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Scientists Successfully Test Traction Motor for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles

Engineers at GE Global Research recently tested a prototype Interior Permanent Magnet traction motor that they believe could help extend the range of electric vehicles and hybrids before recharging or needing fuel.

Traction motors are the key ingredient in hybrid and electric vehicles, converting electrical energy into motion. The new GE-designed traction motor is not only cheaper to build, but in lab tests it was found to also be more powerful and more efficient than anything on the market today.

GE’s new motor can run at a higher temperature than a conventional traction motor, but without the need for extra cooling lines. A conventional traction motor will run at approximately 65ºC but require a dedicated cooling loop to keep it running. GE’s latest development has created a model that will run continuously at 105ºC over a wide speed range (2,800 – 14,000 rpm at 30 kW) and cooled using engine coolant.

Without the need for dedicated cooling lines, cars carrying this new motor will be lighter and cost less.

GE prototype of a Traction Motor for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles

GE’s prototype traction motor operates at a peak power level of 55kW and exceeds state-of-the-art motors in the same class in several key areas:

  • Nearly twice the power density (acceleration)
  • 3-5% more efficient
  • Required torque achieved using much lower DC bus voltage – as low as 200 volts versus 650 volts
  • Operates continuously at a higher temperature; no need for dedicated cooling loop

“This is a significant accomplishment. We at GE are pushing the boundaries to build more robust, yet more efficient motors for hybrid and fully electric platforms,” said Ayman El-Refaie, Electrical Engineer, in GE Global Research’s Electrical Machines Lab. “We have built a motor that is substantially more powerful than what’s commercially available now, all while improving efficiency by up to 5%.”

GE has already built several prototypes that have been fully lab tested and demonstrated for the Department of Energy.

“This technology is scalable and flexible enough that it can be leveraged in a number of capacities,” said El-Refaie. “What we learned through this project will help us build higher efficiency industrial motors, high-speed oil and gas compressor motors, and generators for aerospace applications.”

Source: GE Motors

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