Contact: Dr Ehsan Abdi, CAPE, Cambridge University Engineering Department
Mentors: Adrian Swinburne

Wind Technologies were finalists in the 2007 CUE Business Creation Competition, using technologies developed in the Cambridge University Engineering Department since 1999. The research has recently matured, enabling practical and complete designs to be made with confidence, both for power generation techniques (wind turbines) and in the motor industry.

The team, led by Dr. Abdi, has developed a novel Brushless Doubly-Fed Machine (BDFM) to the point of commercial exploitation. The BDFM can be used as a low cost motor or generator. The applications of the BDFM as a generator in the wind turbine industry are well-understood. However, as a form of motor, its market has not yet been widely explored.

The BDFM promises significant cost-savings and size-reductions when compared to conventional variable speed drives. A variable speed drive comprises a motor and a power electronics converter, which is used to control the speed of the motor. In conventional systems, a fully rated converter (i.e. same size as the motor) is used, increasing the size and cost.

The BDFM is also highly reliable and its design means that it will require low levels of maintenance. Suggested applications so far include water pumps, gas compressors and electric vehicles. The i-Team’s challenge will be to investigate and recommend the applications which most benefit from the new motor’s key features, as well as to provide feedback on how the BDFM approach compares to existing methods in those cases.