Today’s Solutions: October 19, 2021

The age of the electric vehicle is upon us, but with this new era comes a learning curve as we figure out how electric motors function over time. While many studies show that electric cars require less maintenance than their gas-powered counterparts, they are still prone to wear and tear.

Electric motors in vehicles and other devices require tightly wound copper wires that are coated in an insulating resin. Exposure to the heat produced by the motor weakens the resin until eventually, it crumbles and fails, leading to a breakdown of the motor. Until recently, there was no accessible way of gauging the resin’s state of degradation, which meant that drivers would be surprised by roadside breakdowns, or mechanics may insist on prematurely replacing motors based on a loose estimate of their lifespan.

Fortunately, a study conducted by scientists from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in Germany in collaboration with the Elantas insulating materials company discovered that special dyes can be used to alert drivers and mechanics when it’s time to service or replace electric motors.

Their research reveals that four commonly used resins all gradually release a specific type of alcohol in response to heat, and when exposed to various dyes that bind with this alcohol will turn from a reddish-orange glow to a fluorescent green under ultraviolet light. The higher the quantity of alcohol, the more vibrantly the green will fluoresce.

This discovery means that electric motors can soon be equipped with resin containing the dye and a compact optical reader that will make regular checks on the state of the resin. If the resin is reaching an alarming point of degradation, the owner of the vehicle can be warned to address the issue, avoiding unnecessary waste as well as accidents or inconveniences on the road.

Source study: Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

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