In our world of high-technology -- with things like smartphones, tablet computers, digital cameras, GPS locators, and high-definition televisions -- it's easy to forget about more mundane items like motors and generators.
This is unfortunate, because there are humongous numbers of motors on the planet, and this number is growing rapidly. According to the Electric Motors in Non-Industrial Applications report from IHS Inc., the number of electric motors used in consumer-oriented products such as cars and electronic devices will grow to 12 billion units a year by 2018. Furthermore, electric motors currently consume around 45% of global electricity, according to CleanTechnica.com.
The problem with the vast majority of electric motors is that they are horribly inefficient. I mean, we're talking about 50% efficiency on a good day, with the rest of the energy dissipating as unwanted heat. In addition to the waste of energy and money, this excess heat may become overwhelming in an industrial setting, thereby requiring the use of more motors to drive air-conditioning systems and fans to remove the heat, where these motors also contribute to the problem.
Happily, there is a solution -- intelligent motor control. Using an appropriate microcontroller (MCU), the efficiency of the motor can be increased to 80% or higher, which is huge, whichever way you look at it. All of this explains why NXP has just announced its new LPC1500 series of MCUs that are targeted at motor-control applications.
The LPC1500 is optimized for the fast, easy, high-precision control of brushless DC (BLDC) motors (both sensored and sensorless), permanent magnet synchronous motors (PMSMs) (both sensored and sensorless), and AC induction motors (ACIMs) (sensored).
The benefit is to achieve precise speed and torque control, lower noise, and optimize motor efficiency in a wide range of markets and applications, including consumer (large home appliances), commercial (HVAC units, elevators, and escalators), and industrial environments (pumps and generators).
The LPC1500 is available with two complete motor control kits, including baseboards, motors, and free firmware. For example, consider the BLDC motor control solution shown below.
In closing, we should probably note that the LPC1500 MCU is also well-suited for a wide range of other applications, such as controlling digital power supplies, that require fast and precise closed-loop monitoring and control.
— Max Maxfield, Editor of All Things Fun & Interesting