Home > Automotive > Advances in Copper Technology Contribute to Induction Motor Technology Improvements (Part 2 of 2)

Advances in Copper Technology Contribute to Induction Motor Technology Improvements (Part 2 of 2)

September 15th, 2011

By Bob Weed, CDA Vice President, OEM

We know that copper rotor motors designed specifically for high efficiency will outperform their conventional counterparts. Replacing an aluminum rotor with a copper rotor motor will increase the advantages of an induction motor – and the performance of plug-in and hybrid electric vehicles. 

The copper rotor bars and end rings reduce electrical losses, leading to a smaller, more efficient motor. Engineers had experimented with fabricated copper rotors but were constantly looking for an efficient, high production process such as die casting. Die casting copper is more challenging than die casting aluminum because of copper’s much higher melting temperature.

The International Copper Association (ICA) and the Copper Development Association (CDA) realized the need to improve casting technology and have conducted extensive research on casting copper rotors for industrial applications. We quickly saw the need to share this information with automotive engineers. We now are actively promoting cast copper rotors to the transportation industry.

Copper rotors also provide an economic advantage over aluminum rotors. Although the raw material cost for aluminum may be less than copper, the motor with a cast copper rotor can be up to 25% smaller than an equivalent motor with an aluminum rotor. The superior heat conduction of copper also contributes to cost savings.

With these advantages, more motor manufacturers are now evaluating induction motors with cast copper rotors for future vehicles. The copper industry is ready and willing to provide assistance to engineers and designers as they work to enhance the technology in hybrid and electric vehicles. If you’re interested in learning more about how copper works in an induction motor, please contact me, rweed@cda.copper.org.






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