Oak Ridge National Laboratory


News Release

Media Contact: Ron Walli (wallira@ornl.gov)
Communications and External Relations


ORNL computer program calculates motor's efficiency

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., May 7, 1996 — Businesses that use three-phase industrial motors are likely customers for a new, interactive computer program that can measure a motor's efficiency and load as it runs.

The user-friendly program, developed at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), should be a valuable tool to the textile, steel, food processing and a number of other industries, according to Pedro Otaduy, a researcher in ORNL's Engineering Technology Division and developer of the computer program. In many of these industries, the cost of motors and electricity is significant, and the program can help businesses more precisely match a motor to a job. It can also help engineers and technicians determine whether a motor is operating properly.

Otaduy's program, developed as part of DOE's Motor Challenge Program and named ORMEL96 (Oak Ridge Motor Efficiency and Load 96), uses information found in the motor's name plate to develop a model of the motor. The name plate includes a number of specifications, including horsepower, the number of poles, current requirements and the motor's design class. To use the program, all that is required is a simple measurement of the motor's speed. ORMEL96 does the rest.

While other methods exist to measure a motor's efficiency and load, they are often based on approximations and "rules of thumb," Otaduy said. "Bringing the computer into the equation made a tremendous difference in precision." In addition, other methods require multiple measurements and stopping and/or disconnecting the motor, which is cumbersome and time-consuming. ORNL's method allows for assessment of the motor and drive system while they are operating, with minimal intrusion.

ORNL is distributing the program to partners of DOE's Motor Challenge Program, which funded the bulk of the research. Otaduy also received support from the Oak Ridge Centers for Manufacturing Technology, a nationally recognized manufacturing technology resource. Licensing arrangements for the program are being handled by Lockheed Martin's Office of Technology Transfer.

ORNL, one of DOE's multiprogram national research and development facilities, is managed by Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corporation.