David Latimer, CEO of Yorkshire-based technology firm Magnomatics, explains how magnetic gear technology can improve micromobility
Observe any road popular with commuters and the view is quite depressing – car after car with a single occupant in vehicles designed for four or in the case of SUVs, even more.
It is some consolation that the market share for electric vehicles in the UK increased by 17.7% in February this year. In addition, working from home has resulted in a reduction in commuting. However, for those still travelling to work, reluctance to use public transport has increased vehicle use and too many journeys are still being made in cars transporting a single person.
According to David Latimer, CEO of Magnomatics, an increasingly popular mobility option is micromobility, which provides a solution not only to inner city travel, but also to the dreadful air quality in many cities. “E-bikes and e-scooters are fast, affordable, and sustainable, and to really push adoption of micromobility, I see no barrier to banning cars from city centres. To prevent pedestrians from feeling at risk from high-speed e-vehicles, roads should be made available for micromobility.”
But just how efficient are micromobility solutions? “For many e-bikes and e-scooters, powertrains have already become commodities,” says Latimer. “In this instance the priority is cost, not efficiency. Low efficiency reduces payload and range, which means more charging, which is the opposite of what we are trying to achieve – lower energy use.”
Magnomatics, a specialist in magnetic gear technology, has been commercialising magnetically geared motors and generators for some very large applications – it recently licensed its technology into offshore wind, where the efficiency of the generator is critical to achieve a low levelized cost of energy (LCOE), which is a critical measure used when bidding for a new offshore wind farm.
Having achieved success at large scale, the company is now turning its attention to much smaller machines, including drives for EVTOL aircraft for urban air mobility, as well as for personal micromobility vehicles such as e-scooters and e-bikes.
The Pseudo Direct Drive or PDD® is Magnomatics’ patented version of a magnetically geared motor. It consists of a magnetic gear mounted inside a stator. The outer magnetics of the magnetic gear are attached to the inner bore of the stator, and copper windings in the stator are used to drive the inner rotor of the magnetic gear.
“This is a relatively high-speed electric motor with a relatively low load, which results in low currents and hence, low temperatures,” explains Latimer. “This in turn brings great efficiency, long life, and prevents demagnetisation of the outer magnet array. The torque in the inner rotor is then geared up in the novel polepiece rotor, typically by between 5 and 10:1. The result is a very compact and highly efficient electric motor, which is perfect for micromobility vehicles.”