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Digital technology will cut energy used by fixed-speed motors

01 July, 2006

Digital technology will cut energy used by fixed-speed motors

A US company has built a prototype digital controller designed to cut energy consumption by motors operating at a constant speed. The Las Vegas-based Power Efficiency Corporation, which already manufactures other energy-saving devices, has filed a provisional patent for the new technology and hopes to put it into production early next year.

"Our technology attacks the energy wasted by motors in a way that industry has ignored - by controlling the current and voltage provided to the motor when it is operating at low loads and operating very inefficiently," explains PEC`s chairman and chief executive, Steven Strasser. He points out that motors operating at low loads can waste more than half of the energy they consume.

The provisional patent covers software and algorithms developed by PEC over the past year. Further patent applications covering other aspects of the technology are planned. The prototype single-phase controller based on the technology also acts as a soft-start.

The technology will form the basis for future PEC products which could incorporate other functions, such as the abilities to quantify the savings being made and to perform predictive maintenance on the motors.

As well as selling its own energy-saving controllers under the Power Genius brand, PEC hopes to licence the new technology to other manufacturers for use in products such as soft-starts, appliances, and power tools.

"This technology will improve the efficiency of electric motors running in all kinds of equipment in commercial buildings, industrial facilities and appliances, throughout the world," Strasser predicts.

PEC`s long-term aim is "to control and leverage the intellectual property around this critical energy-saving technology," he adds. "We can then manufacture private-label products for other companies - as we are doing now for Kone and Otis - or licence the technology to manufacturers".

PEC`s existing products are based on patented improvements to an energy-saving technology originally developed by NASA. They are aimed at motors used in applications such as escalators, lifts, grinders, mixers and saw mills, and are claimed to cut energy usage by 20-40%, and sometimes as much as 45%. The devices operate by allocating power in proportion to the motor`s workload.




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