What are the key trends in electric motor solutions?

What are the key trends in electric motor solutions?

We know the global electric drive system market is set to grow at an exponential rate, as governments around the world bring in legislation and move to adopt more zero and low emission technologies. In line with this comes evolving motor designs that continue to provide more efficient, accurate and reliable solutions for consumers.  

Along with increasing sustainability initiatives, other factors that contribute to the growth of the electric drive system market include growing customer demand, rising research into electric powertrain components, and favorable regulatory policies.

Drive system trends

48V electric motors  
Some benefits here include the battery systems: 48V nominal voltage, with 60W maximum voltage. This is considered safe for adults, kids and pets. It provides easier handling, design and certification, among other things. Battery and battery management system (BMS) are available from many different suppliers and come in several variations.  

800V electric motors
These motors provide high voltages and are especially good for use in the automotive industry. The motors contain higher voltage, lower current, along with thinner cables which save weight therefore extending the mileage. They also have faster charging capabilities.  

Innovative, integrated cooling solutions

The overall performance of a drive system is limited mainly by the temperature of its components. When it heats up to certain temperature, performance becomes limited. The more efficiently all the components are cooled, performance is improved over longer periods of time. There are highly sophisticated solutions already on the market and in use today.  

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Motor trends and innovations

Axial Flux layout

Due to the design geometry of the motor's active components, axial flux motors can achieve higher torque density than radial flux motors. Although in low volume production, axial flux motors are currently available for wind turbines and motor sport applications. The first mass production attempts are available for HVAC, pumps, etc., however as manufacturing is still more costly, you do need a good reason to use this topology.  

Read more about axial flux motors here>>

Multi-strain winding

Low voltage requires higher currents. Higher currents will require thicker wire on the coils, however the bigger the diameter the harder it is to wind it around the coil. The winding can only go so far until it becomes impossible to wind any further. Alternatively, several strains (wires) can be wound in parallel to achieve a 'virtual' bigger diameter. Winding machines are available and becoming more popular, although they are more complex.  

Fewer or no rare earth materials

Rare earth materials used in motor production are expensive and volatile, particularly since the start of the global pandemic. What's more, the sourcing and production of these materials is said to be happening under questionable conditions, both for people and the environment. There are many rare earth elements used, with Neodymium being the most popular for magnet production. Magnets can also be made from ferrite oxide - or rust. Although much less powerful than Neodymium, ferrite is not a rare earth material, but a much cheaper, steadily available raw material. More sustainable and cost-effective materials are being developed and researchers are constantly looking for alternatives for magnet production.  

No permanent magnets in motors

Some motor designs do not use permanent magnets. Instead, they use electric circuits or cages on rotors and stators. The advantages are cost-effectiveness, sustainability and no volatile markets for commodities. However, the downsides can include less efficiency, more complex controls, design and assembly (design and assembly can be easier, however the trade-off will come with lower efficiency).  

Casted and 3D printed coils and other parts

The fill grade of coils is important, as air is a waste of space. It is possible to use square wire for this reason, however casted copper coils are far more accurate and constant. 3D printing allows new shapes of components and mixes of materials.

SMC Soft Magnetic Composite materials

A kind of sintered material, which is not resin, not metal, but a combination of the two. Using this material provides motor designers with new opportunities and more design freedom.  

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Drive controller and software trends

High performance semiconductor material, allowing for more power, higher voltage, higher temperatures and faster switching.

Another high-performance semiconductor material. Slightly less voltage resistant, but even faster switching times.

IoT/data collection/OTA

Domestic and industrial applications get more and more connected. Internet-of-Everything and Industry 4.0/ 5.0 are now common terms. The challenge here is to find the value of connectedness - being able to flush a toilet from a smartphone may not improve people's lives in the first place.

Cloud AI/ML

Data collected is stored in a cloud - a server somewhere with a database. The amount of data can (and should) be huge. AI and ML algorithms crawl through the data, finding patterns and insights that humans would not find. This enables the differentiating evolvement of products, by using real user insights and looking at it from a 'neutral' standpoint.

UI and integration

Examples of User Interfaces (UI) are displays, touch panels and displays, knobs, voice commands (microphone), gesture controls (camera or motion sensors), remote, smartphone and computer apps and more. Trends are seeing UI's delivering more information to the user and giving more control on the application. Sensors are coming into play more and more - for example, the sensors in recent smartphone models.


Rob Keating

Rob is a content creator and copywriter for Fisher & Paykel Technologies. His work includes the Knowledge Hub, email, website and social media copy, along with customer communications.
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drive system motor, Motor drive system, Smart integrated drive systems, electric motor solutions, electric motor applications
October 10, 2022
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