A 17-year-old from the US has completely redesigned and significantly simplified the induction motors widely used today, which might have a big impact on the electric vehicles (EVs) of the future.

EVs, and so many systems, use permanent magnetic motors to create torque. In a permanentmagnetmotor, conductive coils along the stator induce a magnetic field when powered. Permanent magnets on the rotor react to this field, causing a spin along the central axis of the motor shaft, in turn creating torque for the vehicle.

Instead of this type motors, Robert Sansone turned to the synchronous reluctance motor, typically found in lower-torque applications such as pumps and fans.

A synchronous reluctance motor does not use magnets. It features a slotted-disc rotor that produces the torque when “catching” the stator. However, this torque is not strong enough for powering EVs.

Sansone redesigned the synchronous reluctance motor by adding a magnetic field, which increased torque by nearly 40% and improved efficiency 30% at 300rpm, and even 40% at 750rpm.

Sansone is also keen to make his design sustainable. He hopes his research will lead to the proliferation of electric vehicles made of sustainable materials.

“Seeing the day when EVs are fully sustainable due to the help of my novel motor design would be a dream come true,” he said. “Rare-earth materials in existing electric motors are a major factor undermining the sustainability of electric vehicles.”

The 17-year old won the top prize of $75,000 at the 2022 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (Regeneron ISEF), the world’s largest global high-school competition. Other top prizes went to projects covering energy storage, biomedical engineering and robotics.


Image: Regeneron ISEF competition 2022 winners, left to right: Rishab Jain, Robert Sansone and Abdullah Al-Ghamdi