Sprint Electric win Innovate UK funding competition for groundbreaking industrial control technology

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Sprint Electric, a world leading manufacturer of drives for industrial motor control, has won Innovate UK funding for its groundbreaking Generis AC Regeneration drive. This patented AC drive technology provides precise control of AC electric motors combined with efficient energy regeneration, a need not adequately addressed by traditional AC variable frequency drives. 

Sprint Electric were selected as one of 28 successful applicants from 89 applications. The funding is from fifth round of the Innovate UK Investor Partnerships programme dedicated to supporting SMEs. 

Sprint Electric has been collaborating with the University of Nottingham since 2018, when they began to design laboratory-based silicon device -based prototypes of new core technology for a regenerative AC drive.  The first 22kw Generis drives are now ready to go to market and this funding will support the development of the Generis range to power outputs up to 250kW.

The unique capability of Generis is the drive gives full four quadrant control as standard, as well as unity power factor and minimal input current distortion. Four quadrant control removes the need for active front end drives or braking resistors, simplifying control of AC motors in complex applications.

The Generis will offer improvements regarding heat generation, motor accuracy and overall system efficiency. The AC regeneration drive will also create reduced running costs and will possess simple safety circuits. These aspects will be highly attractive to customers who appreciate the solid-state design, the improvement in lifespan and the reduced maintenance costs.

Sprint Electric have traditionally specialised in controllers for DC motors, which can return kinetic energy stored in the load back to the supply as electrical current. These DC controllers improve productivity of rotating machinery in applications all over the world whilst delivering significant energy savings.

In 2023, Sprint Electric received £2m of private equity investment from the Foresight Group and £500,000 from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund. 

Gary Keen, director at Sprint Electric, commented: “AC motors represent a market over 40 times that of DC motors, but there is currently no range of inverters (AC Variable Speed Drives) available that delivers effectively on efficient regeneration. Sprint Electric is capitalising on the gap in the market by creating an AC drive capable of regenerative operation and ultra-low harmonics.”

“This new technology will also have a huge impact in helping to reduce global power consumption. Modern industrial plant is responsible for the efficient mass manufacture and processing of all our material needs. World population has expanded rapidly and is sustained by industrial processes that require a large use of rotational energy. Energy consumption is expected to reach 35 trillion KWh by 2035 with 28% of all power consumed by electric motors (International Energy Efficiency, 2011). That is 9.8 trillion KWh. The World needs to maintain output and simultaneously reduce power consumption, a challenge in which we believe Generis will have an important role.” said Gary.

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