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A fresh breeze for the dairy case

Leap from iQ to NiQ: The new gener­a­tion of energy-saving motors from ebm-papst is more effi­cient and econom­ical than its prede­ces­sors – and is even suit­able for use in the food sector.


Figure 1: The NiQ – the latest gener­a­tion of energy-saving motors from ebm-papst.

In refrig­er­ated display cases, dairy cases and bottle coolers in the commer­cial food sector, fans are in perma­nent use. This is why they hold great poten­tial for saving energy. The iQ motor – a compact motor for driving axial fans for cool air distri­b­u­tion in evap­o­ra­tors and cooling in condensers – has been avail­able for a long time. It uses proven Green­Tech EC tech­nology to achieve high effi­ciency rates. This is why food retailers and gas stations have success­fully relied on iQ motors from ebm-papst for some time.

Now the NiQ, the next gener­a­tion in the series, is on the market (Figure 1). The latest devel­op­ment from ebm-papst combines the proven prop­er­ties of the iQ and iQ2 motors with a new design – both inside and outside. The devel­opers were able to make the “next-gener­a­tion iQ” more effi­cient and above all, more econom­ical (Figure 2). And the new motor plat­form features enhanced func­tion­ality for a wider range of appli­ca­tions.

Motor design: opti­mized for low speeds

The NiQ is a completely new motor plat­form that currently provides three sizes with different levels of power. In accor­dance with the low speeds the appli­ca­tions typi­cally require, the motor has been opti­mized to 800 to 2,000 rpm and the corre­sponding torque. To achieve this, the devel­opers placed the entire motor design on the test stand and changed it at key points. In the NiQ, they replaced the current 4-pole design with a new 6-pole motor concept.


Figure 2: The effi­ciency of the new NiQ motor has been opti­mized beyond the level of its prede­ces­sors iQ and iQ2.

The motor with this design func­tions more closely to the ideal speed, which has a posi­tive impact on its effi­ciency and smooth oper­a­tion. Its modi­fied sole­noid tech­nology also boosts motor effi­ciency. The sintered hard ferrite magnets used in the NiQ have a higher magnetic rema­nence, allowing them to generate a higher motor effi­ciency level than the plastic-bonded ferrite magnets previ­ously used. They also added more improve­ments to the bearing struc­ture. Depending on customer require­ments, the NiQ can be deliv­ered with different bearing greases for condensers and evap­o­ra­tors.

And the modi­fied motor concept offers one more advan­tage. Due to the opti­mized mechan­ical motor design, the air gap between the rotor and the stator has been signif­i­cantly reduced. As a result, the torque is now a few percentage points higher. Overall, the devel­op­ment team at ebm-papst has changed the motor to create the perfect balance between effi­ciency and costs.

Housing design: inno­v­a­tive retro­fitting


Figure 3: Thanks to the revised motor concept and the modi­fied housing, the NiQ now has a round design.

The first impres­sion reveals that the NiQ is notice­ably different from its prede­ces­sors. Unlike the iQ with its distinc­tive aluminum cuboid shape, the NiQ relies on a more organic look (Figure 3). A round motor shape has emerged from the 6-pole design. This feature was trans­ferred to the housing. But despite their new concept, the NiQ motors are not ideal for new devel­op­ments alone. They also make retro­fitting easy. They have the same outer dimen­sions, mounting points and connec­tions as the Q and iQ motors – and the existing acces­sories are also iden­tical. The advan­tages of the NiQ can also be used for retro­fitting. 

The new mate­rial also played a role in shaping the NiQ. The devel­opers replaced the current aluminum housing with plastic. From a manu­fac­turing point of view, the new round design show­cases the NiQ’s advan­tages. Manu­fac­turing with plastic is much less energy inten­sive than aluminum, and the new mate­rial easily meets the spec­i­fi­ca­tions for degree of protec­tion IP54. The PPC-based mate­rial resulted in two funda­mental func­tional inno­va­tions. It meets the prereq­ui­sites for protec­tion class 2 and the require­ments of the US Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion, EU regu­la­tion 10/2011/EU, the frame­work regu­la­tion 1935/2004/EC and regu­la­tion 2023/2006/EC.

Plastic easily meets the spec­i­fi­ca­tions for degree of protec­tion IP54.

The NiQ is not only cali­brated for use in harsh envi­ron­ments with a temper­a­ture range of -40 °C to +50 °C, but also func­tions without a protec­tive earth and can be used in indi­rect contact with food. This is a key advan­tage for appli­ca­tions in refrig­er­ated display cases for fruit and vegeta­bles, for example. Finding the right plastic was a major devel­op­ment chal­lenge: it had to meet protec­tion class 2 and satisfy the require­ments of the regu­la­tions.

Wound around the stator

The modi­fied design and intel­li­gent mate­rial selec­tion were not the only factors contributing to the NiQ’s increased economic effi­ciency; pioneering produc­tion changes also played a role. The devel­opers achieved a reduc­tion in the NiQ’s total number of parts. And for the motor assembly, threaded fasteners are a thing of the past. Plug-in processes are the only ones used. These changes create the condi­tions for auto­mated produc­tion.

But the new winding tech­nique is the most impor­tant reason for increased produc­tion effi­ciency. Until now, the stators for EC or DC motors have used the “needle winding tech­nique.” Now ebm-papst uses a linear winding process that is perfectly harmo­nized to the new design. The winding result is more even than with the needle winding tech­nique.

This is not only a matter of aesthetics: the devel­opers selected a more appli­ca­tion-friendly certi­fi­ca­tion concept with a special thermal sensor for the NiQ. This inno­v­a­tive concept can only be imple­mented with an extremely even winding result.

Consis­tent plat­form concept

Avail­able func­tions for the NiQ

Reverse on Start

NiQ_reverse_on_oWhen starting, the NiQ runs in reverse for a pre­defined time to blow away the dust collec­ted in the con­den­ser’s heat ex­chang­er.

Reverse on Demand

NiQ_reverse_on_Users can de­ter­mine the time and du­ration of re­verse oper­ation as re­quired, for ex­ample when the eva­porat­or de­frost cycle is used for the dust re­moval pro­cess.

Two Speeds

NiQ_two_speedsTwo speed levels are pre-programmed in the fac­tory. Thus, the app­li­ca­tion can be run in dif­ferent day and night modes for even great­er ener­gy sa­vings.

Although the NiQ only comes in three sizes, from the tech­nical view­point they replace several sizes of the old AC motor tech­nology used in the Q motor. The catalog versions are avail­able as 5 W (NiQ 3208), 12 W (NiQ 3212), and 18 W (NiQ 3224) output power with speeds between 1,300 and 1,550 rpm. And as required, the NiQ provides all the extra func­tions of the iQ2 motor: reverse on start, reverse on demand, or two speeds (see box).

The produc­tion line also reflects this plat­form concept. Along most of the line, iden­tical motors are produced and assem­bled in three sizes. The actual variant is gener­ated only at the end of the produc­tion line. This means that the motor obtains the required elec­tronic version in the last step, when the soft­ware is loaded onto the printed circuit board.

And instead of the former pre-installed cable, a plug-in cable that meets customer require­ments is provided sepa­rately. These changes bring customers other advan­tages in addi­tion to saving costs. The reduc­tion in vari­ants simpli­fies ordering and ware­housing because there are fewer item numbers. ebm-papst is also more flex­ible in rela­tion to the market: customers receive their prod­ucts much more quickly.

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The NiQ motor

Our latest generation of energy-saving motors.