Electric Motor Design by a 17-Year-Old Boy Could Revolutionize EVs
Robert Sansone 2022 Regeron ISEF

© RideApart.com

The 2022 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair's top award is won by Robert Sansone's synchronous reluctance motor.

What were your greatest successes when you were 17? Obtaining admission to the college of your dreams? Obtaining a first job? In Robert Sansone's case, he might be about to pioneer a brand-new method of recharging electric vehicles (EV). For his inventive synchronous reluctance motor design, the 17-year-old from Fort Pierce, Florida, just won the George D. Yancopoulos Innovator Award at the 2022 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair.

Sansone has always loved to experiment. Although still a young man, the creative inventor has already created robotic hands, high-speed running shoes, and powerful go-karts. Sansone set out to create a more economical and environmentally responsible method after discovering a video demonstrating the rare metals needed to make modern EV motors.

Sansone utilized synchronous reluctance motors, which are frequently used in fans and pumps, as opposed to the permanent magnet motors that are frequently used nowadays. These motors do not, however, produce enough torque to drive an electric vehicle. least of all, not yet.

To drive the motor, permanent magnet motors use the attraction between a spinning electromagnetic field and magnets attached to a rotor. Magnets are not used in synchronous reluctance motors. A steel rotor with several slots cut into the disc is typically used in the design. The difference in magnetism, or saliency ratio, between the steel and air-filled gaps, produces torque as the rotor rotates.

Robert Sansone Synchronous Reluctance Motor
© RideApart.com
Sansone's novel synchronous reluctance motor, on the other hand, takes a different approach. Sansone inserts another magnetic field into the fold rather than cutting slots into the rotor. The young inventor does not reveal the specifics due to concerns about potential patent protection, but his theory appears to work in practice.

Sansone's prototype, made of 3-D printed plastic, copper wires, and a steel rotor, increased torque by 39% and efficiency by 31% at 300 rpm. At 750rpm, efficiency increased to 37%, but the prototype's 3D-printed plastic melted at higher revolution rates. Sansone's discoveries earned him the George D. Yancopoulos Innovator Award in 2022, but he isn't resting on his laurels.

For his next prototype, the Florida native intends to use 3-D modeling and heavier materials. If Sansone's upcoming design achieves higher rpm and performance figures, he will consider starting the patent process and approaching automotive companies.

"Rare-earth materials in existing electric motors are a major factor undermining electric vehicle sustainability," Sansone said. "It would be a dream come true to see the day when EVs are completely sustainable thanks to my novel motor design."

While the materials used to construct synchronous reluctance motors are less expensive, design complexity and manufacturing costs remain a barrier to widespread use in electric vehicles. Nonetheless, with advances in additive technologies such as 3D printing, Sansone's design has the potential to shape the industry in the future.

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