Magnetism improves electric motors

Magnetic materials can help develop electric motors and generators that promise energy savings.
By Gregory Hale, ISSSource August 8, 2014

The University of Adelaide researchers used two emerging magnetic materials, soft magnetic composite (SMC) and amorphous magnetic material (AMM), and two novel production techniques to form the stator within the electrical motor or generator. The stator is the stationary and magnetic part of a motor surrounding the rotor which turns.

Both new techniques have been successfully developed and tested with small prototypes, showing substantial energy efficiency gains – up to 90% energy efficiency in small motors compared to 60-70 percent in conventional motors. The new motors are also smaller in size for a given power output.

These new motors were an important part of the development of a patented highly efficient water pump system with potential widespread application. In the developed world, more than 50 percent of all energy generated is used by electrical motors. A significant portion of these motors are used to drive water pumps. They are invisible, but used everywhere – in pools, vehicles, boats, irrigation and industry. For example, large buildings have multiple water pumps and every swimming pool has at least one water pump which runs for several hours a day, consuming a large amount of electrical energy. Currently all commercial motors are made by pressing very thin metal sheets of silicon iron together and then stamping out the shape of the stator from the metal, but this process is wasteful of the metal sheeting and it limits the best use of available space for the copper wire needed in motors.

Using SMC material, the researchers developed motors that operate at low speed with high power output and low production costs, suitable for swimming pool and similar pumps. The new stators using SMC have no need for machining, no scrap metal, and come with improved space utilization of copper wire for greater power output. The research teams have developed patented prototypes and testing facilities. They are now looking for further investment partners to commercialize the technology.

Gregory Hale is the editor and founder of Industrial Safety and Security Source (, a news and information website covering safety and security issues in the manufacturing automation sector. This content originally appeared on the ISSSource website. Edited by Joy Chang, Digital Project Manager, CFE Media,