New chips chop electricity use in half

Power semiconductor company International Rectifier Corp. unveiled on Thursday a new generation of chips it says can reduce electricity consumption by up to 50 percent in a range of appliances and industrial motors.

Power semiconductor company International Rectifier Corp. unveiled on Thursday a new generation of chips it says can reduce electricity consumption by up to 50 percent in a range of appliances and industrial motors.

26 June 2000 - International Rectifier said the new chips represent the latest advancements in a technology called power management.

"Power management breaks electrical power into small packets of electricity and then efficiently delivers exactly the type of power the end-product needs, exactly when it needs it," David Tam, the company's vice president of power integrated circuits, said in a statement.

The new chips make it possible to vary the speed and action of motors to wash clothes more gently, control refrigerator and air conditioner temperatures more precisely and gain versatility in leading-edge manufacturing plants, the company said.

Most standard motors run full-on or off, with no ability to change speed or torque.

Appliance makers jumping in
Appliance maker Maytag Corp. has already adopted the archetype chip for this proprietary product family, which substantially cuts energy use and improves performance in its Neptune washers, according to International Rectifier.

During the next 12 months, other major appliance makers plan to use the new generation of these chips and companies involved in factory automation and other industrial applications are adopting the same technology.

"We are integrating more and more functions into a single analog power integrated circuit that makes motors more versatile, more reliable and far more energy-efficient. And the greater level of integration makes the technology more cost-effective for mass-market applications," Tam said.

According to the Electric Power Research Institute, motors account for over half the energy consumed in the U.S.

Advancements in power management chips offer the potential to recoup much of the approximately $70 billion of electricity wasted every year by inefficient motors, the company said.

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