How Monumo's deeptech-generated design is transforming electric motor design

Monumo emerges from stealth with a new approach to electric motor design. Their patented technology reduces torque ripple by 50% and reduces the need for rare earth magnets.
How Monumo's deeptech-generated design  is transforming electric motor design

This weekMonumo, a company with a world-first approach to redesigning electric motors, emerged from stealth, announcing it had raised a £10.5 million seed round from angel investors.

The company's patented technology has already produced a deeptech-generated design for a switched reluctance motor, which reduces torque ripple by 50 per cent across the drive cycle, making it significantly smoother and quieter. 

Founded in 2021, the Cambridge and Coventry-based startup is led by CEO and founder Dominic Vergine, a serial entrepreneur and former VP of Sustainability at Arm, and CTO Jaroslaw Rzepecki, PhD, who previously held software engineering positions at Siemens, Microsoft Research and Arm.  

I spoke to Vergine to find out more.

Vergine shared that the idea for Monumono spun out of a desire for system-level optimisation:

"I've been looking at various aspects of system level optimisation, not just in technology, but in other areas as well, whilst working in Sustainability at Arm. We also looked at electric motors as part of my role. 

A couple of things struck me. Firstly, their centrality — they use around 50 per cent of the world's electricity and are set to rise a lot. So they really do have to be as good as they can be. 

Secondly, the way electric motors are designed in silos."

Electric motors involve a range of elements, including the motor design, cooling, inverter, battery management, and transmission. Whilst all need to work interoperably, they are all designed separately. 

"That's how all the engineering companies and the OEMs work. Because no tools have been available that cross those different sectors and component parts."

In response, Monumo has developed proprietary tech with a design simulation, optimisation, and prototype framework. Through its unique combination of AI, ML and motor design ability, 

Monumo's proprietary technology runs around 10 million simulations per day to test potential iterations of the motor design. In turn, the platform can identify the optimal parameters for the specific use case, whether that is reducing cost, creating efficiencies or improving sustainability. 

Traditional approaches built on legacy software only enable about 50,000 simulations in a day.

Vergine shared that Monumo's software is "allowing us to get extraordinary numbers of simulations to start exploring every possible combination, wave form, shape, and component design. And that is leading to very significant improvements." 

Monumo's technology ensures new motor designs are cost-effective, efficient and optimised sustainably, for example, removing the rare earth magnets found in 80 percent of EV motors. 

Rare earth magnets are strong permanent magnets made from alloys of rare-earth elements. They were developed in the 1970s and 1980s and are the strongest type of permanent magnets.

However, rare earth mining is associated with environmental degradation, toxic wastewater and energy-intensive processing. The materials extracted to make these magnets are often laced with radioactive materials such as thorium.

Further, separating the materials requires huge amounts of toxic materials like sulphate, ammonia and hydrochloric acid. There's also the issue of disposal of end of life engine disposal. 

While a number of OEMs have made progress in reducing rare earth metal consumption in their motors, overall, there has been a shift to rare earth-based motor technology, reflecting the dominance of rare earth-based technologies in the Chinese EV market. 

The company predicts that its technology, which could eliminate rare earth metals from motor magnets and improve vehicle efficiency, would deliver significant further sustainability benefits. I-

f adopted across motor verticals by 2040, by 2050, approximate emissions savings would be equivalent to removing the annual CO2 emissions of Germany and France combined. A further 28 billion m3 of mining waste could be saved – enough to cover California and Texas with 2cm of waste. 

The company is currently focused on motor design, specifically two and three-wheel vehicles, although Verdine explained.:

"We're really fairly agnostic over what type of motor it is.

The big difference between what we're doing and most motor companies is that we don't have just a single idea for a new type of electric blueprint, we are applying our deep tech AI to improve any type of electric motor." 

Futher, the company's simulations have relevance to other applications at scale. 

"It's a massive exploration of that design space, which hasn't been possible. We haven't had the speed or the capability to really explore this in the past.  

This is something that's very exciting for the future of invention. Because the ability to really explore what's possible within the laws of physics, for any engineering, will allow us to come up with new ways of doing things that hadn't been thought about before. 

 Verdine predicts that with its application of AI and design engineering, the company will be able to deliberately explore invention, rather than relying on either incremental improvements or accidental eureka moments." 

Monumo aims to extend its focus next to transmission and battery management. It's also focusing on 3d modelling. 

Verdine explained:

"It's typically not possible to optimise your motors in 3D. You can create a model, but it requires too much compute power and too much time to actually explore 3D."

But Monumo's advancing capabilities will assist with improved design optimisation through 3D.

"So that's very exciting because there are no companies currently which have 3D capabilities."

The company is also working on enhancing SRM prototype, hoping to start licensing in 2025.

Monumo has attracted interest from multiple OEMs and tier-one engineering companies interested in design and licensing, with whom it has signed numerous NDAs.

While currently focused on electric engine design, Verdine sees the opportunity to extend its design tech to other engineering, in effect creating a new sector "because of the benefits and opportunities it can bring to hundreds of companies and products around the world". 

"When we start seeing AI as a tool that actually helps advance human ability rather than just match human ability, then it's going to get really, really interesting.

Appropriately focused, it can be a major part of helping us overcome the climate crisis and decarbonisation much faster. 

Image: Monumo CEO and founder Dominic Vergine. Photo: uncredited. 

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