same levels of performance. In fact, due to the improved power density, axial flux motors can actually produce up to 40% more torque than radial motors of a similar size. Increased torque is also possible as the whole diameter of the motor can be used, resulting in larger torque levers from the same physical footprint.

The smaller footprint and increased power density also lead to another significant advantage – reduced weight. Lighter weights can help improve overall efficiency as the heavier a vehicle is, the more energy is needed to move it. Reducing weight can also have a positive impact on the driver experience as the car can feel more responsive.

Up until now the use of axial flux motors in EVs has been relatively limited, but as we see more manufacturers developing these solutions, and more brands investing in the technology, it could represent a major step forward in the years to come. With the above benefits, and many more yet to be fully uncovered, axial flux motors could lead to major positive developments for the electric vehicle industry. Car manufacturers are already investing significantly in the technology, too, with Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault all exploring the possibilities.

More than cars

When people think of EVs, they’re usually picturing an electric car. Axial flux motors are also ideal for motorcycles, especially due to the shapes and sizes possible, but from an end-user perspective it’s just the same as making the change from combustion-engine-powered cars to electric cars. However, there are many more applications for these high-performance motors.

The technology is fully scalable, so bigger vehicles can be powered by bigger motors. This theory can extend all the way to aircraft, thus offering the potential to reduce the emissions of an industry which has long been searching for more renewable ways to power flights.

This potential application is hugely exciting, as the lightweight but efficient electric motors could be used to power smaller aircraft and even drones, which means automated air travel could also be sustainable, all driven by batteries, hydrogen or hybrid energy sources.

Components are key

The core technology of axial flux motors makes them suitable for mobility applications, and now with advances in soft magnetic composite (SMC) metal powders, they have become even more viable, and the natural next step for EVs. Somaloy®, the best-in-class SMC metal powder from Höganäs, offers the 3D magnetic properties and net shaping capabilities necessary to facilitate the production of next-generation of e-motors including axial flux motors and components.

The powder is specifically designed for high-volume production too, which promotes more widespread use of these electric drive systems in a cost-efficient way. As the axial flux motor grows in popularity and performance, EVs will be able to develop and evolve in a number of different directions, with more options than ever for the end user. This could lead to another positive shift towards electrification and, in turn, could lead to a more sustainable future.

 

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Höganäs

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