Electric Motor Efficiency Regulations Part Two


Written by:
Kitt Butler and David Berkowitz, Advanced Energy

What pump manufacturers and pump users need to know about small electric motor regulations. Second of Two Parts.

Part One of this two-part article discussed Integral HP AC Motors from 1 to 500 hp covered by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA). Part Two addresses the new minimum efficiency small electric motor regulations introduced earlier this year.  

For the first time, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) adopted energy conservation standards for small electric motors in February 2010. DOE determined these standards will result in significant conservation of energy, and are technologically feasible and economically justified. Motors covered under these new regulations range from ¼ to 3 hp and include single and poly phase two, four and six pole general purpose motors in NEMA 42, 48 and 56 frames and corresponding IEC equivalent motors and frames. The new regulations will take effect in 2015, which is five years after the original publish date.

Tables 1 and 2 show these new minimum efficiency standard levels, which apply to all small electric motors manufactured for sale in the United States, or imported into the U.S. either as standalone items or as a part of a system.

  Standard levels for polyphase small electric motor

Table 1. Standard levels for polyphase small electric motor

Standard levels for capacitor-start induction-run and capacitor-start capacitor-

Table 2. Standard levels for capacitor-start induction-run and capacitor-start capacitor-run small electric motors

Potential Estimated Energy Savings from Small Electric Motor Rule

It is not possible to understand the impact of this new law on pump manufacturers or pump end users by simply looking at Tables 1 and 2. To help define the impact these changes will have with regard to energy savings, the DOE estimates the standards will save approximately 2.2 quads (quadrillion or 1015 British Thermal Units (BTU)) of energy during 30 years (2015-2045), which is the expected life of these new higher efficiency motors. This is equivalent to about 2.2 percent of total annual U.S. energy consumption.

One quad of energy is equal to more than eight billion gallons of gasoline or 36 million tons of coal. During this 30 year period, the DOE expects the energy savings from these new standards will eliminate the need for approximately eight new 250 MW power plants. The resulting carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction will be equivalent to an amount equal to that produced by approximately 25 million new cars in a year. The new standards will also reduce air pollution by eliminating production of approximately 81,000  tons (kt) of nitrogen oxides (NOX) emissions and approximately 0.49 ton of cumulative mercury (Hg) pollution will be avoided. The climate-related impacts as a result of this new motor regulation for these pollutants will be beneficial to all.

Compliance: Design Changes, Testing and Certification

To comply with the new regulations, motor manufacturers will need to change original motor designs significantly. Since additional active materials, like copper and steel, will be needed in motor designs to increase efficiency, the overall cost of motors will likely increase. Changes in manufacturing tooling to build more efficient designs may also be required. Non-recurring engineering may also drive costs higher as motor designs will need to change to achieve these higher efficiency levels. It is expected, however, that the resulting energy savings will cover most, if not all, of the additional first cost of the new designs for the end users. These potential increases in costs could be passed along to pump OEMs and pump end users.  

For pump manufacturers who purchase all of their motors and do not re-label them as their own, the motor manufacturer will most likely be responsible for the testing and documentation required to comply. Pump manufacturers who manufacture small electric motors, or re-label these motors from a motor supplier, will need to conduct the required testing and maintain careful documentation of test results.

With the increasing efforts to reduce product costs, it is common for equipment manufacturers and plant buyers to source motors for their equipment from low-cost regions. Motor manufacturers in these regions may not be familiar with the new federal requirements, which may result in negligence on the issue of compliance. Today, the equipment user or specifier must be proactive to ensure the manufacturer has a Compliance Certificate number (CC#). If the manufacturer does not have a CC#, the equipment specifier should contact the motor manufacturer to seek compliance before using those motors.

There are steps to take to achieve compliance. One of the widely used methods is to test the required number of samples of motors in a NVLAP (National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program) accredited test laboratory and file paperwork with the DOE. If the motor manufacturer already has an accredited laboratory, then it may be able to self-certify, otherwise it needs to contact other laboratories with NVLAP status.

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