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Published by: PANNERSELVAM on Jul 15, 2012
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Development of a Contactless Hall effect torque sensor forElectric Power Steering
Moving Magnet Technologies S.A.
Moving Magnet Technologies S.A.
Copyright © 2005 SAE International
In this paper, we will present an innovative torque sensor design which could be preferably used in Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) application. This torque sensor is a non-contact Hall effect design. The specificity of this structure is its ability to measure the shift angle between two rotating shafts linked by a torsion bar. This measurement is done with stationary electronic components. This unique structure generates enough magnetic flux variation to measure angular shifts from +/-1° to +/-8° with low-cost standard Hall ASICs available from various suppliers. This torque sensor has convinced automotive industry due to its good performances, its compact dimension and a price compatible with the market expectation for this application.This paper will explain the basic magnetic principle of this torque sensor, the improvements which have lead to a structure compatible with automotive industry requirements, some measurement results and possible sensor integration in the application.
Nowadays, for cost and pollution reasons, thedevelopment of new vehicles is strongly driven by aresearch of fuel consumption reduction. One interestingway for such fuel economies is the replacement ofcurrent hydraulic power steering by EPAS using highpower Brushless DC (BLDC) motors. The typical fueleconomy realized by shifting from a hydraulic powersteering to an EPAS is about 5 percent. With theimprovement of the BLDC motor structures and theincrease of the electric power available with batteries,the market shares of EPAS should grow quickly in thenext few years [1].In order to drive efficiently the BLDC motor, the ECUrequires accurate information on the torque applied bythe driver to the steering wheel. This torque signalusually comes from the shift measurement between twoshafts linked by a linear torsion bar. The main concern inthis measurement is due to the fact that these shafts arealso rotating with the steering wheel and the integrationof electronic on rotating parts is definitely a blockingpoint. An example of BLDC motor and torque sensortypical integration on the steering column is shown onthe following drawing. The BLDC exerts its torque to thesteering column through a worm gear mechanism.
Figure 1: Electric Power Steering
Moving Magnet Technologies (MMT) has developed aninnovative low cost structure answering all therequirements of torque sensing for EPAS. This torquesensor is based on a non-contact Hall effect principleand uses standard programmable Hall ASICs availableon the market. MMT has applied for two patentsregarding first a basic structure of this torque sensor andthen an optimized design [2] [3]. These torque sensordesigns are presented hereafter.
Torque sensorhousingBLDC motor
The MMT torque sensor basic structure is shownhereafter.
Figure 2: Exploded view of the MMT torque sensor
This sensor is made up of the following sub-assemblies:
The rotor (grey and red parts), fixed on onerotary shaft of the steering column, is made by aplurality of permanent magnets fixed on a softferro-magnetic yoke.
The stators (blue and yellow parts) are fixed onthe second rotary shaft of the steering column,linked to the first one by a torsion bar. Thesestators are fixed one toward the other. They aremade of soft ferro-magnetic material.
One or two (for redundancy) Hall ASICs fixedstationary on the housing. The Hall probe isinserted in a measurement slot created betweenthe two stators. With the MMT design, wegenerate enough flux variation to use the HallASICs available from Melexis (MLX 90251 orredundant MLX 90277) or Micronas (HAL 8XX).The following figure shows the sensor in a workingconfiguration.
Figure 3: MMT torque sensor basic structure
On these two first views of the torque sensor, the rotor isrealized with magnets of the same polarity (red parts)alternated with ferro-magnetic areas from the yoke. Thismagnet configuration could be replaced by a moreindustrial ring magnet with alternated north and southpoles on its surface as shown below.
Figure 4: Rotor made with multipolar ring magnet
One couple of north and south poles of the magnet isassociated to one tooth on each stator to create anelementary sensor as shown below.
Figure 5: View of an elementary sensor in abeginning of the stroke position with flux lines
A magnetic flux variation is generated in the stator teethwhen the magnet transitions are moving in front of them.This flux variation is a linear function of the magnetangular position and we have demonstrated thefollowing analytical equation:
 H  . E . . Da . F .  L D B B
a r m
is the flux measured in the slot between twostator teeth
is the magnet remanence
is the average diameter of the air gap
L is the magnet thickness
is the angular position of the magnet transition
is the angular length of one stator teeth
F is the thickness of the slot between the twostator teeth
is the flux leakage coefficient
E is the radial air gap length
H is the teeth radial length
2 stators (ferromagnetic parts) fixed on a rotary shaft Rotor (ferro-magnetic yoke+magnets) fixed on a rotary shaft Hall probe + Electronic (fixed stationary on the housing)
Stator teeth (one of eachstator)Magnet poles of the rotor
As shown on the previous figures, in this sensor, wemultiply the number of elementary sensors in order toincrease the flux variation in the measurement slot. Theflux variations generated in each elementary sensor areintegrated in an external disc on each stator. These twodiscs create a radial measurement slot in between thestators. By design, the induction on a given radius in themeasurement slot is constant as shown on the 3Dsimulation results hereafter:
Figure 6: 3D simulation result showing the inductionin the measurement slot
MMT has demonstrated that an analytical equation ofthe flux variation in the measurement slot is:
 m a a r m
N is the number of elementary sensors
Z is the axial dimension of the permanentmagnet
is the measurement surface.MMT has also developed some rules in order to size theangular length of the stator teeth according to the stroketo measure and the diameter of the steering column onwhich we will mount the sensor.This first structure has convinced some automotivepartners of MMT with its performances and we havestarted a new development phase in order to improvethe sensor performances and use some lower-costparts.
In order to increase the flux in the measurement slot, agood solution is to collect the flux from the stator withstationary ferro-magnetic parts, and then concentratethis flux on the Hall ASIC with a reduced surfacemeasurement slot. These parts are shown in the figurebelow.
Figure 7: Flux collector/concentrator
The use of these flux collectors/concentrators allows asimplification of the stator design to L-shape stator. Theaxial collection of the magnetic flux on the stator couldbe done on the outside or the inside of the disc fluxintegrating area of the stator. Even if an outer collectionof the flux leads to a little increase of the axial length ofthe sensor, MMT strongly advises this solution. Indeed,this outer collection of the flux decreases the fluxleakage between the flux collector (18% increase on theflux variation) and the sensitivity to magnet transitionrotating in front of the Hall ASIC is also decreased.These stator modifications lead to the design in thefollowing figure.
Figure 8: MMT design with simplified stators andexternal flux collector
The second modification on the stator shape has beendone on the shape of the teeth. Indeed, in our firstdesign, the stator teeth were overlapping the magnet ontheir axial direction. In order to optimize the axialdimension of the sensor, the collection area of one stator(disc area) was axially close to the end of the teeth ofthe other stator. In this proximity area between bothstators, flux leakage was occurring. Some 3Dsimulations and prototype measurements have shownthat shortening the teeth of the stator involves anincrease of the flux variation in the measurement slotwithout any deterioration of other sensor performances.3D simulation has also shown that the closer we arefrom the stator flux integration disc area, the higher isthe induction and so the leakage from one tooth to thenext one on the other stator. In order to increase thecross section of the teeth when the flux densityincreases (decrease of the induction in the teeth), wehave designed some trapezoidal shape teeth. We havealso validated this shape modification of the teeth with3D magnetic simulations and prototype measurements.
Flux collection areaFlux concentration areas(redundant design)L-shape statorsExternal flux collection

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