Replacing Copper with New Carbon Nanomaterials in Electrical Machine Windings
Electrical machines have significant improvement potential. Nevertheless, the field is characterized by incremental innovations. Admittedly, steady improvement has been achieved, but no breakthrough development. Radical development in the field would require the introduction of new elements, such that may change the whole electrical machine industry system. Recent technological advancements in nanomaterials have opened up new horizons for the macroscopic application of carbon nanotube (CNT) fibres. With values of 100 MS/m measured on individual CNTs, CNT fibre materials hold promise for conductivities far beyond those of metals. Highly conductive, lightweight and strong CNT yarn is finally within reach; it could replace copper as a potentially better winding material. Although not yet providing low resistivity, the newest CNT yarn offers attractive perspectives for accelerated efficiency improvement of electrical machines. In this article, the potential for using new CNT materials to replace copper in machine windings is introduced. It does so, firstly, by describing the environment for a change that could revolutionize the industry and, secondly, by presenting the breakthrough results of a prototype construction. In the test motor, which is to our knowledge the first in its kind, the presently most electrically conductive carbon nanotube yarn replaces usual copper in the windings.
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