Al Fin found a new motor design that was talked up at Greentechmedia. The excitement is due to the new design not needing rare earth magnets for high efficiency.

NovaTorque released its first products; two and three horsepower 1800 RPM motors, at the end of October. The company, which has received funds from NEA, has been in relative stealth mode for a while.

NovaTorque Electric Motor. Image Credit: NovaTorque.

Dan Mertens, vice president of marketing said at the recent Emerging Technologies Summit, “We can use low-cost ferrite magnets. Neodymium is 15 to 17 times more expensive.”

This is a shot across the export restrictions that China has been threatening for a couple of months.  Reports have it that the Chinese government would curb exports of these materials to help its own industries.  A firestorm ensued from the U.S. Congress to Japan where Mitsubishi is leading a recycling program for recovering rare earth elements from discarded electronics and Toyota with Sumitomo announced a plan to go as far as recover nickel which isn’t a rare earth, but some is coming from China.

Spooked gets responses.  Shortages could occur as other countries’ mines get going after the notorious problems of regulatory barriers with legal challenges.  The world economy outside of China would take a terrible hit if exports were reduced or cut off.  That said, the electric vehicle push could be stillborn needing a restart with millions or billions of capital dollars put at risk.  No wonder the recoil was a firestorm.

Now NovaTorque has introduced a new motor geometry. As you look at the photos you’ll see the magnets on the rotating section look completely different from what one expects and the stationary magnets are also quite different in appearance.  The gain comes from two aspects the geometry offers.

NovaTorque Motor Exploded View. Click image for the largest view and a link to a video demonstration.

The first gain is the area of the magnetism interfacing between the rotating magnets and the stationary ones. The cone shape which rotates, is a larger interface than a straight cut one.  Thus more magnetic force can apply.  The second gain is the rotating magnet gets magnetic force further out from the shaft’s center, increasing the leverage – so increasing torque.

It’s a very clever innovation.

Other advantages include the NovaTorque motor maintaining its efficient operation over a very broad speed and load range. A typical commercial or industrial induction motor has its highest operating efficiency at or near its rated rpm and power, and its efficiency decreases as either or both speed and load are reduced. This makes variable speed motors practical at much lower costs.

How about this claim: the NovaTorque motor delivers comparable output in one frame size smaller than an equivalent induction motor. This means less space is required for the motor, enabling equipment manufacturers to reduce the size of their equipment and save on materials. The NovaTorque motor has a cross-sectional area that is 60% of equivalent induction motors. On those massive single-phase capacitor start motors this would be a big deal.

NovaTorque is also saying they have higher efficiency than NEMA premium rated induction motors, at comparable pricing.

But that might not be enough.  With major US motor builders like Baldor, Lincoln, Leesson, Marathon and others in intense competition, long relationships, and great reputations NovaTorque is going to need more than a clever innovative design.  Moreover the industry is riddled with long-term deals at big discounts.  NovaTorque has to get very sophisticated to survive. And that means better quality, efficiency and price competitiveness.

Loose claims on the comparable price won’t cut it.  Most larger motors don’t have rare earth magnets anyway.

It’s going to be much harder to gain market share than people outside the industry will grasp.

The real question is in the small sized motors like the ones in the computer with tiny fans and appliances with designs pressing to smaller more efficient motors at every product revision.  And don’t count the Japanese out – they have an intense national effort underway to increase motor efficiency.

This writer is impressed with the innovation, the potential to drive down both costs and prices and fend off Chinese oligarchy in the rare earth element market.

Can NovaTorque pull it off?  Or would the NovaTorque investors be better served with a licensing effort to get the technology out into the market far wider and faster?  Facing the world’s electric motor manufacturers in a recession market with all their native advantages seems really difficult.  Keep in mind the Chinese haven’t restricted exports, other nations have mines, including the U.S. and new mine locations are known.

Rare earth is pretty thin for building a company’s future.

Still, the NovaRorque motor is so very innovative.  Lets hope it get major market legs soon.


19 Comments so far

  1. Tweets that mention A New Electric Motor Design | New Energy and Fuel -- on November 18, 2010 12:13 PM

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by V is For Voltage, Hollywood Electrics. Hollywood Electrics said: Awesome! Can't wait to try one out. RT @visforvoltage: No rare earth materials – A New Electric Motor Design […]

  2. David Manney on November 19, 2010 9:13 AM

    I agree. It’s a good innovative design, but with such a tight market, it’s going to be hard for them to open the door.

  3. Innovative New Motor Design - WATTS NEW!WATTS NEW! on November 19, 2010 9:17 AM

    […] to break into the tight electric motor market. Nonetheless, NovaTorque is giving it a shot with its first two products: The first gain is the area of the magnetism interfacing between the rotating magnets and the […]

  4. J.P. Katigbak on November 20, 2010 8:22 AM

    There is nothing worry about the tight market for new (as well as improved) electric motors. Why are some people miss the point about a new kind of electric motor that has yet to be introduced?

    It is better to wait and see how it works – and sells the new type of electric motors not only in the U.S., but also in other markets around the world too. And it will pass the international standards for quality, reliability and safety.

    Seriously, you really need to know about this type of electric motor soon or you will never be able to understand the true technological abilities that would come out in the latter.

    Thank you very much.

  5. mountainbike on November 20, 2010 12:31 PM

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  6. David Manney on November 20, 2010 3:49 PM

    Hi JP.

    I didn’t mean any disrespect. My point is more to the point of any new motor design is fighting an uphill battle against an industry with how many decades behind the current AC/DC designs.

    The two main keys are 1) if it works and proves to efficient and 2) effective marketing (silly but true) than it will get a foothold.

  7. J.P. Katigbak on November 23, 2010 5:18 AM

    Of course it is, David Manney. You pointed out that any new electric motor design is “fighting an uphill battle” against other electric motors that currently have AC/DC designs, especially when they are used mostly in the industrial sector.

    There are two main keys you have mentioned: no.1) if it works and proves efficient; and no.2) if it takes an effective marketing strategy which you said is “silly but true”, then new types of electric motors will get a foothold not only in the U.S. but also in other markets around the world.

    Got that, Mr. Manney?

    Remember, it would be better to be patient until the right time to launch new (and improve) types of electric motors. Only time will tell about how well they are – and how well the industrial sectors would accept the improvements in efficiency and productivity even more.

    Thank you very much.

  8. JPK on November 29, 2010 9:35 PM

    Correction: I would like to say that “it would be better to be patient until the right time to launch the new (and improved) types of electric motors. Only time will tell about how well they are – and how well the industrial sectors would accept the improvements in efficiency and productivity even more”.

    Thanks again.

  9. Joseph Sillitoe on February 24, 2011 6:52 PM

    I see where this company is coming from. When there is so many products out there that do similar things, they don’t want to change. Plus the fact that fussel fuels run almost everything, and they don’t even want to think that a new power source might not come from anything they could control. I already figured out how to make a self substained power supply just using mechanical parts, and I don’t even have a college education, and I have been trying to push this concept for 2 years now and just been laughed at. But one of these days they will turn around when other cost get to high, because it all comes down to money.

  10. Enrique Sossaman on May 26, 2011 6:08 PM

    I’ve been checking your blog for a while now, seems like everyday I learn something new 🙂 Thanks

  11. Audria Wamble on September 1, 2011 1:28 PM

    I’ve been checking your blog for a while now, seems like everyday I learn something new 🙂 Thanks

  12. Jeff Olive on September 1, 2011 9:04 PM

    Awesome post. I so good to see someone taking the time to share this information

  13. Carrie Smillie on September 22, 2011 1:02 PM

    I REALLY liked your post and blog! It took me a minute bit to find your site…but I bookmarked it. Would you mind if I posted a link back to your post?

  14. thirumoorthi on November 22, 2011 5:48 AM

    very nice motor,

  15. akhil chandran on August 19, 2012 2:07 AM

    nice innovation

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