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Revolution or spin?

We love new products at EPA, and nothing gets us going more than hearing something is either the biggest, smallest or most powerful. So I was intrigued to read this week that inventor supremo, Sir James Dyson, has been in his shed again and come up with the world’s fastest motor. The interesting thing is that it hasn’t beaten the previous incumbent by a couple of rpm, apparently this is the fastest by a considerable distance…

The new motor has been designed to be used with a new Dyson vacuum cleaner, The DC31, and is capable of achieving 104,000 revolutions per minute (more than double the speed of the most powerful industrial milling machine). This is made possible due to a new switched reluctance motor which has lost copper wiring and carbon brushes, making the motor lighter and more efficient than many of its rivals, so claims Dyson.

OK, so this is currently being used in a vacuum cleaner, but Mr Dyson has suggested that the innovation could find use in many varied applications. As he says: "It's radical. It's completely different technology. We are the only company in the world producing a switched reluctance motor. What's odd is that we have used it in such a prosaic product."

It’s no surprise that the words ‘electric’ and ‘car’ have quickly been attached to this motor, though Dyson himself has made no direct claims that it is on the horizon. What it does mean at the moment is a significant step forward for handheld devices, due to the weight and efficiency improvements.

I’ve got a lot of time for James Dyson, he’s been a great figurehead for British engineering over the past couple of decades and he’s also put in a huge amount of effort into promoting the education of engineering to youngsters. But I’m also aware his marketing and PR machine is well-honed. So what do you think of this new motor: a great innovation or a great headline grabber?

Richard Scott

Your Comments:

Dear Richard,

I have just seen your article on James Dysons high speed SR motor and was a little surprised when I read:

‘It's completely different technology. We are the only company in the world producing a switched reluctance motor.’

Switched reluctance technology was developed 30 years ago at Leeds University, I know because I was there at the time. It has been exploited commercially ever since by a company called ‘SR Drives’ who are now based in Harrogate (checkout their website). It is difficult to imagine that James Dyson would not be aware of this. Am I missing something here ?


David Chatwin

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