DOE Regulations: Energy Efficiency Improvements for Motors cause Industry Challenges

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The United States has had efficiency regulations for industrial electric motors in place since October 1997, when the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct 92) set minimum efficiency levels for 1- to 200-hp general-purpose three phase motors. EPAct 92 was upgraded when the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) went into effect in December 2010.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>Several years ago, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) conducted a technical study as to what could be done to raise the efficiency levels of “small” motors. After years of study and litigation, the Small Motor Rule was passed that covers two-digit NEMA frame single- and three-phase 1/3 through 3 horsepower motors in Open enclosures.

Although the Small Motor Rule seems simple, it has the effect of creating motors with much larger footprints, particularly on single phase designs where capacitor start/induction run motors may largely be discontinued in Open enclosures. In some cases, a TEFC motor may be more cost effective and smaller than an Open motor.

The DOE is presently conducting another technical study on “medium” AC induction motors of 1- to 500-hp. In their study, DOE is evaluating a possible increase in nominal motor efficiency of 1 – 3 NEMA bands (approximately 0.4 to 1.5%) above NEMA Premium Efficiency levels as defined in MG 1-2011 table 12-12. Although this sounds simple to do, such a motor redesign could entail new laminations, winding equipment and in many cases, new frames to fit the extra material. Some designs may not fit where existing motor designs of the same ratings fit today. This means that OEMs would need to redesign their machine if that is an issue and end users may have trouble fitting the new higher efficiency replacement motor into their equipment or existing envelope.<

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Demand for DC Brushless Motors to increase over 50% in Transportation Sector by 2017

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Automotive systems are becoming increasingly electrically-driven and electric motor manufacturers are benefiting.

Duane Tilden‘s insight:

>“[…] Increasing sales of plug-in electric vehicles, which have powertrain and chassis systems that are electromechanically-driven, are expected to provide greater growth potential for brushless DC motor shipments than for brushed DC motors.


Although DC brushed motors usage is expanding with the increasing number of electromechanically-driven powertrain and chassis systems, DC brushless motor shipments for powertrain and chassis applications are expected to outpace those of DC brushed motors twofold from 2012 to 2017. The respective average annual growth of DC brushed and DC brushless motor shipments from 2012 to 2017 is expected to be 3.5 percent and 7 percent according to IMS Research. <

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