Drives and Controls Magazine
£5.75m funding will back motors for cars, boats and tractors
Published:  07 December, 2020

A collaborative project aimed at developing a supply chain to manufacture an innovative electric motor in the UK is one of 21 projects that will share £5.75m in Government funding to help develop PEMD (power electronics, machines and drives) technologies aimed at cutting carbon emissions in the transport, energy and industrial sectors. The funding, from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), is part of the Driving the Electric Revolution programme aimed at making the UK a global leader in PEMD technologies that will be essential to achieving net-zero carbon emissions.

In the nine-month motor project – called UK-Alumotor – a consortium of six partners led by Ricardo hopes to develop an environmentally sustainable electric motor design suitable for production in the UK, with the aim of expanding the UK’s motor manufacturing capabilities, and developing a new generation of engineers and technicians. The partners hope to remove the need for scarce material resources associated with costly existing motor designs, while disrupting established supply chain monopolies. The group will also identify manufacturing processes suitable for volume production of the motor.

Richard Gordon, Ricardo’s head of r&d, says that the UKRI funding will help the consortium “to support the mass adoption of electrification by making it more affordable, contributing to the green bounce-back with an environmentally sustainable design, and establishing the UK’s long-term future in this sector. This will position the UK at the forefront of the global electric revolution.”

The 21 projects, each lasting up to nine months, are intended to fill gaps and build capabilities in the UK’s PEMD supply chain. They involve more than 60 organisations including start-ups, universities, Catapults and some of Britain’s biggest companies.

Dr Will Drury, director of the Driving the Electric Revolution challenge, says that the projects “form a vital part of the UK’s green economic recovery from Covid-19. By focusing on growing the capability of the UK PEMD supply chain and manufacturing, we aim to make the UK a global leader in the manufacture of core technologies which underpin electrification. This is crucial in helping the UK to reach net-zero by 2050.”

One of the projects plans to commercialise an electrically-powered marine propulsion system that has no external propeller blades. The UKRI funding will help to bring a 40kW version of the permanent magnet rim-drive system to the market. The project is led by Fareham-based Rad Propulsion, whose CEO, Clive Johnson, says that the 300mm-diameter hubless drive, designed to propel powerboats and ribs, “will revolutionise the customer experience”.

Other projects that will receive funding include:
• one, led by Malvern-based Rift Technology, aiming to develop a 10-30kW motor for electric vehicles;
• a second, led by Performance Projects of Silverstone and including Printed Motor Works and Saga Robotics as partners, that will work on hub motors for farm vehicles;
• a third, led by Bath-based Wavedrives, aiming to develop a “radical” magnetically geared electric actuator; and
• a fourth, led by Birmingham-based Hypromag, that is developing a technology for producing rare-earth magnets by recovering materials from scrapped audio products such as loudspeakers.

One of the projects being funded is aiming to commercialise a 40kW marine propulsion system with no external blades.

Several of the projects will involve power semiconductor technologies such as IGBTs and silicon carbide Mosfets. Others will focus on technologies for windpower applications, including coil-winding and magnet assembly processes for ferrite-based permanent magnet generators.

More details about the projects being funded and their participants can be found here.

UKRITwitter  LinkedIn

Driving the Electric RevolutionTwitter  LinkedIn

RicardoTwitter  LinkedIn