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Full conductive copper, full speed electric motor ahead



An emerging process returns the highest conductivity for copper composites at massive figures. 

The researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have increased the conductivity of copper wire by approximately 5%. Higher conductivity brings less copper necessity for the same efficiency. And this can decrease components’ weight and volume. These lightweight components will power our future electric vehicles.

The laboratory teamed with General Motors for testing improved copper wire in the use of vehicle motor components. The cost of the project was shared.

The team validated the increased conductivity and found that it also has higher ductility-the ability to stretch further before breaking.

In view of other physical specs, it behaved just like regular copper to the point of welding and is open to subjection to other mechanical stresses with no performance failure. This yields that no other special manufacturing methods are required to assemble motors. The new advanced PNNL copper composite will do all.

The technology can apply to any industry using copper to move electrical energy. The spectrum includes power transmission, electronics, wireless chargers, electric motors, generators, under-sea cables, and batteries.

Darrell Herling at PNNL Energy Processes and Materials Division said: “To further lightweight motors, advances in materials is the new paradigm. Higher conductivity copper could be a disruptive approach to lightweight and/or increasing efficiency for any electric motor or wireless vehicle charging system”.

General Motors Research and Development engineers confirmed that the high conductivity copper wire can be welded, brazed, and formed the same as conventional copper wire. This points to smooth integration with existing motor manufacturing pipelines.