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Emerson signs deal to build advanced motors
Published:  01 June, 2005

Wavecrest Laboratories, a US company developing advanced electric motors and drives, has signed a deal with Emerson Motor Technologies under which the two companies will collaborate on designing motors for industrial and vehicle applications. Emerson will manufacture the motors in commercial volumes.

Wavecrest`s Adaptive Motor is based on multi-phase brushless DC motors controlled by a proprietary electronic technology and software. It is claimed to deliver: high efficiencies and power densities; high torque at low speeds; the ability to program the motor to suit the application; a wide speed range at constant power; smooth, cog-free operation; the ability to act as a stepper or servo motor; and better thermal management than any conventional motor technology.

The company, founded in 2000, already has more than 20 US patents covering its technology, with further 50 pending. Its first products, launched last year, were high-performance electric bicycles, but the company is also offering a range of industrial motors up to 225kW, mainly targeted at pumping applications.

Wavecrest`s motors have a rotor that rotates around a fixed stator, although it says that the technology could be applied to traditional outer-stator designs. The stator contains a series of independently controlled electromagnets, while the rotor contains rare earth magnets. The controller analyses the rotor position, the required torque and other factors, and adjusts the current and excitation sequence of the phases to keep the motor at optimal operating conditions.

For vehicle applications, the Wavecrest motors can be built into wheel hubs and can use regenerative braking to recover energy that would otherwise be lost. The company`s target markets include developing countries, such as Thailand, where clean, efficient transport technologies are being encouraged.

Wavecrest has also produced a prototype electric version of the Smart roadster (shown above), powered by two of its 25kW in-wheel motors.

Nasa is using four of WaveCrest`s 1.8kW machines to propel a prototype robot vehicle designed to carry tools and samples for astronauts on future moon and Mars missions. The four in-wheel motors will drive the vehicle at up to 50km/h.

Mark Gallion, president of Emerson`s Automotive and Precision Motors division, describes Wavecrest as "a remarkable young company, and a leader in the emerging electric propulsion systems industry".

WaveCrest has recently reached an agreement with Matra Manufacturing and Services to develop and distribute its technology in Europe.

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