Extra Potential

Exro, Potencia teaming up for motor and generator efficiency projects

For American ‘reshoring’ advocates, this one might seem like a tough loss. Two major presences in the world of high-efficiency electric motors and generators have linked up, and their pipeline arches just over both U.S. borders.

Exro Technologies, of Vancouver, B.C., has announced an industrial collaboration agreement with Potencia Industrial, a motors and generator manufacturer based in Mexico City.

The agreement details a joint development collaboration for three projects with the goal of “improving various aspects of motor/generator performance by integrating Exro’s technology into Potencia motors and generators,” according to a May 7 joint press release. Exro is a power efficiency company that specializes in electric motors. Its technology, “dynamic power management” (DPM) is the general architecture driving these projects.

The three projects include:  an electric motor for a car conversion kit, a generator for a small wind turbine, and electric motors used in trams and trains.

“We are excited to work with such a proven leader and innovator,” said Mark Godsy, Exro CEO. Potencia’s electric motors and generators are used around the world and often in the most challenging of circumstances because of their uncompromising quality.”

“We are delighted to work with Exro,” said Carlos Gottfried, president of Potencia Industrial. “A successful collaboration could have far reaching impact for our industry, for our customers, and for the environment.”

Dynamic power management is essentially a control system that integrates wiring of rotating machine coils into the power electronics, giving them control of machine coil wiring configuration in real time, as opposed to a fixed configuration. Using algorithms, DPM senses input energy and load, and seamlessly switches coil wiring in any combination from full parallel to full series.

In essence, DPM provides voltage control with multiple performance curves corresponding to the coil configurations in the electric machine. Exro’s technology is designed and built into our partner’s electric machine and power electronics for the application. DPM is fully integrated with the power electronics design; there is no separate hardware package.

More information about each area of focus in the Exro/Potencia collaboration agreement is not scant on detail. The companies have a plan of attack for sky, road, and rail.

The first application hits the road; it will be for electric motors that Potencia currently manufacturers for its car conversion kits. The conversion kit allows for a gas motor of an economy-sized car to be swapped out and replaced with an electric motor. Potencia is currently introducing the kits to a sizeable market of car owners who want the lower operating costs and/or the zero-emission benefits of an electric car without having to replace the whole vehicle.

Potencia and Exro will work together to integrate Exro’s DPM technology into the electric motor with a view of providing additional torque management. This feature will potentially allow the motor to operate more efficiently in a variety of speed and load conditions which occur as a car accelerates, decelerates, climbs up and down hills, and/or operates at higher speeds. Exro reconfigures the coils in a motor, providing more flexibility for power and torque, which traditionally has been a limitation for electric motors because they don’t have the transmission systems of gas-powered motors.  The expectation is that this technology will allow for a greater range of efficiency in circumstances where the designers of electric motors have had to choose between torque or speed.

Secondly, the companies will work on a small wind turbine which Potencia currently offers for sale. Here, the parties will collaborate by integrating Exro’s technology into a 5 kW generator. By reconfiguring the coils within the generator, the parties anticipate being able to produce more consistent voltage under varying wind conditions, leading to better overall system management and consistent energy production, which is key for offering electricity for sale or efficiently charging a battery. These factors could be important for distribution in the growing trend of microgrids.

Another aspect of the second project will explore efficiencies that may be gained when using DPM compared to a traditional generator working at similar speeds and torque under variable wind conditions. This research could see value in other renewable energy sectors that have a variable energy source, such as tidal, wave, or river.

The third application will focus on electric trams, trains and high-speed trains. Potencia currently sells electric motors for each of these markets throughout the world. Here the parties will collaborate by integrating the DPM technology into motors for each of these respective markets. Like the car converter kit application where existing limitations of a motor require a trade-off between speed and torque, the parties hope that such a trade-off may no longer be necessary, giving the motors a greater range of efficiency, which could reduce operational strain on the motor, provide greater energy efficiency, and allow for better selection of motor sizing.

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