Modular AXIal flux Motor for Automotive (MAXIMA) is a recently launched project led by the Arts et Métiers Sciences and Technology campus in Lille (France)

From February 2023 until January 2027, a multidisciplinary consortium will develop and validate a complete methodology to design electrical machines (EM) and the associated manufacturing process for the automotive core market. To achieve this objective, and promote sustainable transportation, the consortium will focus on a dedicated topology: Axial Flux Machine (AFM).

Most electric vehicles rely on Radial Flux Machines (RFM), which have been currently highly studied and optimized.  An AFM is a type of EM where, by principle, the main magnetic flux flows, contrary to RFM, in 3D. AFM machines currently on the market are efficient but only cover a niche market due to high manufacturing costs.

However, an in-depth analysis of AFM technology reveals a great potential for increasing the performance of electric powertrains. New designs will result in a more compact and efficient motor, making it a good choice for automotive applications where space is limited. Moreover, a modular approach means ASFMs can be manufactured on a wide power range by stacking identical rotors and stators. This approach will alleviate costs by limiting the types of parts to manufacture while increasing the output volume. This scaling leads to reduced manufacturing costs and makes maintenance and recycling easier.

The consortium must overcome technological and scientific challenges in the electromagnetic, mechanical, and thermal fields to promote market integration of these technologies. This will boost the widespread electrification of vehicles, as component costs are reduced, and performance (efficiency, compactness…) increases. To improve performance, an advanced design procedure combining new concepts for thermal management will be developed.

A Digital Twin, a virtual replica of the AFM, will be built to develop optimal control and to test the AFM to its limits. To reduce costs, the AFM will be designed concurrently with its manufacturing process, combined with a modular approach. The AFM’s end-of-life will also be considered, especially the recycling of the permanent magnets made from critical raw materials.

The life cycle of each solution will be considered using Life Cycle Assessment in order to orient the AFM design and manufacturing toward solutions with a reduced environmental impact.

MAXIMA, funded by the European Union

MAXIMA is a research and innovation project funded by the Horizon Europe program, the European Union’s new research and innovation framework program for the period 2021-2027, that brings together eleven research teams and companies from six European countries.

The consortium covers the entire value chain of the automotive industry. OEMs such as Stellantis, automotive drive manufacturers such as Nidec PSA Emotors, and electrical machine designers such as 4Multiphysics will team up with researchers of the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel with the main goal of designing and developing a low-cost modular AFSM with a limited environmental impact.

Höganäs, OCAS (ArcelorMittal Group), and MIMplus Technologies as well as Arts et Métiers will bring their expertise to optimize the manufacturing/recycling processes of the AFSM, as well as the ferromagnetic materials, which play a key role in the electric machine. Communication for the project will be handled by the Galician University-Enterprise Foundation (FEUGA).

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