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Micromobility: An exciting and sustainable transport solution

In the face of new technologies and the continuous quest for sustainability, the transportation landscape is ever evolving. David Latimer, CEO of Magnomatics, looks at the increasing shift to micromobility and highlights the role innovative magnetically geared motors play in this growing market.

As congestion in cities continue to rise, people have been seeking alternative and more sustainable methods of transportation. In particular, there has been an explosion in the popularity of lightweight electric vehicles (LEVs) – or micromobility solutions – such as e-bicycles and e-scooters around the world.

The popularity of micromobility solutions is seen as a reflection of the increasing recognition that cars and other vehicles have adverse impacts on the health and quality of life of city dwellers, particularly in terms of congestion, air quality, and noise pollution.

Additionally, they provide a practical and popular answer to the perennial first-and-last-mile need, thus holding the promise of being able to fill gaps in public transport routes.

One of the key drivers for the adoption of micromobility solutions, however, is that they boast substantial environmental benefits.

Micromobility and the environment

Road transportation is one of the biggest contributors to carbon emissions in cities – in 2019, transport was responsible for 122 metric tons of the 455 metric tons of CO2 emissions produced in the UK.

LEVs have great potential to significantly reduce CO2 emissions from the transport sector as their increased adoption means fewer vehicles that emit smoke, carbon, and other harmful gases. In fact, a study by shared e-scooter platform Lime found that using e-scooters in Paris for a year helped save over 330 metric tons of carbon emissions in the city.

Additionally, LEVs not only reduce CO2 emission levels because of their electric propulsion systems, but they also require less energy because they are smaller and lighter. This means that they can function with smaller batteries, and they require fewer raw materials for production. All in all, they are more sustainable throughout their lifecycle than other transport options without sacrificing individual mobility.

Assessing LEV efficiency

transport and sustainability concept – electric scooter parking and charging station in city

While traditional micromobility solutions such as conventional bicycles have been used for decades, the primary factor behind the current micromobility trend is electrification. Thanks to advances in technology, complete electric powertrains can be easily integrated into micromobility platforms.

The question, however, is whether LEVs are efficient? For many e-bicycles and e-scooters, powertrains have already become commodities. In this instance the priority is cost, not efficiency. However, low efficiency reduces payload and range, which means more charging, which is the opposite of the objective of introducing LEVs in the first place, namely lower energy use.

Reliable motors, in particular innovative magnetically geared motors, are a key enabling technology for micromobility to ensure efficiency. Magnomatics’ revolutionary magnetic gears have been implemented in a range of innovative industry solutions and, having achieved success at large scale the company has turned its attention to much smaller machines, including drives for eVTOL aircraft for urban air mobility and for personal micromobility vehicles such as e-scooters and e-bicycles.

The company’s patented Pseudo Direct Drive (PDD) consists of a magnetic gear mounted inside a stator. The outer magnetics of the magnetic gear are attached to the inner bore of the stator, and copper windings in the stator are used to drive the inner rotor of the magnetic gear.

This is a relatively high-speed electric motor with a relatively low load, which results in low currents and hence, low temperatures. This in turn brings great efficiency, long life, and prevents demagnetisation of the outer magnet array. The torque in the inner rotor is then geared up in the novel polepiece rotor, typically by between 5 and 10:1. The result is a very compact and highly efficient electric motor, which is perfect for micromobility vehicles.

The benefits of innovative magnetically geared motors such as PDD against conventional generator technology, particularly for LEVs, are drastic reductions in motor size, no minimum cooling requirements, and reduced maintenance requirements. Ultimately, the lower mass and compactness of the PDD generator, when combined with partial load superior efficiency, low speed, high torque technology and improved reliability, makes it ideal for meeting the requirements of the broad range of new LEVs being developed.

Sustainable transport solutions

Micromobility solutions are becoming an increasingly exciting option in the search for sustainable transport solutions – not only do they decrease emissions and pollution, but they are also cost-effective, and they provide people with more accessible and versatile modes of transportation.

As developments in this space continue to gain momentum, using innovative magnetically geared motors will be a key differentiator in ensuring efficient, reliable, and sustainable micromobility solutions.

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