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AK Steel gets $1.8M award to develop next generation electrical steels

AK Steel has accepted an award of up to $1.8 million from the U.S. Department of Energy under the Advanced Manufacturing Office’s Next Generation Electric Machines program to develop the next generation of advanced, non-oriented electrical steels (NOES) for motors used in a wide variety of industrial and automotive applications, including hybrid electric vehicles.

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The three-year project will be conducted in collaboration with the Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Power Electronics and Electric Machinery Research Center, and Regal Beloit Corporation, a leading manufacturer of electric motors and motion control products.

The objective of the project is to develop an innovative motor design with high-alloy NOES that will achieve an efficiency improvement of more than 30% when compared to existing motor designs with NOES products.

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“We are honored to have been selected by the Energy Department for this initiative to push the boundaries of electrical steel technology,” said AK Steel CEO Roger Newport. “Product and process innovation is a hallmark of our company, and we look forward to collaborating with some of the brightest minds in the industry to take electric motor performance to the next level.”

AK Steel invented electrical steels more than 100 years ago, and today remains one of the leading worldwide producers of this highly-specialized product. These steels include both NOES for electric generators and motors, as well as grain-oriented electrical steels for power and distribution transformers.

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While DOE’s NGEM program targets a vast array of industrial motors, pumps, and generators, hybrid electric vehicles represent the fastest growing market for NOES. Many of the motors used in hybrid electric vehicles being sold in the U.S. today are imported from foreign suppliers, but a trend toward local sourcing and manufacturing is underway.

“For the past several years, we have been working closely with several worldwide leaders in the development of hybrid electric vehicles,” said Eric Petersen, vice president Research and Innovation, AK Steel. “The reaction to prototype samples of our DI-MAX HF-10X NOES product has been outstanding, and we are currently providing these OEMs with additional material for qualification. The upcoming DOE NGEM project will build upon this strong foundation, allowing for the most efficient motor designs available in the world.”

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