Raser's Pancake Racer
If you fire up the Formula race car that Raser Technologies recently built, don't expect to hear the roar of the engine. Because there isn't one. Raser's racer instead runs solely on electric power from a bank of more than 30 12V batteries and a proprietary drive system based on an ac-induction pancake motor. In dynamometer testing, this drive system has generated as much as 420 ft-lb of torque, enough to produce 500 horsepower at 6,250 rpm. Raser even tested the car at the Grand Prix course in Monaco in early April. Later that month, at the SAE World Congress, Indy 500 winner Danny Sullivan put the car through its paces.
Yet despite its outward appearance and the company it keeps, the Raser car should not be confused with a real race car. In fact, all of its trials so far have intentionally been conducted below highway speeds. "It's not really engineered for speed," says Timothy Fehr, Raser's senior vice president and chief technologies officer. What it is engineered for is showing the world that ac-induction motors can take on pricier permanent magnet motors in transportation applications that need to pack lots of torque in a small space without turning up the heat.
And in this regard, Raser's race car serves as a powerful demonstration. According to Fehr, the 67-kg ac-induction "P2" pancake motor that powered the car has a torque density of 35 Nm/, when coupled with Raser's proprietary "Symetron" drive. "With conventional design practice, you would expect less than 25 Nm/, for an ac-induction motor," he says.
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