The U.S. Department of Energy has 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% of the electricity consumed by U.S. manufacturers and nearly a quarter of all electricity consumed nationally.
“Advancing these enabling technologies has the potential to boost the competitiveness of American manufacturers and take the development of more efficient electric machines a giant step further,” said Mark Johnson, director of the EERE Advanced Manufacturing Office. “These technology R&D projects aim to significantly improve industrial motors for manufacturing, helping companies who use these motors in manufacturing save energy and money over the long run.”
Improvements to these systems can be achieved by using key enabling technologies such as wide bandgap 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 nanomaterials research, new highly siliconized steel manufacturing processes, and improved performance of high temperature superconductors—all representing potentially economical solutions for next generation electric machines.
Each of the 13 projects have 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.
The 13 projects selected for awards are led by:
- AK Steel Corporation Research & Innovation
- American Superconductor Corporation
- Carnegie Mellon University
- Florida State University
- General Electric Company, GE Global Research
- NovaTorque, Inc.
- Purdue University
- Rice University
- Rochester Institute of Technology
- Superconductor Technologies Incorporated
- SurfTec, LLC
- University of Central Florida
- University of Houston
Read more about the individual projects.