Robert Sansone, an engineer who is only 17 years old, seems to have found a way to make electric vehicles be even more respectful of the environment. The high school student, who has been carrying out different engineering projects since childhood, has designed an electric motor that dispenses with the rare-earth magnets used for motors in these vehicles. These, in addition to being expensive, their extraction has environmental drawbacks.
Sansone assures the magazine Smithsonian that his interest in electric motors is “natural”, since he has used them for previous projects. But it wasn’t until he watched a video on the pros and cons of electric vehicles that he realized the manufacture of these components had an environmental impact. Mainly because, we reiterate, they use rare earth magnets. He set out to solve this sustainability problem, and began to inquire about possible alternatives. Among them, the use of synchronous reluctance motors.
The synchronous reluctance motors, although they are more respectful of the environment, they do not reach the necessary power to move an electric vehicle. Instead, they are used in lower power devices such as fans. The young man’s goal, therefore, was to make this engine even more powerful, and after a year of development, and after 15 attempts, he succeeded.
A more powerful, cheaper and more environmentally friendly synchronous reluctance electric motor
Wearing copper cables, a steel rotor and a body made of plastic and using a 3D printer, Sansone created a prototype electric motor that achieved a higher rotational force than conventional synchronous reluctance motors. His model was also more efficient than the rest.
After initial testing, Sansone decided to compare it to a traditional synchronous reluctance motor. He discovered that, at 300 revolutions per minute (RPM), his electric motor reached 39% higher rotational force (torque). Also that it was 31% more efficient.
At higher revolutions, specifically at 750 RPM, the rotational force was 37% greater than that of a conventional synchronous reluctance electric motor. It was, unfortunately, the maximum power that its prototype reached, since itThe plastic parts melted due to the heat of the appliance.
Synchronous reluctance electric motors use copper instead of rare earth magnets, and this is much cheaper and more readily available. Manufacturing the body of an engine with these characteristics is also cheaper, but not the machines designed for it, whose costs are high. Sansone, however, hopes that “new technologies such as additive manufacturing”, including, for example, the use of 3D printers, will lower costs and make them easier to build in the future.
Meanwhile, the 17-year-old engineer is working on his 16th prototype. This one, in particular, will use stronger materials to tackle higher powers. He hopes that one day he will manage to create a model stable enough to present it to a company specialized in the mobility sector. And that, in the future, they use it for their electric vehicles.