Fall 2023 Cycle

Bearing Unit with Wireless Power Transfer with SKF

Electric vehicles
Power transfer
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SKF is a world leader in rolling bearings and related technologies, committed to offering products at the forefront of innovation while supporting clean solutions in the industry. As part of this commitment, SKF is seeking a solution to address the drawbacks associated with current methods of transmitting electrical energy to the rotating shaft of Separately/Externally Excited Synchronous Motors, used in electric vehicles. The current technology using carbon brushes faces reliability issues and speed limitations in oil-cooled machines, which represents one of the trending developments of the EV market.

Opportunity Overview

Separately Excited Synchronous Motor (SESM) technology, while representing less than 5% of the EV market as of now, offers substantial advantages in reducing CO2 emissions through using less raw materials. In fact, SESMs do not require any rare-earth magnets and are thus a more sustainable and reliable motor option.

The key to increasing the adoption of SESMs lies in developing a high-speed and reliable electric connection between the rotating shaft and the power electronics of the motor, eliminating the drawbacks associated with traditional carbon brush-sticks. High-speed seals are necessary for the brush to work properly, and this would increase the cost, risk of failures and friction which in turn hinders its broader adoption in the EV market. The proposed solution involves a bearing unit that serves as a stiff and precise rotating element facilitating wireless power transmission from the electronics to the rotating shaft.

A module that can be attached to a bearing or bearing assembly needs to be developed. SKF can provide bearing units or arrangement allowing an optimal mechanical precision and stiffness to position components close to each other which is a key feature for an efficient wireless power transfer. The automotive industry is cost-sensitive, so scalability in terms of volume and providing enough value to justify the extra cost on the component are crucial considerations. This innovative solution would align with SKF's strategy of providing engineered solutions with specific value, positioning the product as more than just a commodity. Additionally, achieving a better CO2 footprint and reducing dependency on magnet procurement aligns with SKF’s sustainability targets and potential future legislation.

engineers around a power transfer module
Engineer with industrial pump testing rig

Summary of Requested Solution

The ideal solution should provide a high-speed and reliable electric connection between the rotating shaft and the power electronics of SESMs. It should eliminate the need for traditional carbon brush-sticks, resulting in a more dependable and potentially cost-effective solution at the system level. By utilizing technologies such as inductive or capacitive power transfer as well as other out-of-the-box concepts such as conductive fluids, the solution could enable wireless power transmission in a more reliable and efficient manner. This wireless power transmission bearing unit, that is, one or several bearings in a specific arrangement, should be designed to be easily integrated into SESMs without compromising the size of the system. It should be capable of withstanding the demanding conditions of EV applications and the solution should deliver seamless energy transfer, ensuring optimal performance and efficiency of the SESM throughout its operational lifespan.

Your Opportunity with SKF

SKF is the world's largest bearing manufacturer, with 17,000 distributors in 129 countries. SKF has been a pioneer and is today one of the leaders in providing bearing solutions for EV Powertrains. As sustainability becomes increasingly critical for the automotive industry, the potential partnership presents an opportunity to contribute to a greener future while also expanding your company's market presence and industry knowledge. By revolutionizing rotation for EVs and supporting SKF's clean solutions strategy, your company can play a role in shaping the future of electric mobility while benefiting from the growth opportunities it presents.

Focus Areas

Examples of solutions we’re interested in

Inductive & Capacitive Power Transfer

Inductive or capacitive technology that will enable the wireless power transmission between the rotating shaft and the power electronics of the motor can be the key to replacing the current carbon brush-based system. The solution would utilize the benefits of the bearing features such as mechanical accuracy and stiffness.

Conductive Fluids

A less conventional approach could be the use of fluids with high electrical conductivity that can facilitate the transmission of electrical energy wirelessly have potential applications in various fields, such as in powering the bearing units in connection to SESMs in EVs.

Submit your solution

Take your first step in signing your new partnership. Get in touch by October 8th!

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