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This 17-Year-Old Designed a Motor That Could Potentially Transform the Electric Car Industry

by
Smithsonian Magazine
August 29, 2022
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Robert Sansone with his novel synchronous reluctance motor. Society for Science

Summary

Robert Sansone used 3D printing to design a motor that could pave the way for the sustainable manufacturing of electric vehicles that do not require the expensive, rare-earth magnets that most electric car motors require.

Robert Sansone is a natural born engineer. From animatronic hands to high-speed running boots and a go-kart that can reach speeds of more than 70 miles per hour, the Fort Pierce, Florida-based inventor estimates he’s completed at least 60 engineering projects in his spare time. And he’s only 17 years old.

A couple years ago, Sansone came across a video about the advantages and disadvantages of electric cars. The video explained that most electric car motors require magnets made from rare-earth elements, which can be costly, both financially and environmentally, to extract. The rare-earth materials needed can cost hundreds of dollars per kilogram. In comparison, copper is worth $7.83 per kilogram.

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Smithsonian Magazine
Smithsonian Magazine

Smithsonian magazine places a Smithsonian lens on the world, looking at the topics and subject matters researched, studied, and exhibited by the Smithsonian Institution—science, history, art, popular culture, and innovation—and chronicling them every day for our diverse readership.

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