Advanced bearing technology for electric vehicles

16th May 2019
Posted By : Alex Lynn
Advanced bearing technology for electric vehicles

At the upcoming 32nd International Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS 32) on 19th to 22nd May 2019, SKF is set to reveal its latest developments for improving the efficiency of electric powertrains. Sales of electric vehicles (EVs) are poised to increase dramatically. According to a recent report from IHS Market, these vehicles will account for more than 30% of new cars sold in key markets by 2040, up from just one percent in 2016.

Anthony Simonin, EV and HEV Competence Centre Manager at SKF, said: “In order for these vehicles to work efficiently, the motors that drive them must run at very high speeds, up to 30,000rpm, or three times the speed of typical industrial motor, which places enormous strain on the bearings they employ.”

On SKF's booth (E25) at EVS 32, the company will show its latest developments for overcoming this issue. SKF will present new designs for bearings and their associated polymer cages that ensure they can withstand the higher speeds, acceleration and temperatures generated by these motors, and lubricants that are able to maintain their effectiveness under these conditions. 

Furthermore, SKF will highlight its insulating solutions that are immune to the current leakage, caused by the high-frequency voltage switching of the inverter, that occurs when electric motors run at high speeds. This current leakage can cause pitting on the surfaces of conventional electrically conductive steel bearings, which can lead to catastrophic failure. 

Made of naturally insulating ceramics, SKF's hybrid bearings negate this issue. These bearings are 40% less dense than steel equivalents (enabling them to run at cooler temperatures), have ten times the service life and require less lubrication.

Simonin explained: “SKF is also working on another solution to the problem of current leakage that promises to be more cost-effective than the use of hybrid bearings, further details of which we will share together with new developments around conductivity at EVS 32.” 

SKF will also exhibit low-friction tapered roller bearings (TRBs) for use in automotive powertrains that reduce power losses caused by friction by around 50% in comparison with conventional TRBs

Finally, experts from SKF will be available to discuss the company's broad range of existing bearing solutions for hybrid and fully electric powertrains.

Simonin concluded: "EVs are the future. Though they currently account for a relatively small part of the market, making them as efficient and reliable as possible through the design of components, such as bearings, will vital as they take a larger share."

EVS 32 will be held in Lyon, France, on 19th to 22nd May 2019. SKF will be exhibiting at booth E25.

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