The Glam in Electric Motor Design

Applications for electric motor design are shown including small size motors for power tools, totally enclosed designs for agricultural environments, anti-corroding designs for humid operation, and more. Don't miss Allison's truly inspiring tutorial on the basics of electromagnetism.


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An electric motor is a device that turns electrical energy into mechanical energy. The basic design for the electric motor was invented over two-hundred years ago. Although electric motors have thousands of applications, they all work based on the same concept: electromagnetism. The basic principle of electromagnetism states that when you run an electric current through a wire, a magnetic field is generated. So when you run electricity through a wire, the wire itself becomes an electromagnet. An electric motor has a stationary part called a stator and a rotating part called a rotor. The stator generates a magnetic field and the rotor is an electromagnet that rotates inside this field. Because opposite poles of a magnet attract and like poles repel, the magnetic south pole of the rotor will move toward the magnetic north pole of the stator. By repeatedly switching the direction of the current in the rotor¦s electromagnet the poles keep flipping sides and this rotational motion continues.

Sometimes you want an electric motor to run at different speeds depending on the application you¦re using it for. Engineers use units called (variable speed drives÷ to control the speed of an electric motor by controlling the voltage or frequency of the electricity used to run the motor. The use of drives allows for smoother operation, acceleration control, accurate positioning and torque control in electric motors.

Electric Motors and drives also have a variety of applications in the transportation industry. As concerns about climate change associated with the emission of greenhouse gases grow some jurisdictions like California are mandating that a certain number of vehicles automakers produce must be zero emissions vehicles. While cars that run on electric motors are currently available they have to overcome some challenges that are impeding their adoption. The current battery technology is expensive and isn¦t quite at the level required to make long-distance travel practical in an electric car. Also, the lack of charging stations for electric cars is a practical concern.