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Future of Motors


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Hi everybody.


I just would like to know everyone's vision about the future

of motors: control, maintenanace and perhaps teaching electric machines?


Will the control be entirely static (no electromagnetic relays,

resistors, etc) or conventional methods will still prevail in the

next 50 years?


What is the future of motor drive maintenance, repair and



What will be the future of teaching power electronics, motors,

generators and drives?


What will be the future for linear motors?


Will big DC motors vanish in the next 50 years?

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Wow, that's a load of thinking for a Friday afternoon!


50 years is a long time to forecast. Who would have thought in 1955 that things would have progressed as far as they already have? And 50 years before that they were only just installing the very first electricity distribution systems!


I can't see motor control being totally solid state in the near future yet, not until the voltage drop across semiconductors is solved. Superconducting theory held out some promise there, but that has not proven out as of yet. It may very well be however that electro-mechanical devices will become largely relegated to bypass duty and the smallest of applications. Electro-mech is still too cheap for solid state to compete with. It is going to be difficult for a long time to get a 2HP 3 phase VFD down to the US$9 price level where contactors can be! However, the new RoHS rules may someday turn that around by making the electro-mech more expensive.


Drive maintenance is already becoming outdated on smaller drives, and that trend will only continue upwards. That said, drive applications have only scratched the surface of large motor systems, so you will likely see service still taking place, but only on bigger and bigger drives. I would not waste time learning to fix a 20HP VFD right now, except as a training tool for servicing 200HP VFDs, and even then, keep learning and growing to stay relevant.


The same will hold true for teaching. Theory will always be needed because someone will need to design, manufacture and improve smaller drives, but as far as teaching drive maintenance etc., think large.


Linear motor applications will grow for quite a while yet, because they really make sense in applications where currently a linear / rotary actuator or mechanical transmission is used. At some point though, the growth will become limited. Keep in mind that 60% of all electric motors are on pumps, another 20% on compressors of some sort. A linear motor offers nothing there.


I think that large DC motors will in fact vanish within 50 years. Of course, I said 20 years ago that they would vanish in 20 years!

"He's not dead, he's just pinin' for the fjords!"
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