UK project will aid research into next gen electric motors

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Cobham Technical Services has entered into a partnership with Jaguar Land Rover and Ricardo to carry out research into the design of next generation electric motors for low carbon emission vehicles.

As part of the three year initiative, Cobham will develop multi-physics software and capture the other partners' methodology in order to design, simulate and analyse the performance of high efficiency, lightweight electric traction motors that eliminate the use of expensive magnetic materials. Using these new software tools, Jaguar Land Rover and Ricardo will design and manufacture a prototype switched reluctance motor that addresses the requirements of luxury hybrid vehicles. The project is one of 16 collaborative R&D programmes to have won funding from the Technology Strategy Board and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, with total investment amounting to £1.5million. Kevin Ward, director of Cobham Technical Services, said: "Design software for switched reluctance motors is at about the same level as diesel engine design software when it was first introduced. Cobham will develop its existing switched reluctance motor capabilities to provide the consortium with enhanced tools based on the widely used Opera suite for design, finite element simulation and analysis." In addition to expanding various facets of Opera's electromagnetic capabilities, Cobham will investigate advanced integration with its other multi-physics software to obtain more accurate evaluation of model related performance parameters such as vibration. "Design throughput will also be enhanced via more extensive parallelisation of code and developing an environment which captures the workflow of the design process," noted Ward. At the end of the project, improved design tools and processes are expected to be in place to support rapid design and help accelerate the uptake of the technology into production. Tony Harper, head of research at Jaguar Land Rover, said: "It is important to understand the capability of switched reluctance motors in the context of the vehicle as a whole so that we can set component targets that will deliver the overall vehicle experience. Jaguar Land Rover will apply its expertise in designing and producing world class vehicles to this project, with the aim of developing the tools and technology for the next generation of electric motors."