Amorphous metal core motor (via Hitachi)
In an effort to reduce the intake of rare metals, Hitachi has designed a 11kW industrial axial-gap motor that uses no rare-earth magnates. Traditional motors are typically made from neodymium or dysprosium. In order to accomplish this milestone, researchers at Hitachi designed the new double-rotor motor using a ‘stratified amorphous (iron) metal core’ that’s surrounded by laminated low-magnetic ferrite material. This creates a magnetic flux that passes through the narrow gap between the two rotors which apparently gives the motor a 93% energy efficiency rating and a reduction in overall size over other motors in the same 11kW class.
This amorphous metal exhibits unique characteristics over conventional crystalline material which enables the higher efficiency rating according to IE4 (International Electrotechnical Commission standard), however Hitachi isn’t saying how they created the amorphous steel (aliens?) which gives the motor its efficiency. The company has also used 3D magnetic-field analysis software as well as 3D thermal analysis ‘technologies’ that helped them design a working prototype. Hitachi plans on using the 11kW axial-gap motor for various fans and drive pumps and is expected to be released to the public sometime in 2014.
Based on the characteristics of the Hitachi motor, a landslide of copy-cats will produce similar devices. The stranglehold of the rare-earth market will soon loosen. Let's hope this tech scales, electric vehicles would benefit greatly with a lighter, cheaper, and more efficient motor.