When James Widmer took up his PhD at Newcastle University, he could never have known that less than ten years later he would have developed a technology with the potential to save the world. However, that’s how AEM’s unique, highly sustainable EV motor technology got its start, and how the now Prof Widmer came to be AEM’s founder and CEO.
In developing this technology, James – and in time a team of AEM engineers – knew that a truly sustainable EV motor had to make improvements to existing technology in several areas. Not only did it have to clean up the EV motor supply chain and be easily recycled, it also needed to be more efficient and better performing in the vehicle. In short, it needed to be faster, travel further and be greener than the internal combustion engine technology it was replacing.
An entirely new technology, AEM’s motor does away with rare earth magnets and copper, which is crucial when it comes to addressing all three of the criteria it needs to meet.
By not using magnets in the motor’s rotor, for example, AEM is able to let the motor spin faster as it does not lose performance at the higher temperatures this generates. Unlike traditional motors, it is also able to ‘coast’, meaning that it uses less power when the vehicle is maintaining a steady speed or decelerating. These are both characteristics that allow for a more efficient motor.
Meanwhile, its green credentials are clear. By not using rare earth magnets, AEM is not relying on a problematic and volatile supply chain. (You can find out just how damaging rare earth mining can be to the environment by reading our previous blog, COP26: Creating a sustainable passenger car solution).
By removing copper from the motor’s stator and replacing it with aluminium, AEM is also making the motor easier to recycle at end of life. Rather than copper needing to be removed by hand before the casing is recycled, the whole AEM motor can be smelted as scrap, with the steel and aluminium separating naturally.
For ideas from some of the automotive and engineering sectors’ brightest minds, be sure to join us for N.EAST at 15:00 on 10 November at COP26 in Glasgow or virtually via COP26’s YouTube live channel.