This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

March 16, 2016

Energy Department Announces $25 Million for Next-Gen Electric Machines

The Energy Department on March 11 announced up to $25 million in available funding aimed at advancing technologies for energy-efficient electric motors through applied research and development. This effort will support development of innovative technologies that will increase the efficiency of electric motors; industrial motors use approximately 70% of the electricity consumed by U.S. manufacturers and nearly a quarter of all electricity consumed nationally.

The Energy Department plans to select eight to 12 projects through the Next Generation of Electric Machines: Enabling Technologies funding opportunity. Specifically, this targets the development of cost-effective efficiency enhancements and weight reductions, while addressing the limitations of traditional conductive metals and silicon-infused "electrical" steels used in motor components.

Funded by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) and in support of the Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative, these projects will leverage recent technical advancements made in nanomaterials research, a new 6.5% siliconizing process in steel manufacturing, and improved performance of high-temperature superconductors. AMO has identified four key technology areas to drive cost-effective efficiency enhancements and weight reductions while addressing the limitations of traditionally used conductive metals and electrical steels:

  • 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.

These enabling technologies could help manufacturers cumulatively save nearly 44 terawatt-hours per year, roughly 1.6% of total U.S. electricity consumption, and pave the path for further savings in variable-speed motors. In addition, these enabling technologies will improve motors used in the growing clean energy sector, helping wind, solar, electric vehicle, and battery manufacturers. See the Energy Department news release and AMO website.

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