SAF’s rare earth-free electric axle

By Categories: Commercial NewsPublished On: Wednesday 22 June 2022

A collaboration between SAF-Holland and British motor manufacturer AEM (Advanced Electric Machines) will deliver more sustainable solutions for future commercial vehicles, according to IMS UK, part of the SAF-Holland group.

SAF-Holland and AEM are working together on the suspension specialist’s electric axle system: AEM is supplying an innovative electric motor for the SAF Trakr regenerative braking axle that does not require any rare earth or copper.

“Rare earths are valuable raw materials that are only used in very small quantities, for example in notebooks, smartphones or even electric motors,” said IMS.

“The extraction of these special metals places a huge burden on the environment: each tonne of extracted rare earth material produces high amounts of toxic and corrosive waste gases such as sulphur dioxide as well as acidic waste water.

“Thanks to a patented technology, AEM’s HDSRM150 machine is completely free of rare earth elements, such as the chemical elements neodymium and dysprosium. Moreover, AEM is aiming to replace the copper windings with aluminium to improve recyclability. Furthermore, the absence of copper makes the motor lighter without reducing overall efficiency.”

This sustainably produced electric motor is installed in the new SAF Trakr electric axle, IMS explains.

It uses recuperation, which converts the vehicle’s kinetic energy into electrical energy. This is temporarily stored in a lithium-ion battery and then used for auxiliary units in the trailer, such as pumps or cooling systems. Recuperation as an additional source of power generation is said to save fuel, while reducing noise and exhaust emissions from the vehicle.

“Every litre of diesel saved counts – which is why we developed the SAF Trakr to electrify commercial vehicle trailers and reduce the load on the tractor unit,” said Olaf Drewes, director, group innovation EMEA at SAF-Holland.

“AEM’s HDSMR150 machine is perfect for the job as it is powerful, efficient, yet also as sustainable as possible.”

For James Widmer, CEO of AEM, the collaboration is a significant step forward.

“SAF-Holland is undeniably one of the leading commercial vehicle suppliers in the world, and we are delighted to be working with them,” he said.

“The signed Memorandum of Understanding is an important milestone for AEM as we look to further expand our business in order to make the world’s most sustainable electric motors available to Tier 1 and trailer manufacturers.”