$1.75m grant for energy saving technology

Thursday 15 May 2008, 7:04PM
By Pete Hodgson


Minister of Research, Science and Technology Pete Hodgson is welcoming a $1.75 million grant to the innovative Auckland electric motor company Wellington Drive to research advanced electronics for its products.

“The kind of research and development being done by this company is exactly what the government is trying to encourage for the long-term, high-tech development of local industry,” says Pete Hodgson.

Government funding agency the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology has approved a grant of $1.75 million for Wellington Drive to research advanced electronics suitable for use within industrial and commercial electric motors, together with special-purpose software for Wellington motor applications.

The grant has been approved as part of the Foundation’s Technology for Business Growth programme, which supports the growth in capability within companies by partially funding technically challenging research and development projects to develop innovative new products, processes and services that grow an organisation.

“I recently visited Wellington Drive and I was impressed by what I saw,” said Pete Hodgson. “The company’s radical technology, which uses unique embedded software, results in the motors using about a third of the energy, and requiring significantly less steel and copper, than conventional motors.”

Wellington Drive motors, which are made primarily of polymers and advanced ceramics, use only 20 per cent of the steel involved in conventional motors and 40 per cent less copper.

Additional energy savings are achieved through simplified production processes which also result in reducing secondary production costs. Wellington Drive motors are used in a range of equipment such as supermarket refrigeration units, vending machines, filter fans for clean rooms in semiconductor fabrication plants, hospitals and the biotech sector and ventilation systems.

It sells its products as manufacturing components to customers in 14 countries, including Australia and the USA.

“I am told that one US customer claims energy savings of more than $US 100 million annually from energy saving initiatives that include Wellington Drive motors and another is using up to 600 Wellington Drive motors a day as part of a construction programme involving the opening of 15 new supermarkets a week,” says Pete Hodgson.

“Every Wellington Drive motor installed in supermarkets represents a reduction in annual carbon emissions of between 250 and 300 kilograms, making considerable savings over the 10 year life of the motors.”