HVACR is a mature industry, to be sure, but one that continues to innovate. I found an example of industry innovation at the Infinitum Electric booth at AHR Expo in Orlando. The five-year-old company offers a 15-hp motor for ventilation applications that weighs only 96 pounds and is 96% efficient. The motor is based on technology that pulls the iron and copper out of the stator and etches copper coils into a circuit board. Infinitum has filed 21 patents over the last three years to cover the technology.
Changing industry standards
These benefits equate to an ultra-high-efficiency motor for plenum pan applications that results in up to 25% lower costs for customers. The motor’s use of a circuit board stator results in up to 60% less weight, superior durability, improved performance and enhanced IoT connectivity. Infinitum Electric seeks to change the industry standard for motor size and weight.
that results in up to 25% lower costs for customers
Infinitum displayed an early phototype of the motor at last year’s AHR Expo. OEM customers’ interest in the prototype enabled the company to raise $12.5 million over the last year, which will allow them to ramp up production and deliver the orders. OEM companies such as Acme, Comefri and Twin City fans are embracing the new motors, and Infinitum will manufacture 13,000 of them in the next three years.
The modular technology allows for components such as rotor, stator and drive to be easily adjusted to meet specific requirements in a fab-less, manufacture-anywhere setting.
|The motor is based on technology that pulls the iron and copper out of the stator and etches copper coils into a circuit board|
This year's aHR Expo
At this year’s AHR Expo., Infinitum won the Innovation Award in the ventilation category, besting big-name companies such as Rosenberg and ZIEHL-ABEGG.
Attendees reacted positively to the new motor at this year’s AHR Expo. “On the innovation side, we are hearing ‘this is awesome, I want to have this,’” said Ben Schuler, Infinitum Electric Founder and CEO. “As of now, a lot of folks are just in awe of the innovative approach we are taking.” Additional details about issues such as installation and service will emerge in the next year as OEMs incorporate the motor into products and applications.
Pulling the iron from the stator yields zero acoustic noise in the motors. In some customers’ laboratories, the new product is 5-db quieter than any other motor, and low noise is a big point of differentiation. The motor’s light weight and efficiency are big selling points: Traditional 15-hp motors are usually 300 lbs, and only between 85% and 90% efficient.
Replacing the iron core and copper wire windings drastically reduces the physical weight. Furthermore, reduced core losses and easily controllable electrical losses increase efficiency. Also, fully insulated conductors and a consistent automated manufacturing process provide longer life expectancy
low failure rate will be a measure of success as manufacturing ramps up
Schuler says low failure rate will be a measure of success as manufacturing ramps up on the new product. “There may be some things that come up and we will have to overcome the challenges, and we will,” he said. “Quality is above all else.”
The motor also includes Internet of Things (IoT) functionality, such as WiFi and cellular modules, that provides access to data in the cloud about each motor. “We are able to monitor power, speed, amperage, voltage, temperature, vibration, pressure – all the things you need to monitor. Analyzing all that data lets customers know if something is happening with the motor before there is a catastrophic failure,” says Schuler. In effect, the data can predict a problem before it becomes a problem.