In business conversations the words 'disruptive technology' are nearing a saturation point as a buzz phrase. In business practice, however, disruptive technology is just getting started.
The MagForceX℠ Innovation Center of Essex Magnet Wire is a service-oriented collective of PhD, MS, and BS Engineers and Scientists that are using a collaborative approach to transform ideas into realities. The Center has already begun working with numerous, strategic clients to develop innovative products and technology to drive the future.
Its first product, EnduroTemp™ 260+, was recently revealed at CWIEME Berlin and is set to redefine what traction motors utilized in hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, aerospace motors and actuators, as well as industrial applications like down hole pumping, oil exploration, or natural gas can do.
"I believe it is a revolutionary product," Matthew Leach, Vice President of Innovation and Head of the Essex MagForceX℠ Innovation Center, said. "It is definitely revolutionary for us as a company because this is the highest temperature product we've ever offered. The performance that we're seeing comparatively to our traditional products, it offers magnitudes better performance in just about every category we look at."
EnduroTemp™ 260+ is a thin, film insulation that will extend the life of traction motors in critical transportation applications and has been specifically designed to withstand higher operating temperatures with an industry best 265℃ thermal endurance. The product will also provide protection to the motor against deterioration created by the modern power electronics controlling the motor.
The phenomenon of partial discharge and detrimental corona -- both long present problems at damaging the insulation on AC variable frequency drives -- prompted Leach, his team, and their partners to make the effort to achieve disruptive technology.
Leach said that having a group of that has over 135 years of magnet wire experience, including six PhDs on his team, made the discovery easier to achieve than what others have had in the last 30 years.
"I think it's a combination of experience and application expertise that only resides in our team today, where you had application expert or motor expert working day to day with the polymer chemist. The inventor of this product has over 40-years of experience in this industry. So, this R&D chemist has really understood the morphology of this need over time, and really conceived this idea of needing this higher temperature by working with one of our application experts," Leach said. "The two of them started talking, and, "What if ...?" "What if you could do this?" and the chemistry expert said, "I can do that."
"They started trying some different experimentations, actually tried quite a few different materials, formulations, and the culmination of that took years of work that resulted in this product. It was a combination of expertise, experience, and also just having the ability to formulate some of these things. Kind of the combination of all three came together to allow us to formulate this."
Technological advancements that have been made to increase the efficiency of electric driven vehicles as well as elevated performance requirements of the traction motors and generators is making deterioration exponentially more severe.
Designers have been forced to utilize power electronic speed control (“inverters”) with higher voltages and faster switching frequencies to drive the motors which puts severe stress on the windings of a motor.
Where EnduroTemp™ 260+ thrives is where typical winding insulation utilized for standard motors will fail under similar conditions in only a few hours.
The application is most applicable for transportation, and not just cars as it can be off-road, heavy mining equipment. It is a perfect solution for demanding aerospace applications as well. High-temperature windings are going to be subject to a lot of different environments.
Leach said that the EnduroTemp™ 260+ product is designed to handle situations that other products simply can not.
"As a motor designer designs a high-temp traction motor for a vehicle, they are going to test it in extreme conditions from the heat of the Mojave desert to the cold and elevation of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. They will put it in some pretty intense testing applications," he said. "Most of the losses in a motor result in heat generation. So, the harder you push that motor to get more power and torque in a smaller package, the more heat is potentially being generated. So, this insulation system can withstand much higher temperatures than really anything else we have out on the market today.
"EnduroTemp™ 260+ gives the opportunity for the motor designer to potentially push the current density a little bit higher in that motor, resulting in a little bit higher operating temperature, but the insulation system will withstand that temperature and transfer heat much faster than standard insulations."
The MagForceX℠ Innovation Center offers its clients lab services, research in multiple areas, as well as project studies. It has a fully equipped facility with state-of-the-art tools that deliver results.
The main areas of concentration that the center focuses on include motor design and engineering technology specific to HEV/EV applications, equipment development and design to the industrial marketplace, as well as disruptive technology to evolve the capability of magnet wire and its insulation systems.
Leach said that no matter the goal of his clients, the best approach is collaborative.
"I would recommend any person designing a new application, new motor, that they have to look at the value proposition as a whole," he said. "You can't just look at the single cost of the material. You have to look at what is this going to do? Total cost of ownership. So again, what this can do, this product with better performance, longer life, could potentially lower warranty claims over time.
"We have a PhD expert in test and insulation systems. So, he has an expertise in how you test high voltage applications, with many years of experience around the high voltage world. Now you've got the motor expert, you've got an insulation and test expert, and you've got a polymer chemist, all working on the same problem. It's just much faster transfer of knowledge, and better application of each of their talents and knowledge, to really culminate into new products."
For more information on the services offered by the MagForceX℠ Innovation Center, visit its website.