High-Tech on the rotor

Innovation project: Electric motor with rotating drive-train technology

The majority of production machines in automotive manufacturing are driven by alternating current electric motors, which convert electricity into mechanical energy. The variable production speeds that are needed for production lines in the automotive industry (for example) require the use of converters, which switch between the motor and the power supply network, and make it possible to carry out a speed control adjustment. The use of the currently available converters causes voltage distortions in the power supply network, which could interfere with other connected devices. The converter, which is mounted on the motor, also requires additional installation space. In addition, when braking the machine, the energy that is released cannot be fed back into the power supply network. This aspect reduces the efficiency of production machinery and increases electricity consumption.

The aim of the innovation project is to develop an innovative alternating current electric motor that is compact and energy efficient, and only produces very low interference. The innovation lies in a return to the classic design concept. The converter will no longer be located externally, between the power supply network and the motor, but rather internally on the rotating part of the motor. The motor itself will then be directly connected to the network.

The first step is to analyze the demands on production motors such as those used in automotive manufacture. This forms the basis for determining how and where the converter can be integrated into the rotating part of the motor in a space-saving way. Moreover, the motor control is designed with the help of a simulation and implemented in such a way that energy can be fed back into the power supply network. The next step is to develop contact-free communication methods to make contact possible between the rotating converter, which will no longer need to be connected to the machine controller by cables or leads, and the outside. The project draws on the results of cross-sectional projects in self-optimization, intelligent networking, energy efficiency and systems engineering. A demonstration model will be used to test the motor, which will be then be made available for production machines.

This project will make it possible in the future for electric motors to autonomously adapt their revolution speed to individual needs. There will be fewer errors in the power supply network, and released energy can be fed back into the power supply network. In addition, the installation size of the motor will be reduced. In total it is expected that the energy efficiency compared with comparable drives will increase by more than 10%. The results can be transferred to other applications such as ancillary units in commercial vehicles, drives for mail-sorting offices and beverage filling machines.

01 July 2014 - 30 June 2017