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Design Challenges for Brushless DC Motors and Their Drives

Design Challenges for Brushless DC Motors and Their Drives

The efficiency of brushless DC motors has made them the ideal choice for applications where small size, low weight, controllability and high torque are desirable, such as in appliances, power tools and a wide range of industrial and consumer uses.

Generating rotary motion was one of the first experiments carried out with electricity in the 18th century – an ‘electric whirl’ was invented, actually an electrostatic reaction motor, but it was just seen as a novelty. Today, electric motors consume 53% of global electricity production, according to ‘4E Electric Motor Systems Annex’ (EMSA) [1]. Another report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) states that typically 95% of a motor’s lifecycle cost is electricity to power it and if users change to the most efficient motors and drives, by 2030, global electricity demand could be reduced by 24-42 TWh, representing 16-26 Gt reduction in CO2 emissions. All this is in a market worth nearly USD 142 billion, growing at an expected 6.4% CAGR according to market analysis in 2020 [2].

When the long view of capital expense payback, operating costs and environmental loading is considered, there is therefore every incentive to update to, and build-in the best performing motors with smart control. There is also regulatory pressure to improve, with international standards for efficiency being imposed, for example IEC 60034-30-1 for line-operated AC motors, defining levels IE1 to IE4 with increasing efficiency. The ideal motor does depend on the application however and there is a range to select from. Qorvo [4] estimates that in a typical affluent western home, there might be 48 induction motors, 14 brushed DC, 4 universal AC-DC and 26 brushless DC motors. In all, 61 line-powered and 31 battery-powered.

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