Cobham Technical Services is leading a collaborative research programme on next-generation electric motors for low carbon emission vehicles.

The ‘Rapid Design and Development of a Switched Reluctance Traction Motor’ project will also involve partners Jaguar Land-Rover and engineering consultancy Ricardo UK, and is co-funded by the Technology Strategy Board.

As part of its work, Cobham will develop multi-physics software and capture the other partners’ methodology in order to design, simulate and analyse the performance of high efficiency, lightweight electric traction motors that eliminate the use of expensive magnetic materials. Using these new software tools, JLR and Ricardo will design and manufacture a prototype switched reluctance motor that addresses the requirements of luxury hybrid vehicles.

Kevin Ward, director of Cobham Technical Services – Vector Fields Software, said: “Cobham will develop its existing SRM capabilities to provide the consortium with enhanced tools based on the widely used Opera suite for design, finite element simulation and analysis. In addition to expanding various facets of Opera’s electromagnetic capabilities, we will investigate advanced integration with our other multi-physics software, to obtain more accurate evaluation of model related performance parameters such as vibration. Design throughput will also be enhanced via more extensive parallelisation of code and developing an environment which captures the workflow of the design process.”

Tony Harper, Jaguar Land Rover head of research, added: “Jaguar Land Rover will apply its expertise in designing and producing world class vehicles to this project, with the aim of developing the tools and technology for the next generation of electric motors.”

Dr Andrew Atkins, chief engineer – innovation, at Ricardo UK, said: “The development of technologies enabling the design of electric vehicle motors that avoid the use of expensive and potentially carbon-intensive rare-earth metals, is a major focus for the auto industry. Ricardo is pleased to be involved in this innovative programme and we look forward to working with Cobham and Jaguar Land Rover to develop this important new technology.”

The project has a three-year timetable, at the end of which improved design tools and processes will be in place to support rapid design, helping to accelerate the uptake of this technology into production.