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Axial flux motors `will be 98% efficient`
Published:  01 October, 2006

Axial flux motors `will be 98% efficient`

A US company has filed a patent for a new design of axial flux, coreless, permanent-magnet machine which, it claims, will lead to a new generation of motors and generators with efficiencies of 98% or higher. The Oregon-based Axial Vector Engine Corporation (AVEC) says that its high-power-density technology, which incorporates novel stator and coil designs, is scalable from milliWatts to MegaWatts.

The machines use specially developed windings which are said to enhance torque versus speed characteristics when used in the motor configuration. The patent also covers inverters and other electrical equipment designed to maximise efficiency.

"We expect these developments to be an important leap forward in energy savings in electric generators and motors," says AVEC`s president and CEO, Dr Raymond Brouzes.

Unlike induction motors, which need to generate a magnetic field to start up, there is no current in-rush with the AVEC designs. They also have power factors approaching unity.

AVEC expects its motors to be used in a variety of applications, from HVAC to vehicle propulsion where they could be used as in-wheel motors. The motor-generators can operate in a regenerative mode to recover braking energy in applications such as vehicles and lifts. They could also be used in wind turbines and to propel boats, Brouzes suggests.

The company is developing 0.5-5kW motors for compressor applications and larger versions up to 200kW for propulsion duties.

"Because of the small size of our motor and its high efficiency, we see it fitting nicely into compressors for air-conditioning and refrigerators," says Brouzes. "In fact, we see our motor being designed and built into the compressors. This market alone is some 15-30 million units a year in the US alone."

He also sees great potential in China which produces more than 40GW of motor capacity annually. "Motor systems in China are generally much less efficient than systems in the US and other developed countries, and thus there are substantial opportunities for foreign firms to introduce efficient motor technologies into the Chinese market," says Brouzes. "For the typical four-pole 10hp motor, the efficiency at full load is only about 87%, compared to our motors at about 98%."

Initially, AVEC is focusing on a 200kW generator design which it plans to exhibit at the International Power Gen Show in Florida in November. It claims that the generator will consume less fuel per unit of electricity generated, and be considerably smaller, than any existing internal-combustion-engine-driven generator. It will also operate with a claimed efficiency of 98.5%, compared to the closest rival of 92%. The company is planning to develop generating sets with ratings from 7.5kW to 1MW.

AVEC, which has raised $2.7m of private funding, plans to licence the manufacturing of its designs.

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