Chicago startup pioneers electric motors free of rare earth metals

Chicago startup HEVT (Hybrid Electric Vehicle Technologies) is on the brink of commercializing a new type of electric motor which unlike its conventional predecessors does not require the usage of rare earth metals.

Gigaom reports that the HEVT, which recently won $250,000 of seed capital in the national Cleantech competition, hopes to debut the new motors on the market via electric bicycles.

The company has already received orders and letters of intent from potential customers for around 7,000 electric motors, and hopes to scale up production soon with the assistance of early bird clients.

HEVT’s new motors are high-performance “switched reluctance” models which resolve the noise and vibration issues that have previously impeded commercialization. The switched reluctance motors do not require rare earth elements for production as do standard induction and magnet motors.

Access to rare earth supplies has become a critical political issue of late, as China currently controls 95% of global production and has shown itself inclined to curb export volumes during disputes with economic rivals.

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