17 companies join low-energy project

Seventeen European companies have formed a research team that aims to reduce the energy consumption of electronic appliances.

Infineon Technologies said it will coordinate the SmartPM (Smart Power Management in Home and Health) project with a plan to cut energy consumption by 25 per cent overall. The main targets are electric motors and the power supplies used in computers.

Infineon claimed electronically controlled motor drives in household appliances such as refrigerators, air-conditioning systems, washing machines or dishwashers could see an increase of energy efficiency of up to 35 per cent. According to several market research institutes, approximately up to 60 million server units shall be in operation until 2011. A server consumes an average of 600W which corresponds to a global consumption of 36GW. Even a reduction in demand by 1 per cent, corresponding to 360MW, would be equivalent to the capacity of a hydroelectric power station.

In the SmartPM project, the 18 companies will work together to develop system architectures, power modules, chip-sets and specific driver ICs. The semiconductor technologies under investigation include silicon, silicon-on-insulator (SOI) and silicon-carbide (SiC).

The SmartPM project, which will finish in January 2012, has a total budget of approximately €20m, half of which is borne by the partners. It is supported by a financial grant of approximately €3.3m from the European Nanoelectronics Initiative Advisory Council (ENIAC) as part of the Framework 7 research programme “SP4 Nanoelectronics for Energy & Environment”. The project will also receive more than €6m from national funding agencies.

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