New Electric Vehicle Engine Makes Rare Earth A Thing Of The Past

German automotive maker Mahle have designed a cost effective and efficient electric vehicle (EV) engine without the use or rare earth metals in its magnets.

Mass production is still a few years away, but Mahle have created an EV engine that is extremely durable, efficient and does away with the need for rare earth metals. Because the engine lacks rare earths, it can be more cost effective and make electric cars and other vehicles more green in total, not just a warm fuzy feeling we get driving around town.

EVs usually make use of magnets to help re-charge their batteries, but as we’ve covered previously, the extraction of rare earth metals for use in batteries and in mobile phones is a huge source of environmental damage. Instead of magnets, Mahle’s new design does away with magnets and instead uses powered coils in its spinning rotor, using contactless induction. So it’s more efficient and removes surface contact, thus reducing the need for maintenance.

China is the only place where rare earths can be processed into magnets economically, so removing the metals removes a time bottleneck and the emissions related to transporting rare earths around the world. 97% of the world’s rare earth metal supply comes from China and so any restrictions placed on production there has a significant impact on the cost and supply of the metals.

Eradicating a permanent, single-sized magnet also means Mahle’s engineers are able to vary the perameters of the rotor’s magnetism. This allows them to attain levels of efficiency through a range of operating speeds that has only ever been achieved by Formula E cars.

Hopefully, we can get some of this kind of innovation in the green mobile phone arena to reduce our environmental impact.

Read more about Mahle’s new engine and the information covered in this blog post here.