clemson-electric-motor-repairThe U.S. Department of Energy is funding a three-year $6.7-million research project that could dramatically reduce energy consumption worldwide by developing more efficient industrial motors.

Clemson University is leading the project together with TECO-Westinghouse Motor Company and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Their goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while helping industry reduce costs and increase profits.

Electric motors are the driving force behind major industries such as wastewater treatment, manufacturing, mining, farming, food preparation, and many more. Electric motors power the fans, pumps, compressors, mills, rollers, hoists that keep the US economy moving forward. Some studies have shown that electric motors account for more that 65% of all electricity consumed in industrial applications. Increasing electric motor efficiency will not only help save energy, but increase profits.

Researchers are looking at many different technologies that show potential of helping to improve efficiency, including wide bandgap devices, advanced magnetic materials, improved insulation materials, aggressive cooling techniques, high-speed bearing designs and improved conductors or superconducting materials.

The $6.7-million grant is the latest investment the Energy Department has made at the Clemson University Restoration Institute. The Energy Department provided $45 million to establish a wind-turbine drivetrain testing and research facility and $2.4 million to develop the Duke Energy eGRID. These two projects form the cornerstone of the SCE&G Energy Innovation Center and are the largest such facilities in the world. With other public and private grants, the facilities now represent $110 million in investment.

Paulo Guedes-Pinto, the director of the Design Center and R&D at TECO-Westinghouse, said “We’re bringing together some of the top researchers in higher education and industry to work for the greater good of all,” he said. “The result will be a fully integrated, high-speed megawatt class motor and high-frequency variable speed drive system. In short, it’s the next generation of electric machines.” “This is a wonderful example of how we integrate our innovation and main campuses,” said Anand Gramopadhye, dean of the College of Engineering and Science. “It epitomizes the college theme ‘innovation through translation.’”

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