Sunday 19 September 2021

Local innovation eliminates the need of a start capacitor to improve longevity of domestic appliances

A team of Engineers at Carlo Gavazzi has teamed up with researchers at the University of Malta to come up with HDMS – A High Dynamic Motor Starter which starts single phase motors – widely used in air-conditioning and pumps – that eliminates the need of a start capacitor whilst still starting with less than 1.2 times the motor’s nominal current.  This innovation was made possible with an investment of €200,000 through the R&I Fusion Fund which is administered by the Malta Council for Science and Technology.

The results of HDMS were disseminated during a half day Public Engagement event held at the Chaplain’s Hall at the EsploraPlanetarium Building, Kalkara. 

During his address,  the Minister for Equality, Research and Innovation the Hon. Owen Bonnici said,“The Government is committed to keep investing in research and innovation and I would also like to encourage other private entities to consider investing in research and innovation because they are indeed our future.”

“Without such collaborations,” Minister Bonnici continued, “These Research and Innovation projects would be impossible and I cannot stress enough the importance for our country to keep investing in the strengthening of the research and innovation pillar which is the key for our economic growth and competitive impact.”

In his opening remarks, Executive Chairman Dr Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando said that: “Malta’s manufacturing industry is an important component of the Maltese economy and it is inspiring to see tangible results, including those achieved by the HDMS project consortium. The long-term goal is to strengthen and expand Malta’s high-value manufacturing cluster by developing an international standing not only as a production base, but also as a testing ground for innovation. The Malta Council for Science and Technology, in its public capacity, strives to foster a social ethos driven by research and innovation so that this sector continues to contribute to the economic growth of our country. This is achieved through FUSION, the Council’s portfolio of funding programmes, where researchers and their unremitting pursuit of innovative ideas come to fruition and make a valuable contribution to the sustainability of the local economy.”

The Project leadear of HDMS Inġ. Jason Demicoli said “HDMS was a great journey of cooperation between Industry and Academia, bringing innovation to the market!  Starting by understanding the pain of our customers, we embarked on a challenging project based on our engineers’ competence, to develop and successfully launch an innovative fully patented Single Phase Soft starter”.

Typically single phase induction motors and compressors such as those used in heat pumps, water pumping and marine air-conditioning are problematic as during the start of these motors the large inrush current can reach levels of five to seven times the motor nominal current causing disturbance to the electrical grid or voltage sensitive equipment. The disturbance can cause voltage dips that can result in flickering of lights but can also disturb the operation of neighbouring equipment. Within off-grid installations (generator of PV) there might simply not be enough power to sustain this peak current and the generator or PV inverter might trip. To reduce this effect motor soft starting devices have been developed on the market, however these usally have a short lifetime since they all require a start capacitor to generate the required starting torque. Start capacitors are the weakest link in single phase soft starters and they tend to be the first components to fail as they are very senstive to high temperature and voltage fluctuations. 

The HDMS innovation, overcomes both issues of high starting current as well as the short start capacitor lifetime. In fact, field appication tests have shown that HDMS can start single phase motors with a 60 – 70% less current surge compared to a direct start. This innovation brings with it a number of benefits. Appliances will have a longer lifetime, it will bring less disturbance to the eletrical grid, easy integration with off grid powered motor applications, savings on lower maintance hence less machine stoppages and increase in the share of renewable energy sources which are included in the EU Renewable Engergy Sources directive.

The event was live streamed and may be followed:

Technical Presentations were delivered by the project team and a panel discussion led by a Esplora Science Communicator took place around the field. 

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