SOURCE: Chorus Motors plc
October 26, 2010 11:58 ET
Powerful Chorus® Motors End Need for Rare Earth Elements in Wind Turbines, Hybrid Vehicles
GIBRALTAR--(Marketwire - October 26, 2010) - The new Chinese embargo on exports of rare earth elements could have the most severe impacts on two high-growth fields, wind-power turbines and hybrid-electric vehicles. But there's a ready solution for both fields that doesn't use rare earths at all -- and is a more-effective and lower-cost technology as well.
Most current wind-power systems and hybrid vehicles use permanent magnet motors, which require significant amounts of the rare earth metals neodymium and dysprosium.
But new advanced-technology drive motors don't require rare earths: The powerful new Chorus Meshcon motor is an advanced AC induction motor that co-opts electromagnetic harmonics to offer dramatic improvements in torque, size, weight, and reliability. A multiphase Chorus Meshcon motor can produce five times the startup torque of a same-sized three-phase conventional motor, and more than a comparable permanent magnet motor. And it uses no rare earths or other exotic materials at all.
Even apart from the export bans by China, which produces some 95% of the world supply, demand for rare earths is outpacing supply. A recent report by the Stratfor Global Intelligence service(1) finds that a typical wind-power turbine requires about 350 kilograms of rare earths (mostly neodymium), while a Toyota Prius hybrid-electric car uses some 13.5 kg.
The Stratfor report concludes that "As the economic recovery proceeds, it is no stretch to envision outright gaps in exports from China within two to five years, even without the kinds of political complications the REE market has suffered in recent days."
Supply shocks from Zaire (1978) and China (now)
With production of both wind-power generators and hybrid-electric vehicles expected to increase swiftly, manufacturers may seek alternative technologies not dependent on uncertain rare earth supplies. Indeed, this supply-crisis situation has occurred before in the motor field, and it is why rare earths have recently become so critical. Permanent magnet motors used to rely on cobalt to maintain magnetization, but in 1978 a Soviet-inspired invasion of Zaire suddenly halted some 60% of the world's cobalt supply.
Cobalt users then, notably the automobile manufacturers, embarked on a crash effort to find a substitute for unavailable cobalt. It took five years to find a replacement -- neodymium, one of the rare earth metals. Now, however, a 2008 Chorus Motors study(2) found, "permanent magnet consumers have become more dependent on China for neodymium than they ever were on Zaire for cobalt."
Supply-certain technology here now
One company has developed and demonstrated the technology to generate the peak motor power typically associated with neodymium, but without relying on exotic materials or an unreliable supply chain. Chorus Motors' patented motor design and software control unlock extremely high torque in motors made of nothing more exotic than iron and copper.
Because of Chorus's licensable technology, it is uniquely positioned to take advantage of emerging resource conditions-the impending shortfall in neodymium supplies-and enable high-power motor builders to thrive in them. Chorus is ready to provide motor makers and motor users with 'Phase II', the completion of the supply-security process that began over 25 years ago; to step away from specialty magnet materials once and for all.
Chorus is offering complete supply emancipation: Instead of relying on imported neodymium to supply magnetic fields to motors, the next stage of motor development will rely on the classic electromagnets of induction machines-but with the twist of Chorus high phase-order drives that generate far higher peak torque.
The idea that supply security can arrive together with improved quality and reduced costs is an unexpected win-win proposal-but it is in fact why neodymium magnets supplanted cobalt in the 1980s. And it's why Chorus is now ready to supplant neodymium.
About Chorus Motors
Chorus Motors plc (PINKSHEETS: CHOMF) has developed the proprietary Chorus® Star and Chorus® Meshcon™ electric motor technologies, which offer substantial performance improvements over comparable motor and drive systems. The Chorus systems produce high torque at start-up speeds and are ideal for traction applications such as
automobiles, trucks, locomotives, and ships. Chorus Motors are ideal for series-hybrid vehicles, and are already being developed to drive aircraft on the ground: Twin Chorus motors drive the WheelTug® onboard electric drive system for aircraft. If the Chorus Motor can drive an airplane, it can also drive a car or truck.
For more information, see www.chorusmotors.gi
(1) Stratfor Global Intelligence, "China and the Future of Rare Earth Elements," Oct. 12, 2010; www.stratfor.com
(2) A. Sichel, "The Story of Neodymium -- Motors, Materials and the Search for Supply Security," A Chorus Motors White Paper, Autumn 2008; www.chorusmotors.com