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In Brief
Published:  01 July, 2002

In Brief

Researchers from around Europe are collaborating on a $5.6m project to develop 3.3kV power Mosfets and Schottky diodes from silicon carbide. The three-year Escapee (Establish Silicon Carbide Applications for Power Electronics in Europe) project, led by Alstom, aims to develop rugged, devices that can operate at high temperatures in applications such as industrial drives and power conditioning, rail and marine transport, and power generation.

Siemens has developed a 730mm-diameter synchronous torque motor that can deliver a torque of up to 7.5kNm. One potential application is to drive large rotary tables and indexers. The high torque rating is achieved partly though the use of an efficient "Thermosandwich" cooling system. Smaller versions (up to 310mm) are available with external cooling jackets.

Power semiconductor manufacturer Infineon Technologies has developed a new generation of 1.2kV IGBTs (insulated gate bipolar transistors) that cut conduction losses by up to 40% compared to standard IGBTs while exhibiting the same low switching losses. Infineon says that the new devices could lead to more compact drive designs.

Baldor is offering a free program that analyses the benefits of installing high-efficiency motors (HEMs). The Best software calculates the annual cost of the electricity needed to run a standard motor and compares this with the cost of an HEM, showing payback periods. Data can be entered can be via a keyboard or handheld computer, or from an Excel spreadsheet. Copies are available by phoning (44) 1454 850000 or emailing

General Motors has begun to offer an active damping system based on magnetorheological (MR) fluids on some of its Cadillac and Chevrolet models. The company says that the system, which adjusts the damping forces once a millisecond, results is a better ride, less body roll and improved handling. MR fluids, consisting of iron particles suspended in a synthetic fluid, change their viscosity rapidly when exposed to magnetic fields.

Researchers at Sheffield Hallam University`s School of Engineering have received a £180,000 grant to develop a vision system for a generation of micro-robots designed to take on tinier tasks than ever before. The three-year project is part of a £1.35m pan-European collaborative programme backed by the European Union. Armed with micro-grippers, the tiny robots will be able to move and cut objects to an accuracy of a nanometre.

Siemens has introduced a pair of intelligent positioning drives designed to be used in distributed servo drive installations, linked by the Profibus DP protocol. The Simodrive Posmo modules incorporate converters and controls and can act as nodes on a Profibus DP network. The two modules - one with a mains infeed and the other powered from an external supply - are IP65 rated, allowing them to be built into machinery such as machine tools, packaging and textile lines, and woodworking machines

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