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Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants Leave a Comment

Höganäs AB, a major Swedish specialist in powdered and sintered metals, has created a bicycle motor as a low cost, light weight, high performance unit for the Asian market.

According to Höganäs Group CEO Alrik Danielson, “We chose the bicycle motor as a first application when introducing our new motor concept. The bicycle motor is very challenging, in terms of performance as well as cost, but we are confident that we have a unique product. It is lighter than other electric motors and in the e-bike it has a good range, up to 75 kilometres, thanks to high efficiency.” He sees the modular design as being adaptable to other applications, such as “scooters, other light weight electric vehicles, pumps, fans and generators.”

Hoganas electric bike hub motor. Note the low parts count. Illustration from Gizmag

The motor is made from recycled materials, with a stator from powder made from metal scrap, and “less rare earth magnets and copper wire than comparable conventional electric motors.”  Although no performance specifications were released, the benefits of not having to rely on scarce or costly materials has merit. Höganäs intends to introduce the motor this fall, with licensing and subcontracting of the motors to follow, along with expansion into markets beyond bicycles.

The company references the “power of powder” and is apparently setting out to make others into believers.  Their soft magnetic composite (SMC) materials are composed of high purity iron particles with an electrically insulated surface.  This isotropic material is claimed to have adequate strength for motor applications, provide high saturation and low eddy current loss.  One outstanding benefit is manufacturability, with the powdered composite material being able to replace multiple laminations common in some motor designs, an example being  1,300 laminated parts being replaced by five SMC components.   SMC components were used in the prototype motor built by Oxford University graduate students for the Morgan Lifecar, an 11 kilogram (24.2 pound) unit producing 50 kilowatts (67 horsepower).  Modeling has shown that it is capable of outputs up to 150 kW. 

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