Electric Motor Thermal Management Research: Annual Progress Report

Kevin Bennion

Research output: NRELManagement


Past work in the area of active convective cooling provided data on the average convective heat transfer coefficients of circular orifice automatic transmission fluid (ATF) jets impinging on stationary targets intended to represent the wire bundle surface of the motor end-winding. Work during FY16 focused on the impact of alternative jet geometries that could lead to improved cooling over a larger surface of the motor winding. Results show that the planar jet heat transfer coefficients over a small (12.7-mm-diameter) target surface are not too much lower than for the circular orifice jet in which all of the ATF from the jet impinges on the target surface. The planar jet has the potential to achieve higher heat transfer over a larger area of the motor end winding. A new test apparatus was constructed to measure the spatial dependence of the heat transfer relative to the jet nozzle over a larger area representative of a motor end-winding. The tested planar flow geometry has the potential to provide more uniform cooling over the full end-winding surface versus the conventional jet configuration. The data will be used by motor designers to develop thermal management strategies to improve motor power density. Work on passive thermal design in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to measure the thermal conductivity of wire bundle samples representative of end-winding and slot-winding materials was completed. Multiple measurement techniques were compared to determine which was most suitable for measuring composite wire bundle samples. NREL used a steady-state thermal resistance technique to measure the direction-dependent thermal conductivity. The work supported new interactions with industry to test new materials and reduce passive-stack thermal resistance in motors, leading to motors with increased power density. NREL collaborated with Ames Laboratory in the area of material characterization. The work focused on measuring the transverse rupture strength of new magnet materials developed at Ames. The impact of the improved transverse rupture strength is a mechanically stronger magnet that is easier for manufacturers to implement into motor designs. The thermal conductivity of the new magnet materials was also measured in comparison to two commercially available AlNiCo magnet materials. The impact of the thermal conductivity of the magnet material will need to be analyzed in the context of a motor application.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

DOE posted at https://energy.gov/eere/vehicles/downloads/electric-drive-technologies-2016-annual-progress-report

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/MP-5400-67121


  • active convective cooling
  • convective heat transfers
  • electric motor
  • material characterization
  • passive thermal design
  • thermal management


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