Biotechnology

Industrial ‘super premium’ motors that benefit business and

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After successfully developing an industrial electric motor (three-phase induction motor) with super premium class efficiency (IE4) for the first time in Korea, the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI) Electric Machinery and Drive Research Center has established an “open platform” that allows SMEs to take advantage of related technologies.

After successfully developing an industrial electric motor (three-phase induction motor) with super premium class efficiency (IE4) for the first time in Korea, the Korea Electrotechnology Research Institute (KERI) Electric Machinery and Drive Research Center has established an “open platform” that allows SMEs to take advantage of related technologies.

Industrial motors are machines that consume the most electricity in the world. Industrial motors account for more than 50% of the total electricity consumption in Korea. In 2018, KERI published a report1) found that increasing the efficiency of electric motors by just 3% would replace the construction of 108 1GW nuclear power plants and save around KRW 34 trillion in value.
1) ‘Special Report on the Development of High-efficiency Electric Motors Worldwide’ issued by working group A1.47 which is responsible for rotating electric generators and motors in the world’s largest electric power industry technical organization (CIGRE). KERI’s Dohyun Kang chaired the working group and led the publication.

Increasing the efficiency of industrial motors is one of the most effective ways to save energy and reduce GHG emissions. Many countries implemented policies to phase out low-efficiency motors, requiring more efficient motors and investing significant budgets in their development.

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) categorizes electric motors according to international efficiency standards as standard efficiency (IE1), high efficiency (IE2), premium (IE3), super premium (IE4), and ultra-premium (IE5). Korea has taken measures to mandate the production and sales of only IE3 motors in the industrial sector since 2018. However, several developed countries initiated regulations to promote the IE4 class as superior to others.

KERI’s achievement is developing core source technology to increase motor capacity with a total of 15kW or less, accounting for 80% of domestic industrial motors, to IE4 level. Even IE3 class motors boast high efficiency which is labeled as premium. In order to develop motors with higher efficiency than that, KERI research team has developed class IE4 motors after years of research and development, whose efficiency is 1-2 percentage points higher than class IE3 motors and reduces energy loss by 20%.

However, not only efficiency improvement but material cost reduction is also important for developing class IE4 motors. While achieving high efficiency with expensive materials is easy, KERI focuses on securing market competitiveness for domestic SMEs. To this end, KERI partners with leading research institutes in every field: the Korea Institute of Electronic Technology for electric motors, the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology for production and manufacturing, and the Korea Institute of Materials Science for materials technology. KERI and partners’ expertise have produced synergy effects to achieve high efficiency and reduced prices.

The research team has established an open web-based platform (URL: iexdesign.com) to extend and deploy class IE4 motors to industrial sites. The company needs a lot of R&D investment, expert design skills and expensive commercial imported software to produce high efficiency motors well. This has become a big crowd for small and medium businesses. Against this background, KERI was able to provide an open platform at a lower cost by leveraging an open source based design and analysis program developed in partnership with the Korea Institute of Electronics Technology and engineering software company, Clew. During the project period (2019-2022), the participating companies have shown very good results, with an average annual increase in electric motorcycle sales of more than 20%. This raises a lot of expectations regarding the impact of the technology.

“An open platform for providing electric motor design, material utilization, and production process databases will significantly lower the barriers for domestic companies to access IE4 industrial high-efficiency motor technologies,” said Dr. Pilwan Han from KERI. “Policy support and promotion is also needed to help domestic enterprises in need actively adopt IE4 high-efficiency motors to respond to the energy crisis.”

The global industrial motor market is estimated to reach USD 68 billion by 2023. The domestic market is estimated to reach USD 2 billion, with an annual growth rate of 7.9%. Korea is expected to implement class IE4 motorcycle regulations by 2026 to achieve carbon neutrality, and many motorcycle companies are expected to grow during this period.

With the issuance of 11 SCI(E) papers and application for 11 technology-related patents, KERI aims to meet the demands of the times by developing class IE4 motors for medium and large capacities between 15kW and 200kW and developing variable speed non-rare earth permanent magnet motors for class IE5.

This research was carried out under the project ‘A Construction and Operation of Open Platform for Next-Generation Super Premium Efficiency (IE4) Motors’ (May 2019 ~ Dec 2022). The project is supported through the ‘Energy Demand Side Management Programme’ organized by the Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning under the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy. Based on the support of the Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning, KERI has conducted research to secure high-efficiency motor technologies for SMEs, such as ‘Premium grade high-efficiency induction motors’, ‘High-efficiency induction motors under minimum efficiency regulations,’ and ‘Super premium synchronous reluctance motors (IE4) driven by inverters.’


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