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‘Re-invented’ fan motor cuts energy use by up to 80%

30 September, 2015

Previously, synchronous motors have been prohibitively expensive for commercial refrigeration evaporator fan applications because of the high cost of the electronic control circuitry needed to bring the motors up to synchronous speed. The Q-Sync’s controller is simpler and lower in cost, making the new motors a cost-effective alternative for the commercial refrigeration market.

And, because its electronic circuitry runs for a fraction of the time required for an ECM motor, the Q-Sync motor is said to be more reliable and to last longer.

As well as transforming electrical energy into mechanical energy more efficiently than an ECM, the Q-Sync motor is said to have a much higher power factor, so it accepts energy from the grid more efficiently. It also reduces stresses on the grid and can help utilities to reduce spikes in energy use and costs.

“The introduction of Q-Sync will lead to a significant reduction in energy consumption and CO₂ emissions,” predicts Dr Bryan Becker, a professor at University of Missouri–Kansas City’s School of Computing and Engineering and a former chairman of Ashrae’s Technical Committee for Refrigeration Applications for Foods and Beverages. “Using Q-Sync technology instead of state-of-the-art electronically-commutated motors would be the energy equivalent of taking one of every two motors off the grid. And, using Q-Sync technology instead of shaded-pole motors would be the equivalent of taking four of every five motors off the grid.”

QM Power says that its Q-Sync motors are the most efficient fan motors on the market

The US DOE has been working with QM Power, as well as OEMs, supermarkets, service and retrofit contractors, and utilities, to install and demonstrate more than 10,000 Q-Sync fan assemblies in more than 50 grocery stores across the US.

A new report from the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) documents the results from one field trial, which compared two 12W Q-Sync motors with two 12W EC motors used in a refrigerated display in a supermarket. The trial found that the power consumption of the new motor was 27.4% lower than the EC motors, and the current it drew was 53.3% lower. The efficiency of the Q-Sync motor was 73.1% compared to 53.1% for the ECM, while the Q-Sync’s power factor was 0.936 compared to 0.601 for the ECM.

Based on the trial, the ORNL report extrapolates to the installed base of 9–12W commercial refrigerator fan motors in the US and calculates that retrofitting these with the new motors would result in energy savings of 68% – equivalent to 4.9TWh per year (worth more than $500m).

The report also says that the higher power factor of the Q-Sync motors means that utilities would need to supply 80% less apparent power and 80% less current for the new motors, compared to the current baseline combination of shaded-pole and EC motors.

It goes on to look at the potential savings of applying the Q-Sync technology to other equipment, such as evaporator and condenser fans used in domestic refrigerators, and commercial and residential HVAC systems. Because there are hundreds of millions of these motors in the US, and they tend to be larger than the trial motors, they consume almost 30 times more energy. So, the potential savings of converting these motors to the new design could be around 300TWh. 

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