The U.S. Department of Energy has allocated almost $25 million to fund 13 research and development projects to advance technologies for energy-efficient electric motors. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) said the Next Generation Electric Machines (NGEM) projects will address the limitations of traditional materials and designs used in electric motor components by cost-effectively enhancing their efficiency, improving their performance and reducing weight. DOE said the effort will support innovative approaches to improve the technology in industrial electric motors, which use approximately 70 percent of the electricity consumed by U.S. manufacturers and nearly a quarter of all electricity consumed nationally.
Among the technologies are wide bandgap semiconductor devices, advanced magnetic materials, aggressive cooling techniques and improved conductors or superconducting materials. These projects also leverage recent technical advances made in nanomaterials research, new highly siliconized steel manufacturing processes and improved performance of high temperature superconductors—all representing potentially economical solutions for next generation electric machines.
Each of the 13 projects have been selected to address one of four topic areas identified by EERE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office:
- Manufacturing of high performance thermal and electrical conductors
- Manufacturing of low-loss silicon steel
- High temperature superconducting wire manufacturing
- Manufacturing of other enabling technologies to increase performance.
The 13 projects selected for awards are led by AK Steel Corp., American Superconductor Corp., Carnegie Mellon University, Florida State University, General Electric, NovaTorque, Purdue University, Rice University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Superconductor Technologies, SurfTec, University of Central Florida and University of Houston.