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Fewer Rare Earth Metals Could Make Electric Motors Cheaper


Samarium Cobalt Rare Earth MagnetsThe two main components of a hybrid or electric vehicle, the rechargeable battery and the electric motor, are also the most expensive. Part of the reason for the expense is, in order to make the motor as small and powerful as possible, rare earth metals are used in the process.

Stronger magnets can be made smaller, reducing the size and weight of the electric motor, a critical data point in making a fuel efficient vehicle. Because elements such as praseodymium, neodymium, and dysprosium, all used in magnets, are rarely to be found in an easily exploitable vein, the use of such materials drives the price up considerably.

In the early 1800’s, a crude form of switched reluctance electric motor [SRM] was being developed, but really couldn’t take off because of noise and toque variations.

Now, 200-odd years later, US electric vehicle manufacturer HEVT, has taken up the development of the SRM, aiming to fix the problems that killed it before. New software and electronics could make the SRM more viable, without the use of rare earth magnets.

If HEVT can perfect the switched reluctance motor, it could pave the way for smaller electric motors used in hybrid and electric vehicles. The new SRMs would be lighter, just as powerful, and cheaper to produce. “HEVT’s game-changing motor technologies leverage smart software with optimally designed hardware to empower the next generation of electric motors,” said HEVT’s CEO Heidi Lubin.

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