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Engineer plays moving part in more efficient motor

By Patrick Nelson

Dr Mark Thiele … “Six million times faster” Dr Mark Thiele … “Six million times faster”

A Charles Darwin University graduate’s research into the sublimely technical field of mechatronics has helped Australian engineers design the next generation of electric motor.

Dr Mark Thiele said the result of his analysis into “cogging torque” would help in the production of a quieter, more efficient and cheaper electric motor.

“These are motors that are used in pool pumps and air conditioning systems,” he said.

“The team is continually developing new technology and this will be incorporated into newly released products.”

Dr Thiele said he used Finite Element Analysis software and laboratory experiments on production motors to prove a new mathematical method to predict the source of cogging in yet-to-be manufactured motors. 

Cogging, which generally takes the form of noise or vibration, is caused by an imbalance or imperfection among the moving parts in a brushless direct current motor.

“The new method is six million times faster than finite element analysis alone,” he said.

“Our method allows us to determine which part of the motor contributes most to the cogging: the rotor, the stator, the magnets or a misalignment among the parts,” he said.

“With this information, motor design engineers can focus on the parts of the motor that are causing the biggest problems.”

Dr Thiele said his research focused on the mechanical aspects of a project that involved some highly specific electrical engineering in the interfacing torque sensors and encoders of the laboratory equipment at the Casuarina campus.

“I co-designed the mechanical side of the test rig while the electrical engineers looked after the electrical interfacing in what was a real team effort,” he said.

Dr Thiele, who graduated in Darwin last month, now works with a team of Australian engineers in Melbourne who design electric motors for global consumption.