Given a summer filled with rolling blackouts and rising gas prices, it’s easy to understand why we must find ways to save energy. It also comes as no surprise that as humankind continues to advance, bringing forward better ways to compute, entertain and communicate, so too must the energy efficiency of these devices.
Power management technology provides the cornerstone for saving energy, and in doing so, raising the global standard of living. In fact, up to 30% of the world’s projected energy demand in 2025 could be saved through the implementation of readily available power management advancements.
Take, for instance, electric motors. They are found everywhere—in home refrigerators, office air conditioners, grocery store freezer cases and factory automation. About 50% of the electricity we consume today flows to these motors, half of which could be saved by an upgrade enabled by power management technology, called electronic or variable-speed motion control.
Another case in point is lighting where we use about 20% of our electricity. The compact fluorescent lightbulb and linear electronic ballast, both enabled through power management technology, have delivered up to 75% greater efficiency compared to incandescent lighting. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and other advancements will open the door to even more savings.
Then there’s transportation, where the strain we’re feeling at the pump is continuing to drain the cash from our pocketbooks. Worse yet, carbon emissions are leaving an unwanted legacy for our children to deal with and endangering our environment. The same electronic motion-control technology that makes today’s energy-efficient washing machines a marvel of features and functions to behold can transform a vehicle into one that requires 60% less energy.
With so much promise, many wonder why energy-efficient technology hasn’t been quickly adopted. Until now, it has largely been a matter of economics. Device makers are unwilling to add cost, because we as consumers want lower prices along with greater value. The enabling technology advancements, until recently, were too costly.
Now, cost parity between the old and new systems has been brought about by the industry’s push to innovate. By approaching the problem at a systems level, integrated solutions pull together an array of technology and blend silicon, software, packaging and architecture to deliver easy-to-use platforms to device makers.
International Rectifier’s iMOTION integrated design platform demonstrates the power in taking a systems-level approach. It delivers a complete variable-speed motor control subsystem from the front panel and power entry to the motor terminals, including digital, analog and power silicon as well as algorithms, development software and design tools.
Platforms like these not only lower the cost of the technology being delivered, but also slash the energy needed to operate the device while enabling greater functionality, such as the better spin cycles, quieter operation and range of fabric care options available in the new generation of washing machines. For the design engineer, these platforms eliminate the need for a specialized knowledge set, such as analog or digital signal processing expertise and algorithm development, which could take years to develop and tack on considerable design risk and time delays.
At International Rectifier, we’ve made it our mission to tackle the toughest problems in power management. We’re guided by our fundamental belief that high-order problems generally cannot be solved with one discrete technology or by looking at the problem through the eyes of a store owner trying to move last season’s inventory.
Thinking about the problem first at a systems level and then solving it by integrating the right technologies delivers higher-order solutions, ones capable of saving energy and advancing the course of computing, communication and entertainment so we can all benefit through a higher standard of living.