How Plasma TVs Led To Smaller Electric-Car Motor

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Axiflux compact electric motor (Axiflux)

Axiflux compact electric motor (Axiflux)

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All that sitting in front of the TV watching bad sitcoms could pay off, if a new electric motor proves successful in field trials.

A startup in Melbourne, Australia, has developed a new motor for use in an electric-powered Holden Commodore.

There's nothing wildly special about that, but the new, more efficient design was only possible due to the popularity of plasma televisions bringing down the cost of certain electrical components.

According to GoAuto, the motor, developed by David Jahshan and his company Axiflux, is claimed to be smaller, lighter and less expensive than existing designs.

The new motor will feature in one of a test fleet of electric Commodores from EV Engineering. It develops 150 kW of power (201 horsepower), and a massive 2,065 pounds-feet of torque. For comparison, the standard EV Engineering Commodores develop similar power, but "just" 295 lb-ft of torque.

At the same time, it's claimed to be 30 percent more efficient, and 79 pounds lighter--both highly advantageous for increasing driving range.

There are other benefits too. The existing electric Commodore test vehicles use a heavily modified rear subframe to accommodate the electric motor. So compact is the new motor, it could fit within the space of the differential in the gasoline model, keeping engineering changes to a minimum.

Part of the motor's efficiency is down to 23 embedded micro-controllers that adjust power consumption according to the immediate needs of the driver and vehicle. A few years ago, these controllers could have cost $50 AUS ($52) each, but now cost only $2. Why? Because similar units are used in plasma TVs, and the units' ubiquity has brought down the cost.

The units mean that parts of the motor can effectively be shut down, depending on the load. This increases efficiency above that of regular motors.

Another benefit is that the separate controllers eliminate the need for a separate power inverter, helping reduce the unit's size and improving packaging.

Axiflux is taking out patents worldwide for the motor, which Jahshan says will actually be quite easy to build--and inexpensive as a result.

So keep watching that television folks--you never know what electric vehicle technology will spring up next!


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