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Digital technology cuts single-phase motor energy use by `up to 30%`

01 November, 2006

Digital technology cuts single-phase motor energy use by `up to 30%`

A Las Vegas company says it has successfully completed tests on a new microprocessor-based technology designed to cut the amount of power consumed by lightly-loaded, fixed-speed single-phase AC induction motors. Power Efficiency Corporation (PEC) claims that it achieved energy savings of more than 30% when the 250W Baldor test motor was on no load, and 20% savings when it was at 40% of full load.

PEC is targeting applications such as refrigerators, vending machines and domestic air conditioning, primarily through sales and licencing agreements with manufacturers of this equipment. It has already started discussions with companies operating in these sectors about testing its technology in their products.

According to PEC, the potential market is huge. Last year, more than 14.5 million residential air conditioners and 13.5 million fridges and freezers were sold in the US alone.

"Historically, energy efficiency measures for appliances have focused on other areas, such as seals, insulation and lighting in the refrigerators," says PEC`s chief executive, Steven Strasser, "but the compressor motor uses the most electricity. We believe that our digital controller is the simplest and most cost-effective technology to reduce the energy consumed by many of the appliances."

PEC already sells energy-saving systems for larger fixed-speed motors in applications such as escalators and lifts. Its products use an enhanced version of an energy-saving technology, originally developed by NASA in the 1970s, which monitors the phase lag between the voltage and the current of a lightly-loaded motor and cuts the voltage to provide the precise amount of energy needed by the motor.

PEC`s customers include the Finnish lift-maker Kone which is incorporating the technology into a retrofit designed to improve the performance and efficiency of old escalators.

The new single-phase version of PEC`s technology is based on a new algorithm said to be more suitable for single-phase machines. The company expects to file a patent covering the technology in the coming months.

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