KC company’s revolutionary electric motor: 50% more efficient

KC company’s revolutionary electric motor: 50% more efficient

Kansas City-based QM Power has developed the most significant innovation in electric motors in 50 years, creating a level of energy efficiency the company expects will revolutionize the market.

QM Power’s new Q-Sync Smart Synchronous Motor is as much as 80 percent more efficient than Tesla’s induction electric motors, which have been in use since 1888, and as much as 50 percent more efficient than the Electronically Commutated Motors, which came out in 1962 using permanent magnets.

That efficiency will translate to significant savings because electric motors are used in every modern building around the globe, running fans that circulate the air in HVAC units and refrigerators. Electric motors consume about 55 percent of the energy used in a typical office building. A standard grocery store has about 300 electric motors running, mainly for circulating the air in product display coolers to maintain a uniform temperature. So QM Power’s new energy-efficient motor can have a huge effect on costs.

“Up to 98 percent of the cost of an electric motor is in the energy it consumes,” QM Power co-founder and CEO P.J. Piper said. “You can buy a motor for $100, but it might consume $5,000 worth of electricity over its useful life. So the efficiency means everything in these things because the motor costs you several times the initial cost for the electricity to run it.

“When the market went from the induction motor design to the permanent magnets, they needed to install some extra electronics to make it work. Our aha moment was if you can get the benefits of the permanent magnet without all those electronics running in the background, you can save a lot of money on energy costs.”

Aside from using far less power, the new Q-Sync motor also costs the same as the motors it replaces. That makes it a much different sales pitch than other product switches, such as from incandescent bulbs to more expensive LEDs.

The challenge now for QM Power: getting people to know the motor is on the market. It came out in September, and QM Power started with the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that build systems using electric motors. However, it’s been hard to grab their attention because the motor doesn’t save them money on manufacturing costs. So QM Power is bypassing that step and going directly to the OEMs’ customers — for example, grocery store owners — that actually will save money.

QM Power teamed up with the U.S. Department of Energy, which is helping set up demonstration projects and documenting the results through the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to show they are legitimate. A recent test at a Price Chopperin the Kansas City area resulted in wattage use declining from 112.2 before the retrofit to 24.2 afterward. After results like that, the owners of test stores will likely provide compelling testimonials for QM Power.

The company expects to grow quickly. It recently moved its headquarters to a 13,000-square-foot building in Kansas City near the old Bannister Mall site; the new location is three times bigger than its original facility in Lee’s Summit. QM Power has 28 employees but expects to add 12 more before the end of the year in just about every department.

Piper is no stranger to growing a successful startup. He’s got an investment banking background and is a co-founder and former CFO of Aspen Aerogels Inc., a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of insulation products that went public in 2014. Piper was in Boston when he was introduced to Joe Flynn, inventor the Q-Sync motor who now serves as QM Power’s chairman and chief technology officer.

“I met him through a contact I had at Boeing who vouched for him and said the technology was real, but it needed a company wrapped around it to bring it to fruition,” Piper said. “The guy at Boeing was the same guy who referred me to my other company, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I’m glad I did. I met with Joe and thought he really had something here.”

Flynn previously developed electric motors and generators for a wide variety of military applications. After he built some prototypes of the Q-Sync motor for QM Power, they started meeting with people to see whether there was interest for commercial applications.

“What we found is that it had a major commercial refrigeration application, and we realized that here is an industry that could go through a wholesale change away from an old technology,” Piper said.

See the original article at: http://www.bizjournals.com/kansascity/news/2016/03/21/qm-power-electric-motor-pj-piper.html

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