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RMIT student wins James Dyson Award for new electric motor retrofit solution 

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RMIT University Sustainable Systems Engineering and Industrial Design student Alexander Burton has been named national winner of the James Dyson Award competition for his REVR invention, a retrofit allowing the simplified conversion of an internal combustion engine car into hybrid-electric.

According to a statement from the James Dyson Foundation on Wednesday, REVR (Rapid Electric Vehicle Retrofit) “fits easily onto a car wheel, quickly and easily” converting it and addressing the “complex and hard-to-scale” issues that have prevented retrofits from large scale adoption in Australia.

The invention by the 21-year-old student includes a custom-designed, axial flux motor, designed from the ground up, mounted between the wheel and the disc brake of the vehicle, and leaving existing systems in the car fully operational. 

According to the release, a battery pack is installed in the spare wheel well of the vehicle, and a simple sensor detects the position of the accelerator pedal for acceleration and braking. 

“Replacing the entire fleet with new EVs will be too slow, too expensive and emit billions of tons of COduring their manufacture,” Burton said in a statement.

“This is a powerful electric retrofit kit that can be quickly installed in the wheels of almost any vehicle.” 

John McGarva, Head of Design Engineering and National James Dyson Award 2023 Judge, said that Burton had done “a brilliant job in packaging the motor into such a tight space” and built virtual and physical prototypes to understand the space and performance limitations involved. 

“REVR has met the James Dyson Award brief of solving a very real problem through iterative development and innovative thinking to develop a design to solve a very real problem,” added McGarva.

National runners up were Linko, a masonry construction system eliminating the need for mortar to secure bricks invented by Keagan Howell, and Coconut Circular Economy, invented by Dawei Cao, which uses coconut waste filament to create cups or other products. 

Pictures: supplied

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