2005 Purdue–Silicon Valley Symposia

Toward a Quantum Leap in the Design of Electric Machines

The effective use of energy is one of the most significant issues facing the world. As sources of cost-effective combustible fuel diminish, a focus is turning toward electromechanical energy conversion (i.e. electric machines) to provide the backbone for the energy transition. It is interesting to note that although increasingly important, electromechanical energy conversion is missing from most U.S. university curriculums—although not from Purdue’s. This is in large part due to the perception that there is little research to be performed in the area of electric machines (i.e. the novelty in the area created decades ago reflects the state of the art for all time).

In this presentation, I will propose that a fresh look at machine design is warranted and perhaps long overdue. This view is justified by the results of recent research into the behavior of magnetic fields within existing machines. Specifically, it is shown that under traditional design and control, the magnetic fields create a much greater radial force compared to tangential force. Stated another way, the byproduct force is much greater than the intended force. This result raises a question as to whether alternative geometries/excitation schemes can be developed to yield a more productive force profile, leading to machines that are much more power-dense, efficient, and fault-tolerant. Tools that can be used to address this question will be discussed, and promising new designs described.

Steve Pekarek

Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University

Steve Pekarek received his PhD in electrical engineering from Purdue University in 1996. From 1997-2004 he was an assistant (associate) professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla. Presently an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue, he is co-director of the Energy Systems Analysis Consortium.

As a faculty member he has been the principal investigator on several successful research programs, including projects for the Navy, Air Force, Ford Motor Co., Motorola, and Delphi Automotive Systems. The primary focus of these investigations has been the analysis and design of electric machines and power electronics for finite inertia power and propulsion systems.

Pekarek is an active member of the Institute of Electrical and Computer Engineers (IEEE) Power Engineering Society, the Society of Automotive Engineers, the Small Motor Manufacturer’s Association, and the IEEE Power Electronics Society.