The Development of the Axial Permanent Magnet Motor
Traditional radial and external rotor motors in the marketplace today inherently present manufacturers with some constraints including: size, weight and the need to stock many designs to meet different customer specifications.
Regal® is introducing a new motor concept, the UlteMAX™ axial permanent magnet (PM) motor. For equipment manufacturers, it offers a completely new path and platform for innovation and performance with game-changing implications for the commercial air handling equipment industry in terms of motor size, weight, design, intelligence and functionality across a range of power ratings.
The research began several years ago when Regal teams studied a different motor concept that could potentially allow manufacturers to do more with radically smaller motors. For example, in an axial motor, the magnetic field runs parallel to the typical shaft output location, rather than radially through the rotor and stator. As a result, axial motors can be far thinner and lighter. Their lightweight design makes them ideal for applications where quick changes are required but are robust and reliable enough for heavy-duty, commercial use in HVAC systems.
With the axial PM motor, manufacturers have a completely new way to look at the design of HVAC and other thermal air moving systems all with significant implications toward reducing costs and improving performance.
The first consideration is the size and weight of the motor. Equipment manufacturers have always been limited to radial induction motors. The motors are inherently large, bulky and heavy and systems often must be designed to accommodate the motor. With axial PM motors, this design consideration changes completely.
The weight savings are dramatic at less than half the weight of traditional conventional radial motors. The lower weight, combined with the potential for much smaller overall systems packages, can fundamentally change the way systems are installed at an end user’s facilities, often eliminating the need for heavy installation equipment and weight-bearing mounting systems. The smaller, lightweight design also means smaller enclosures with lower installation costs and far less metal being required.
By understanding the significance form factor has to manufacturers and customers, the axial PM motor has been designed to reduce the length to under 15 centimeters, compared to the 35 to 41 centimeters currently in standard radial motors. With the compact, flat design, there is no longer a need to design around the motor, and the motor can be intentionally hidden inside a much smaller system.
Today’s HVAC manufacturers maintain an average of eight motor SKUs to meet the power requirements of different applications. Regal’s three variable speed axial PM motors range from 2.24 to 11.19 KW and provide the output to cut the average motor inventory in half. The motors are variable speed and allow for speed and KW configurations to cover a wide range of specifications while still optimizing system efficiency. By reducing the number of SKUs needed, manufacturers can lower their inventory costs.
With axial PM motors, selecting the right fan for the job can come down to one motor. Regal® motors are inherently tailored to a customer’s applications. This scalability means the motor can be set up and tuned to a customer’s specifications at the end of the line. The systems do not have to be built around their motors.
Serviceability is another cost-cutting factor and the UlteMAX motor has an integrated drive which is arranged in a circle around the motor. It is comprised of three PODs, which provide an electrical interface, customizable software and power conversion to the motor. These modular electronics are programmable and replaceable, meaning one technician can handle it, with less time and labor.
Powering the future
Knowing that much smaller, lighter and flexible motor technology could have enormous implications for the commercial HVAC industry, the team pushed the first commercial application for the axial PM motor towards that industry. Creating a game-changing motor for those systems is proof of concept for Regal’s axial PM motor advances. The concept has the potential to be introduced into new areas where size, weight, performance, reliability and configurability are equally important. Today, Regal design teams are working on further innovations to the axial platform, adding more power and robustness to the design addressing needs in pumping and general industries.