year more than 14 million cars are scrapped in Europe. Vehicles are broken
up and magnetic methods used to separate steel from other materials. Unfortunately,
the copper-wire windings inside electric motors are trapped by the iron
armatures of the motors and contaminate the recycled steel. The CEMIR
project set out to design a friable electric motor armature from compressed
iron powder. This breaks up and releases the copper wiring as the car
is shredded during end-of-life recycling operations. As a result of this
project, a complete electric motor has been produced that satisfies commercial
for ever-increasing safety and comfort, from ABS brakes to electric seats,
has increased the number of electric motors in a typical car to 40. Future
cars may contain upwards of 100 electric motors. Traditionally, electric
motor armatures were made from laminated sheets of metal. These are strong,
and although they will bend and distort under the pressure of car crushing
machinery, they will not break up and release the copper wire wound around
approach to motor design
project successfully designed an electric motor armature which breaks
up when crushed, completely freeing the copper wiring for recycling.
The motor is also lighter and more efficient. There are enormous
potential economic benefits as the world market for electric motors
for vehicles alone is worth 2.1
billion. The design can also be applied to electric motors used
in white goods and other products. The project partners all expect
to benefit from the commercial exploitation of their research.
primary breakthrough was the application of a manufacturing technique
for making components from metal powder to manufacturing the motor
armatures. The technique, called moulding or sintering, allows very
precise shapes to be cast out of metal powder. The strength characteristics
can be precisely controlled so that the motor armature stays intact
during use, but breaks up under the forces exerted by the recycling
new motor is produced by three of the project partners: metal powder
from Hoganas in
Sweden is used by Federal
Mogul Technology in the UK to make armatures. Faurecia
in France then takes these armatures and makes the electric motors.
of the design include: a brittle steel armature that will break
up during recycling; 7% less weight with no loss of power; and 11%
reduction in length. The latter is particularly significant as the
first electric motors to use the new materials will drive radiator
cooling fans - cutting their length will allow reductions in vehicle
body length, leading to further savings in materials.
and public benefits
new friable electric motor has enormous commercial potential and
is a real European success story, according to Wilfrid Bergeret
from Faurecia, the project co-ordinator. "We anticipate our present
production level of two million motors per year will increase by
15% over the next three years, thanks to this new product," he says.
Bergeret believes European research funding was vital because it
helped company scientists overcome initial resistance within their
own organisations to investing in a new production process. "The
funding requirement for project partners from across the EU stimulated
the creation of a particularly effective team and this team was
able to produce results far more quickly than any single organisation
could have done. Better still, the relationships built up during
the project will roll on into the future."
is now in commercial discussions with several car manufacturers
to bring the new motor to market as a component of new car design.
Federal Mogul will provide Faurecia with moulded armatures and other
parts, using materials supplied by Hoganas. Meanwhile the two research
centre partners - Österreichisches
Forschungszentrum Seibersdorf and Technical
University of Denmark (DTU) - expect to apply the knowledge
they have gained during CEMIR to other industrial projects.
end-of-life disposal needs
car costs will increasingly contain end-of-life disposal costs -
see Box. This innovation will benefit the public by helping to reduce
those costs and so contribute to holding down the price of cars.
environment benefits from any reduction in the use of raw materials
and energy. This new motor uses 7% less material in its production
and will allow saving of energy and materials during car recycling.
Ultimately European society must use 70% less energy and materials
than at present to be sustainable. The CEMIR project is a clear
example of how the setting of sustainability targets couple with
focussed research funding can deliver the EU agenda of sustainable
February 2000, the European Parliament endorsed EC proposals
for full producer liability for cars. This means car manufacturers
will pay all or a significant part of the costs of scrapping
cars. If you imagine every car you have ever owned parked
outside your home, you have some appreciation of the scale
of the 160 million car problem being presented to motor manufacturers.
Any innovation that improves the efficiency of the car recycling
process not only reduces costs, but also helps manufacturers
meet stiff sustainability targets, such as the targets for
recycling materials such as steel and copper defined in the
of the metal content of old cars can be retrieved for reuse.
The vehicles are mechanically broken up into small pieces.
Steel components are extracted from the mix by huge electromagnets.
This steel scrap is mixed in with iron ore to make new steel.
Unfortunately, the scrap steel from cars is impure. One important
contaminant is copper which comes primarily from electric
cars are broken up, the electric motors survive as a single
lump. The iron armatures of the motor are attracted by the
sorting electromagnets, bringing the copper coils of the motor
with them. Consequently, this very valuable copper is not
only not recycled, but also contaminates and reduces the value
of the steel. The modern car can contain anything up to 60
electric motors and as the use of electric motors in cars
has increased, for automatic windows for example, so has the
problem of copper contamination.
project in the Innovative products, processes and organisation
key action area has successfully designed and produced an electric
motor with improved environmental performance. The use of this
type of motor construction in vehicles will save materials and
energy and improve the recovery of copper and steel during the
end-of-life car recycling process.
- Cost-effective electric motors with improved recyclability and
less environmental impact (BRPR-CT96-0249)