Smart chips to cut energy costs

Welsh scientists are part of a consortium that has been awarded a grant of almost $1.9 million to drive forward smart microchip technology – the next generation of power electronics with the potential to radically reduce the world’s energy consumption, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers reported.
By Staff September 1, 2006

Welsh scientists are part of a consortium that has been awarded a grant of almost $1.9 million to drive forward smart microchip technology — the next generation of power electronics with the potential to radically reduce the world’s energy consumption, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers reported.

The research team at Swansea University’s Electronics Systems Design Centre, Swansea, Wales, was awarded the funding through the Department of Trade and Industry’s, London, technology transfer competition. The team will carry out the project in partnership with Zetex, Oldham, England and X-Fab (Devon, England) – the two largest semiconductors companies in England.

Petar Igic, PhD, director of the Swansea Centre, said effective energy management in volume chip applications — in areas as diverse as PC power supplies, motor drives for domestic white goods, mobile telecommunications, automotive and aerospace — could deliver step change reductions in energy wastage.

It is estimated that less than 25% of the world’s electricity is efficiently managed, and effective power management through smart chip technology holds the key to over $400 billion annual savings in electrical energy. “The technology has the capacity to make a significant impact both on next generation industrial competitiveness and on sustainability issues in the field of engineering,” explained Dr. Igic.

“The commercial potential is massive,” he added. “For example the production of a single chip motor drive with efficient speed control used in white goods such as washing machines, would on its own save 20% of current energy usage per house.”