A recent technological breakthrough in the efficiency of the electric motor could mean that the average family’s grocery bill is about to drop – significantly. QM Power, a technology firm located in Kansas City, Missouri, recently broke the news to the world that it had developed an electric motor that promised to be at least 80% more efficient than Tesla’s (the man, not the automaker) induction electric motor.
Though it’s arguable that highly effective electric motors are poised to be the most transformative technology of the new millennium, the fact that they have the ability to alter the course of humanity is undeniable – promising, at the very least, to curtail society’s insatiable thirst for fossil fuels.
Energy efficient motors can have a big impact on the consumer, not least of all at the grocery store (where one might typically find no less than 300 electric motors running continuously, simply to keep the stock from spoiling). Efficiencies in electric motors can drastically reduce the electricity consumption costs for a grocery chain, which can lead to lower prices on food – and this is just one example.
But why work so hard on developing improved efficiencies in electric motors? Electricity, after all, is a relatively cheap commodity, and there are numerous ways to produce it using sustainable and renewable sources. One industry insider explained the value of improving motor efficiency this way: “Up to ninety eight percent of an electric motor’s cost [is directly correlated to] the energy it consumes. You can buy an electric motor for $100, but it might consume upwards of $5,000 of electricity over its useful lifetime”. When portrayed in that kind of light, it becomes strikingly obvious that there is a definite economic incentive in addressing how efficient an electric motor is. Though this last may be obvious, it certainly isn’t so to the commercial refrigeration industry, 65% of which still uses shaded pole motors (that are only 20% efficient) – a technology that was invented in the year 1880.
The revolutionary new motor essentially makes an addition by subtraction; engineers realized that by removing the unnecessary electrical components of a permanent magnet-powered electrical motor, they could drastically reduce the amount of electricity consumed.
Surprisingly, this game changing motor hasn’t been an easy sell with manufacturers (largely because consumption savings are generally experienced by the end consumer, which is why the manufacturer has been reaching out to the commercial sector directly).
On a wider scale, this kind of technology can help governments attain their stringent emissions targets. Upwards of 70% of all the electricity used in nearly every office building in the world is used by electric motors; if even half of them operate as inefficiently as the shaded pole motor described above, it’s no wonder that the nations of the world have been struggling to lower their carbon footprint.
Additionally, with the widespread application of a motor that requires 80% less electrical consumption there would be a commensurate drop in the stress applied to a region’s energy grid. This giant leap forward in efficiency can also prolong the life of current infrastructure, allowing governments to allocate resources elsewhere.
It’s technologies like this that are adding to the growing need of qualified professionals – in this case, electromechanical technicians – to be among those who install and service their equipment. In a trickle down effect, this need is also driving the demand for comprehensive certificate programs at industry respected academic institutions.
Currently, the energy efficient motor is only available for refrigeration applications, but it’s easy to imagine the full spectrum of possibilities such a technology can have. In fact, it may inspire others to look for new ways to improve upon electric motor technology; technology that until recently hadn’t seen any real change in years. And that is the truly exciting thing about today’s world – that anyone with an Internet connection and a passion for technology can register for an online technical training program, improving their resume and job prospects.