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Downey and Gates invest in switched reluctance developer

30 March, 2021

Investment funds set up by the actor Robert Downey Jr and Microsoft founder Bill Gates and are among the latest investors in the Californian motor developer Turntide Technologies, which is producing a new generation of switched reluctance motors. The company has recently completed an $80m funding round, bringing its total funding to date to $180m.

Turntide (previously known as the Software Motor Company) has developed and patented a cloud-connected SRM (switched reluctance motor) that, it says, uses a fraction of the energy of traditional AC induction motors. It adds that its motors cost less to own and operate than conventional alternatives, and do not need costly rare-earth magnets.

The latest investment round was led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a backer of clean technologies founded by Gates, and included Downey’s recently established FootPrint Coalition Ventures, as well as the Amazon Climate Pledge Fund.

Turntide plans to use the new funding to expand production of its Smart Motor System to meet growing demand, and to extend the technology to new applications. Chairman and CEO Ryan Morris says that the investment will also help to ramp up retrofitting of its motors.

The funding will also be used to develop and deploy Riptide, a cloud-based building automation software platform that Turntide bought recently. Riptide works with existing building equipment to automate building management, enhance comfort and cut energy consumption and downtime.

Turntide’s motors are giving a new lease of life to switched reluctance technology

Although switched reluctance motor technology dates back to the nineteenth century, to date it has been used mainly in applications where reliability is essential. Turntide is harnessing recent advances in sensor and software technologies to deliver the precise amount of power needed, thus cutting energy consumption. The motors are managed using cloud software and are connected to controls via the IoT. The result is a new generation of high-efficiency SRMs that Turntide believes will have a much wider range of potential applications.

Initially, it is producing the motors in ratings up to 15hp (11.2kW) and targeting building services applications such as pumps and fans. Turntide says that when the motors are combined with IoT building automation technologies, they can optimise energy efficiency. Initial customers that have retrofitted the motors in HVAC installations include Amazon, BMW and Five Guys. Turntide says they have achieved average reductions in energy consumption of 64%.

Turntide: Twitter  LinkedIn  Facebook

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