My purpose in founding NovaTorque was and is to contribute substantively to the more efficient use of energy. I chose to focus on electric motors because they consume nearly half of all the electricity generated in the world today. Further, two-thirds of the electricity produced is generated by burning fossil fuels. Hence, increased electric motor efficiency can and will have a very meaningful impact on the reduction of greenhouse gases and their contribution to climate change.
The vast majority of the electric motors at work in the world today are AC induction motors. While induction motors are relatively efficient at rated load and speed, their efficiency drops off precipitously when load and speed are varied. My goal was to both increase rated point motor efficiency while, more importantly, maintaining that high efficiency over a very broad range of loads and speeds.
I focused on permanent magnet designs because of their broad, flat efficiency profiles over a wide range of torques and speeds. I have used permanent magnet (PM) motors for most of my engineering career and have always wondered why these motors cost more than induction motors when, for equivalent output power, PM motors are smaller, lighter, and use less overall material.
Years ago, the greatest obstacle to more widespread use of PM motors was the necessity of using a variable frequency drive (VFD) and the cost of those drives. (Permanent magnet motors require a VFD to operate.) Over the last few years, however, dramatic reductions in VFD costs along with significant improvements in VFD features and performance have resulted in rapid and accelerating adoption of variable frequency drives in induction motor applications. We are already seeing widespread adoption of electronic variable frequency drives in nearly all energy-cost-sensitive applications, and we expect that trend to continue in additional market segments in coming years.
A more recent obstacle has been the large increase in the already high cost of the rare earth magnets used in most conventional permanent magnet motors. As you will learn on other pages within this website, we have overcome that obstacle with our unique rotor and stator geometry, allowing us to use readily available, low-cost ferrite magnets.
The metric that has always driven our motor design has been to obtain the highest efficiency per dollar of motor cost. Anyone can build a high efficiency motor if they use expensive materials and costly manufacturing tolerances and processes. It is also easy to build a low-cost motor with low efficiency. The real challenge is to build a high efficiency motor with a low manufacturing cost.
To make the kind of environmental impact we hoped to achieve when NovaTorque was founded, we knew this new technology would need to become nearly as ubiquitous as the AC induction motor is today. And for that to occur, we needed not only to achieve our efficiency goals but also to do so at a cost and price point that would encourage widespread adoption. Our goal was to create a motor both higher in efficiency and ultimately, at comparable volumes, lower in manufacturing costs. We have already achieved the performance portion of this goal and we are well on our way to achieving the cost goal.
For me, it has been a rewarding journey to date. I’m proud of the extraordinary progress already made, the technology we’ve developed, and the team that has elected to join this adventure, all attracted by both the importance and the achievability of our vision. The product we are shipping today is truly “best in class” and will improve even further as we continue to introduce new models.
Thank you for your interest.
John Petro, Founder, NovaTorque, Inc.