DOE Offers $20M to Develop Components for Next Generation Electric Machines

March 23, 2015 By Linda Hardesty

DOE Energy ManageThe Energy Department announced up to $20 million in funding to spur the development of high speed industrial motors and drives, using high power-density designs and integrated power electronics to increase efficiency.

Replacing less efficient systems that have fixed-speed motors and gearboxes with variable-speed direct-drive motor systems and incorporating recent power electronics advances, such as wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductors, could help industry save on energy costs, according to DOE. WBG components – which control or convert electrical energy into usable power – can operate at higher temperatures, voltages, and frequencies, and are more durable and reliable than silicon-based counterparts.

The Energy Department plans to select four to six projects, through the Next Generation Electric Machines: Megawatt Class Motors funding opportunity, that demonstrate the benefits of using WBG variable-speed drives. These projects are expected to target a 30 percent reduction in system losses and a 50 percent reduction in size for megawatt-scale motor and drive systems used in the chemical and petroleum refining industries, natural gas infrastructure, and general industry compressor applications like HVAC systems, refrigeration and wastewater pumps.

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