The Team of SUSU’s Institute of Engineering and Technology Invented Wheel Hub Motor for Electric Race Car

Students and research fellows of South Ural State University’s Institute of Engineering and Technology invented a unique electric transmission for hybrid- and electric transport – a wheel hub motor for electric race car. This work has been executed within project-based learning of students.

The basis of the device is a special electrical machinery, an inverter electric motor of combined excitation. Specificity of the electric motor is in the fact that its inductor has two sources of magnetic field: high-coercivity constant magnets and non-contact excitation winding.

Powerful constant magnets allow obtaining big moments within small size of the wheel’s disk, and excitation winding provides the possibility to regulate velocity in a wide range using the low-energy excitation circuit. This significantly diminishes the size of the electronic control system and allows placing it in the wheel hub motor. Placement of all components in the wheel’s disk clears the underbonnet space for energy accumulator and enhances driver’s comfort. Innovative nature of this project has been verified by a patent of the Russian Federation for the structure of the inverter motor.

“This is a very complex engineering device. It contains convertor electric motor, planetary reduction gear, the system of brakes, the cooling system, and electronic switching system. There is one more specificity. One year ago we only had the patented idea of how to perform this electronic transmission. We had no research background, so our students had to pass the entire cycle of development, just like it happens in real-life manufacture: from an engineering task to a mockup sample,” says Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Institute of Engineering and Technology’s Faculty of Energy and Power Engineering, Doctor of Sciences (Engineering), Sergey Gandzha.

One of the most critical units of the invented transmission is the planetary reduction gear. Complexity of its construction was in the fact that it had to fit into the size of the wheel’s disk and the inverter motor. Several variant of the reductor’s arrangement had been considered. The most applicable one was the variant proposed by Professor, Doctor of Sciences (Engineering), Sergey Kondakov.

Presently, a world-level innovative item can be invented only at the intersection of sciences and engineering disciplines; therefore, this device had been being developed by two faculties of the SUSU Institute of Engineering and Technology: the Automobile and Tractor Faculty and the Faculty of Energy and Power Engineering.

Authors of this project are: Doctor of Sciences (Engineering), Professor at the Automobile and Tractor Faculty’s Department of Wheel and Caterpillar Vehicles, Sergey Kondakov, students of group AT-403, Aleksey Larin, and postgraduate student of the Automobile and Tractor Faculty, Grigoriy Salimonenko. 8 Bachelor’s degree students of the Institute of Engineering and Technology’s Faculty of Energy and Power Engineering, who are undertaking elite training by the 2nd format (the form of elective courses), took part in the project. These students are: D. Podberezko, D. Guryanov, V. Ustimenko, A. Aleksandrov, M. Barannikov, G. Gontarev, V. Batuev and A. Kuleshov. Another participants of the project are: Master’s degree student, I. Chuiduk and Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering at the Institute of Engineering and Technology’s Faculty of Energy and Power Engineering, Doctor of Sciences (Engineering), Sergey Gandzha.

The main goal of project-based learning is training of high-level specialists for leading Russian enterprises. This goal can only be achieved if students in the process of their training get involved in working over innovative, knowledge-intensive projects.

“Elite education presumes training of specialists of very high qualification, and here we can’t manage without profound study of certain disciplines, including the fundamental ones, for example, a more detailed study of Mathematics, Physics and Economy. Knowledge acquired in the course of elite training allows efficiently working in such projects. Having gotten employed to an industry, alumni will be able to solve engineering problems of any difficulty in various spheres of activity,” says Deputy Director of the Elite Education Centre, Elena Kurkina.

Before they began working on the project, students undertook a profound fundamental training in Mathematics, Physics, TIPS, English Language and Economics. During the second stage, students had been studying profession-related subjects in order tp master such software as Ansys Ekectroniсs Desktop, Ansys Electroniсs Citrix, Solidworks and Kompas. This software is the main tool for carrying out this research work. They had been studying using resources of the SUSU Supercomputer. As a result, students performed complex electromagnetic calculations, elaborated an electronic three-dimensional digital model, compiled an album of engineering drawings for construction of the mockup sample. Using these drawings and 3D printer, they detail-after-detail produced and assembled plastic in-scale model of the wheel hub motor. The model proved constructability of this device and correctness of the main engineering solutions.

One of the developers was student of SUSU Institute of Engineering and Technology’s Faculty of Energy and Power Engineering, Maksim Barannikov. From the very first day of classes, he started attending courses at the Elite Education Centre, where in the course of project-based learning he and the other students developed the wheel hub motor.

“Initially, we were taught to work with special engineering software. Mastering this software was difficult but interesting. At that stage, we practically created our own device, but not the real one, just its digital twin. I think there is a big potential in computer simulation, which will come in handy for the entire country. It allows saving a lot of time and material resources. After that, we made drawings, and then we assembled the wheel hub motor which had already been palpable. Training at such a level is probably very expensive, but at the university we acquired these skills in the frameworks of our project-based learning,” says Maksin Barannikov.

Project-based learning of the elite training group goes on. Presently, organisational issues are being handled to produce a full-scale mockup sample in order to conduct bench tests. The full volume of work on the project is scheduled to be finished by May of 2020, by the moment of the Bachelor’s degree students’ graduation.

Wheel hub motor is a combination of a unique electric machinery and a unique planetary reduction gear with bilateral planetary pinions. It is planned to be tested on the electric race car which is being prepared to take part in Formula Student international competition. The purpose of this competition is to form engineering type of thinking among students and bring up specialists who are capable of fulfilling creative mission assignments. Students of the Institute of Engineering and Technology are planning to present their invention in its final variant at this competition.

Marina Kovyazina; photo by: Oleg Igoshin
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