The U.S. Department of Energy announced nearly $25 million for 13 projects aimed at advancing technologies for energy-efficient electric motors through applied research and development. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's (EERE) Next Generation Electric Machines projects will address the limitations of traditional materials and designs used in electric motor components by cost-effectively enhancing their efficiency, improving their performance, and reducing weight. This effort will support innovative approaches that will significantly improve the technology in industrial electric motors, which use approximately 70 percent of the electricity consumed by U.S. manufacturers and nearly a quarter of all electricity consumed nationally.
Improvements to these systems can be achieved by using key enabling technologies such as wide band gap semiconductor devices, advanced magnetic materials, aggressive cooling techniques, and improved conductors or superconducting materials. In addition, these projects will leverage recent technical advances made in nanomaterial’s research, new highly siliconized steel manufacturing processes, and improved performance of high temperature super-conductors—all representing potentially economical solutions for next generation electric machines.
Each of the 13 projects has been selected to address one of four topic areas identified by EERE's Advanced Manufacturing Office:
- Manufacturing of high performance thermal and electrical conductors
- Manufacturing of low-loss silicon steel
- High temperature superconducting wire manufacturing
- Manufacturing of other enabling technologies to increase performance.
In addition, these enabling technologies will improve motors used in the growing clean energy sector, helping wind, solar, electric vehicle, and battery manufacturers. The projects also encourage research, development, and deployment of advanced magnets, high frequency insulation materials, and lead-free, low-loss bearing technologies that are critical for high speed electric motors. (Source: TED Magazine)