Science

Texchange system moves the motor out of the electric vehicle

Texchange system moves the mot...
A simplified rendering of a mine cart moving along a linear electric motor-equipped track (Image: Texchange)
A simplified rendering of a mine cart moving along a linear electric motor-equipped track (Image: Texchange)
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A simplified rendering of a mine cart moving along a linear electric motor-equipped track (Image: Texchange)
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A simplified rendering of a mine cart moving along a linear electric motor-equipped track (Image: Texchange)
A linear electric motor, with a reaction plate on top (Image: Texchange)
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A linear electric motor, with a reaction plate on top (Image: Texchange)

There are already concepts that would see electric vehicles draw power from cables in the road, thus freeing those vehicles up from lugging around heavy batteries. British firm Texchange, however, is going a step farther – it's developing a system where the motor is in the "road," too.

The company ultimately hopes to see the technology used for mass rapid transit in developing nations, although its more immediate application could be in mine carts. It's based around synchronous linear electric motors.

In a regular cylindrical electric motor, a magnet-equipped rotor spins within a magnetic field-generating stator (that's the part with the copper coils in it). A linear electric motor is sort of like a regular one, except it's "unrolled" to form a slab. The stator is now flat, and the rotor likewise now takes the form of a flat reaction plate. Instead of spinning, the reaction plate shoots across the stator, from one end to the other.

A linear electric motor, with a reaction plate on top (Image: Texchange)
A linear electric motor, with a reaction plate on top (Image: Texchange)

By synchronizing a series of those motors laid end-to-end along a track, a reaction plate could be made to "surf" a traveling magnetic wave all the way down that track in the same way as some maglev trains – but without the levitation. Attach that plate to the underside of a mine cart, and you get a motorless moving cart. Additionally, multiple carts could be made to move independently on one track at the same time, going in either direction and at different speeds.

According to Texchange, not only should the system be more energy-efficient than using heavier motor-equipped carts, but it should also be more reliable, more robust, and allow for the climbing of gradients of over 20 percent. It could conceivably even be used in cable-less elevators.

Texchange managing director Rupert Cruise tells us that the company is currently building a demonstration model with a manufacturing partner in Leicester.

Source: Texchange

17 comments
Racqia Dvorak
The problem that plagues such concepts, (grantedly intelligent concepts) is that motors are expensive. With a traditional vehicle, you minimize financial loss by having a small motor in a vehicle that can cross relatively inexpensive transportation routes. When you make the actual surface more expensive (and making the whole thing a motor would do so astronomically) then you must significantly have some sort of improvement that offsets that cost. I sincerely doubt any of the purported benefits above would be able to offset the massive cost. But cool idea.
Tom Lee Mullins
I can see that for small routes but bigger ones would make it expensive to do.
justme70
"Mass rapid transit in developing nations"? Hogwash. That's just pretty talk for the investor relations, I'd guess. As Racqia Dvorak points out, linear motors are incredibly expensive on a per-linear-foot basis. However, they do have a very good power to moving-mass ratio, so they can be very effective in applications over a short distance. That's why they use a linear induction motor in the U.S. Navy's new electromagnetic aircraft catapult. Another example that might be more familiar is the "WEDWay People Mover" or "Tomorrowland Transit Authority" at Disney World, built in 1975. People have been talking for decades about using this technology in elevators, but I don't think there's ever been more than a few demonstration models actually built. Using it for a mine tram might actually be a cost-effective idea, compared to the safety issues involved in overhead catenary or battery systems. I understand that the company might be a little cagey about what exactly they are doing, but from the article there's no indication as to whether there's anything actually new about this. It would have been nice to get a little more information about why this is news.
mhpr262
Thse tracks will be VERY expensive, with huge amounts of copper or aluminium going into the "motor", with only 0,00001% of the track actually powering a vehicle at any given time. And only specialized cars can use them.
Paul Maher
What we don't need is a massive new grid to become part of our infrastructure. I believe that in the not to distant future that LENR will show us a way to generate all of the electricity we will need, and do it on board.
moto-klasika
... really, what is NEW here? Such system was known and practically tried when I was a boy, and that was decades ago! Hundreds of kilometres of tracks in undeveloped countries? Maybe they could find somebody in EU or UN birocracy to support such program, with other people money... Beside, what could be influence of strong electro-magnetic field on people aboard? Zoran
Billy Sharpstick
We built one of these for Duke University in the mid 70s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otis_Hovair
CliffG
This is a preposterous idea even for short routes. At the very least, they should put the linear electric motor in the vehicle and have the road be the far-less-expensive reaction plate.
Michael Logue
Massive amounts of copper needed for something like this. Super expensive and a tremendous waste of a natural resource - not to mention the additional mining and pollution this would generate. Idiotic idea.
hannibus42
Is it just me......or does this sound a lot like the minecart system in minecraft? Seriously, just compare the two