Frequently asked questions
Who developed this technology? How was it invented?
Ben Schuler, Infinitum’s CEO & Founder, is the original inventor of this technology.
Ben’s previous company was focused on capturing waste energy from HVAC systems. While working to reduce the size and cost of the generator in that system, Ben invented the PCB stator technology at the heart of Infinitum’s innovation.
What is a printed circuit board stator?
A PCB (printed circuit board) stator is a unique technology that allows the copper winding core of the motor to be integrated into a thin, disc-shaped PCB. The PCB stator greatly reduces the size and weight of the motor. This PCB stator uses two thirds less copper compared to a conventional iron-core stator. This is the primary differentiator of our technology vs. a conventional electric motor. This PCB stator can be manufactured worldwide in any printed circuit board design/manufacturing facility.
Why is it more efficient?
A traditional motor features a laminated steel core with copper windings, and up to a third of the motor losses are caused by eddy currents in that steel core. When the core and copper windings are replaced by copper traces etched into the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) stator of IE motors, the core losses are eliminated, which provides a higher efficiency motor.
How does the the IE motor compare to conventional EC motors? What are the size and weight differences?
Infinitum’s motors have a geometry commonly referred to as “pancake” or “disc” motors. IE’s motors are less than half the volume and weight of conventional AC induction motors and approximately 30% smaller than electrically commutated (EC) motors. With these size and weight advantages, Infinitum motors achieve higher efficiency and boast a broader, flatter efficiency curve while being scalable to higher HP.
Another advantage of the IE motor is the superior serviceability of components, including bearings and VFD modules. The control options of the IE motor are similar to conventional motors; unlike traditional motors, IE motors can capture and transmit rich monitoring data through enhanced communication options including Modbus TCP, RS485 e.g. Modbus RTU, with additional options are in development.
What is an axial flux motor and how does it work?
In an axial flux motor, the magnetic flux travels parallel to the motor shaft, in the axial direction. Traditional AC induction motors are radial flux machines, where the flux travels perpendicular to the motor shaft in the radial direction.
The Infinitum motor is arranged so that the stator and rotor discs are all parallel to each other, and the stator is sandwiched between the rotor discs. As current passes through the coils on the stator PCB, they generate an electromagnetic field which interacts with the magnetic fields from the rotor magnets to generate torque and rotation.
What type of magnets do you use?
Our technology allows the motor to be tailored to the application requirements. We can design your motor with both rare earth and ferrite permanent magnets.
How does the reliability compare to conventional motors?
Third-party reliability tests have shown that the PCB stator is up to 9x more reliable than a conventional copper wire wound stator. Three common failure points in conventional motors are the copper wire windings, insulation between the copper wire and laminated core, and the bearings. In conventional motors, as the stator heats up and cools down, the copper wire windings rub against each other resulting in insulation failure. Additionally, the windings experience increased stress at the end turns which leads to eventual failure.
In contrast, our PCB stator is produced on fully automated equipment without any of the inconsistencies seen on traditional motor windings. The coefficient of thermal expansion of our PCB substrate and the copper is very similar resulting in almost perfect heat dissipation across the entire stator. Thus our design eliminates both the end-turn and insulation failure modes.
What is the efficiency of the motor?
Our technology can be tailored to the application. Our motors are IE5 class and the combined motor + VFD exceed AMCA 207 efficiencies.
Want to learn more about how we’ve drastically improved motor efficiency with our IEs Series motor? Download our white paper, “High Efficiency Motors”.
Can I use it to replace the motor in my Margaritaville margarita machine?
Absolutely! Not only can it replace your current margarita blender motor, but it can make margaritas better, faster and quieter while using less energy.
What is a Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) and why do I need one?
For most applications, supply line power is typically at a fixed voltage. In order to vary the speed and torque of most motors, you need to be able to control the frequency and voltage going into your motor. A Variable Frequency Drive or VFD allows you to control the power going into your motor and more precisely control the performance.
See our YouTube video “What is a VFD?” for more.
How is the motor controlled? What input/output (I/O) and communications are available?
Our IEs Series motor is controlled via our integrated electronic drive. The drive is a standard 6-pulse drive topology utilizing extremely reliable and ultra efficient Silicon Carbide (SiC) MOSFET switching devices.
The IEs Series offers the same control options as market-leading HVAC variable frequency drives (VFD) and EC motors, making the transition to the IEs Series easy for installers and operators.
Control options include:
- Modbus TCP Primary interface for lab evaluations and configuration
- Modbus RTU: RS485 over serial connection provides read and write (control and configuration) functionality
- Configurable analog input (1 in @±10VDC, 1 out @ ±10VDC, 1 in @ 4-20mA, 1 out @ 4-20mA)
- ±10VDC reference source (for analog control input e.g., a potentiometer)
- Configurable digital, 4 in (pull down), 4 out (open collector)
- 24V, 1A auxiliary power for both internal and external (equipment) use
- Fault relay
What data does the IE motor collect? Are IE motors IoT-enabled?
Unlike traditional AC Induction motors, the IEs Series has sensors integrated into our PCB stator allowing us to measure the health of the motor and the equipment it’s driving. The product provides rich data including vibration, motor and drive temperatures, speed, voltage, and current. This information is made available through advanced communication options including a cellular IoT connection, Ethernet (Modbus TCP), and RS-485 (Modbus RTU) with other communication options currently in development.
Our OPTIONAL integrated cellular IoT modem also uniquely allows users to transfer this data to our FluxVision IoT cloud dashboard and update firmware more easily.
Can you use the IE motor without a drive?
No, our motor requires a drive to operate. The drive is integrated into the motor on our IEs products, however, for larger applications or mobility systems, we would most likely keep it separate.
Can commercial variable frequency drives (VFD) drive this motor?
Infinitum develops its own proprietary inverters to optimize the performance of the motor. All IE motors feature an integrated inverter with optional industry-leading communication and control options. Third party commercial VFDs are not supported by Infinitum.
How do your harmonics compare to conventional VFDs?
We use a standard 6-pulse drive topology, and the total harmonic distortion (THD) is similar to competitive commercial and industrial VFDs. Depending on the application requirements, we can implement a variety of harmonic mitigation techniques including AC line reactor/DC link choke, multi-pulse rectifiers, or an active front-end (AFE).
IEs series integrated motor and drive
How does the efficiency compare to conventional AC Induction motors and drives?
Conventional AC induction motors operate at their highest efficiency at the rated speed (i.e., 1800 RPM) then have a steep drop-off in efficiency at partial load/partial speed. The Infinitum motor maintains a flat efficiency curve across a wider speed range. Download our white paper, “High Efficiency Motors”, to learn more.
How does the IEs Series compare to EC Fans?
Unlike EC Fans, the IEs Series motor allows fan and HVAC OEMs to perfectly match the best fan and motor combination for the application. By decoupling the two components, end-users can also more easily service either component including motor bearings.
Infinitum’s thin profile allows fan and HVAC manufacturers to save space and reduce weight, making shipping, installation, and service easier.
What kind of bearings does the IEs Series motor use?
Our product has been designed with SKF bearings with an L10 life of 50,000 hours.
What is the mean time between failure (MTBF)?
(i.e., What is the motor lifetime? What is the lifetime of the drive and electronics?)
The bearing L10 life is 50,000 hours. The drive or VFD utilizes standard topology and industrial-grade power electronics, which have a lifetime comparable to other industrial grade VFDs on the market.
What is your motor’s operating environment range?
The operating temperature range is -25C to 40C. 95% relative humidity, non-condensing. Derated at altitudes over 1000m.
How is the motor cooled?
The motor is actively cooled with an internal shaft-mounted impeller and heat sinks for the electronic components are arranged on the periphery of the motor housing. The integrated motor and drive protection rating is Totally Enclosed Fan Cooled (TEFC) and IP54.
Where is the motor manufactured?
We’re assembling our motors at a contract manufacturer in Mexico and in Round Rock, Texas. All motors are final tested at our Texas facility.
What is your warranty?
We offer a standard 12-month warranty from date of delivery.
What other applications are there for this technology?
We’re currently working with a range of global OEMs in a variety of applications and industries including:
- HVAC and industrial fans, pumps, and compressors
- Electric mobility including passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles and aerospace
- Consumer appliances
What is your product roadmap?
We’re focusing on HVAC and pumps as our initial market focus. Our commercially available products will range from ½ hp to 30 hp (250 w to 22 kW). The motor may be applicable as-is for many other applications. Our design process is driven by customer input, and we would love to learn about your needs and requirements.
Can you develop a custom design?
Our design process is driven by customer input, and we would love to learn about your needs and requirements.