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Rockwell invests in PCB motor firm in $40m funding round

26 May, 2021

Rockwell Automation has taken an equity stake in the Texan motor developer and manufacturer, Infinitum Electric, as part of a $40m funding round that takes total funding in the company to date to $55m. Infinitum’s integrated motors, which use PCB (printed circuit board) stators instead of the copper wire and laminated iron cores of conventional motors, are claimed to be 10% more efficient, 50% lighter and smaller, and much quieter than standard motors.

The motors, which are based on a patented air-core stator technology, integrate variable-frequency drives (VFDs) and embedded IoT in a compact package. They use lightweight materials and modular design to generate the same power in half the size and weight, and with a fraction of the carbon footprint, of conventional motors.

Infinitum plans to use the new investment to expand production of its IEs Series motors for commercial and industrial applications, and to complete development of its IEm Series motors for the electric vehicle market.

Since Infinitum launched its motors in 2020, they have attracted the interest of HVAC, industrial, and automotive suppliers that are developing products with environmental sustainability, efficiency and serviceability in mind.

The new investment round has been led by Energy Innovation Capital and includes Infinitum’s existing investors Cottonwood Technology Fund, Chevron Technology Ventures and Ajax Strategies, as well as Rockwell.

Ben Schuler, founder and CEO of Infinitum Electric, says: “We’re excited to ramp production of our motors after seeing significant demand in the commercial HVAC and industrial markets, as well as the growing interest from electric vehicle suppliers who see the potential a highly efficient, lightweight motor can deliver.

“Partnering with Energy Innovation Capital, Rockwell Automation and our existing investors allows us to scale and power machines more efficiently and sustainably."

According to Bob Buttermore, vice-president and general manager of Rockwell Automation’s Power Control business, Rockwell sees the work that Infinitum is doing as “a natural extension of our growing business helping our customers to be more productive and sustainable.

The new round of funding will allow Infinitum Electric to scale production of its high-efficiency, lightweight, PCB-based motors.

“Infinitum Electric addresses the entire lifecycle of the combined motor and variable-frequency drive – from its materials, to how it’s tested, produced, transported, assembled, used, and maintained,” he adds. “Their motor and variable-frequency drive packaged solution offers superior performance and efficiency, while emphasising usability, which is a key differentiator.”

Kevin Skillern, managing partner of the lead investor Energy Innovation Capital, believes that Infinitum’s “innovative technology approach and pragmatic design has resulted in a motor made for the next 100 years”.

As the world adds 800 million motors annually, Infinitum “is positioned to make machines we rely on more sustainable,” he adds. “We’re excited to welcome Infinitum Electric to our portfolio of companies addressing the world’s biggest energy challenges and look forward to working with the company’s incredibly talented team of industry experts.”

The US General Services Administration (GSA) is currently evaluating Infinitum motors as part of the Green Proving Ground programme that it is running in association with the US Department of Energy (DOE), as part of a search for resource-efficient technologies that can improve building health and resilience.

GSA is testing the performance of the motors in HVAC systems both in a federally-owned building and in a private commercial building, with the aim of cutting heating and cooling costs. More efficient motors will be needed in the US because the energy needed to heat and cool buildings is likely to increase following the publication of CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines aimed at increasing outdoor air ventilation and running HVAC systems for longer periods.

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