Characterization of Contact and Bulk Thermal Resistance of Laminations for Electric Machines: NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

Research output: NRELPresentation


Thermal management for electric motors is important as the automotive industry continues to transition to more electrically dominant vehicle propulsion systems. The transition to more electrically dominant propulsion systems leads to higher-power duty cycles for electric-drive systems. Thermal constraints place significant limitations on how electric motors ultimately perform. As thermal management improves, there will be a direct trade-off among motor performance, efficiency, cost, and the sizing of electric motors to operate within the thermal constraints. During the development of thermal finite element analysis models and computational fluid dynamics models for electric motors, it was found that there was a lack of open literature detailing the thermal properties of key materials common in electric motors that are significant in terms of heat removal. The lack of available literature, coupled with the strong interest from industry in the passive-stack thermal measurement results, led to experiments to characterize the thermal contact resistance between motor laminations. We examined four lamination materials, including the commonly used 26 gauge and 29 gauge M19 materials, the HF10 and Arnon 7 materials. These latter two materials are thinner and reduce eddy currents responsible for core losses. We measured the thermal conductivity of the lamination materials and the thermal contact resistance between laminations in a stack, as well as investigated factors affecting contact resistance between laminations such as the contact pressure and surface finish. Lamination property data will be provided and we also develop a model to estimate the through-stack thermal conductivity for materials beyond those that were directly tested in this work. For example, at a clamping pressure of 138 kPa, the 29 gauge M19 material has a through-stack thermal conductivity of 1.68 W/m-K, and the contact resistance between laminations was measured to be 193 mm^2-K/W. The measured bulk thermal conductivity for the M19 29 gauge material is 21.0 W/m-K. Density and specific heat were measured to be 7450 kg/m^3 and 463 J/kg-K, respectively. These results are helping, and will continue to help engineers and researchers in the design and development of motors.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2015

Publication series

NamePresented at the International Technical Conference and Exhibition on Packaging (InterPACK) 2015, 6-9 June 2015, San Francisco, California

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5400-63864


  • EE
  • EE
  • electric motors
  • electric vehicles
  • energy efficiency
  • stators
  • thermal conductivity
  • thermal contact resistance


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