Friday, December 3, 2010


The wall is beginning to crack open. Maybe it's all the press about energy efficiency or maybe it's induction motor consumers looking for something higher tech, but the benefits of BLDC technology are sinking in.
However, they is one important hang up. Many manufacturers who now use induction motors in their products have never had electronics, much less power electronics, in their products. It's a new technology to them and they are understandably reluctant to take the risk. Unfortunately, unlike its lower powered cousins, power electronics can fail dramatically. Some manufacturers have had bad experiences in the past where failures released the "magic smoke" of burning electronics. An interesting case in point was the recent failure on the new Boeing 787 in flight tests. Here is a link describing that system
Here is a link describing a probable cause:

All of us in the power electronics industry must do our part to enhance and demonstrate reliability. There is no inherent reason a motor drive or an inverter can't be as reliable as century old technologies like induction motors, but we are going to have to prove it to the world.

To that end, we at the IEEE Twin Cities chapter Power Electronics Society (PELS), of which I am a member, are presenting talk by Eric Persson of International Rectifier on "A fresh look at FET failure mechanisms during fast switching"

Click on the link to go to the IEEE site for the meeting details.

Hopefully, under the PELS banner we can foster more discussion of this topic.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Start ups

The NY Times recently published the results of a study on job creation that refined the concept that most new jobs come through small business. The twist was that the vast majority of new jobs were in new businesses, both small and large. All recessions are a time of turbulent business evolution, with some business models fading away and new ones emerging. I've been through many in 34 years  but this one is by far the most evolutionary. Business models that have stood for over a century in manufacturing, publishing, transportation and communication are dying. The opportunity is that the needs are not going away. If anything, they are even greater. What will change is the business model for meeting those needs.

An interesting nuance this time around is that the 2010 model start up can hit the ground running by outsourcing, just like the big boys, but without the overhead. At GBOX LLC we have clients that we meet with over the internet via web meetings. We team up with other vendors and collaborate electronically. We even observe and run tests remotely or have client and team members observe tests in our lab remotely. Within the U.S., overnight shipping has reduced transportation delays to  a minimum.

At the same time, awareness of  the life-cycle costs of electrical powered equipment has grown. We are all aware of the energy cost of running our cars because we are reminded every time we fill up. That hasn't been true for electric motor use. The Department of Energy estimates that the cost of running a standard induction motor 24/7 for 10 years is 50 times the original purchase price. Just a 10% increase in energy can have a big payback. In fact, the the Energy Independence and Security Act of  2007, which becomes effective on December 19, 2010, requires minimum energy ratings for particular classes of induction motors.

It's a perfect time to get out the "white sheet of paper" and redesign motor driven products or systems that haven't been touched in years, something start ups are uniquely suited for. We can help you drill down to use the latest motor and power electronics to achieve efficiencies above 90%.

Good luck to the 2010 class of start ups out there and let me know if you could use us on your team.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Welcome to my blog on Digital Power.
What is Digital Power? It's the combination of digital intelligence in the form of micro controllers and digital signal processors to the general problem of handling power. It's estimated by the IEEE that 60% of all electricity in the United States passes through a semiconductor sometime between generation and consumption, a figure that will eventually reach 100%- and that's grid power. Off grid, digital power can be found in hybrid vehicles, electric actuators to replace hydraulics and even lawnmowers.

Why is this important? One word; efficiency. For example, 65% of all electricity in the U.S. is used by motors running at 60% to 70% efficiency. Digital power can boost these efficiencies to 90%+ and every watt not consumed is a watt that doesn't need to be generated (or paid for). That's by far the greenest, and cheapest, energy available!

From time to time I'll post developments in and comments on this not very visible but vital field. Feel free to add your comments or ask questions.

As for my background; I'm a consultant in the field of Digital Power Conversion. You can check out my website at or follow me on Twitter @digpwrengr.

Again, thanks for stopping by!