There are around 140
million circulating pumps being used in Europe. The motors’ lifespan is about
ten years which means that around 14 million new pumps are needed each year. These
all-rounders that keep our heating, drinking water and solar systems running
are powered by motors whose magnets contain neodymium-iron-boron or
samarium-cobalt. However, the global supply of the rare earths in these
compounds is limited.
The “Eco-Pump Drive”
project develops new electrical drive concepts for powering circulating pumps,
whose magnets are completely free of rare earths. Moreover, they are powerful
and very energy-efficient. The key to the new resource-conserving technology:
the principle of a synchronous reluctance motor. This type of motor is already
established at higher power ranges.
The project coordinator, the company KSB, has developed this synchronous reluctance motor to market readiness for industrial pump applications. In cooperation with the Competence Center Mechatronic Systems at the University of Applied Sciences Kaiserslautern, the experts are now working on adapting the reluctance principle to the specifications of circulating pumps for domestic use and for commercial installations. Once this has been managed, the “Eco-Pump Drive” innovation can be mass produced.
The project partners have structured their
three-year cooperation into several development phases. First of all, the
electromagnetic motor design is drawn up in detail. Then the motor is
constructed, as is a blueprint and implementation of the corresponding control
algorithm. Once this precision work has been completed, the experts construct
various prototypes that have to pass test runs in the laboratory before moving
onto the industrial demonstration stage.