Is there a technology shift going on in the motor industry?

Water-cooled marine motor set to conquer new markets on shore.

You don’t want large motors to take up precious floor space – you need it for more productive purposes. ABB’s water-cooled M3LP 500 motor solves the space problem in a surprisingly elegant way. Highly appreciated by marine, and many other industries, too.

When launched for the marine industry in 2016, the M3LP 500 soon became a great success. Users outside of marine took an interest in the motor, too, from as diverse industry segments as mining, water and wastewater, and manufacturing. That is why ABB is now launching the motor for general industry application worldwide.

Driven by ever-heavier loads

The shipping industry had long struggled with space constraints. On ships, space is more restricted than almost anywhere else. Meanwhile, there is increasing pressure to ship more cargo every year, leading to larger vessels and larger motors, etc.

Conventional air-cooled motors in the megawatt-class are big and require spacious ventilation for their cooling, which takes up even more space on board. A problem not only experienced by the marine industry, as floor space is getting more costly and hard to come throughout industry.

Damp and dirty? Doesn’t matter.

Marine people asked themselves: “How do we increase motor power output and payload at a reasonable cost? Can we use another type of motor? Can we place our motors in otherwise unused spaces?”

Although highly space effective, many ships do have some unused locations, for example the narrow space next to the hull. However, these areas are often damp and dirty, so the spec for any motor operating there would have to be: “We need a compact and powerful motor, which will work trouble-free even in the most unpleasant operating conditions.”

A pretty tall order. What motor type could possibly meet such a spec? The answer is: a water-cooled frame-size 500 motor such as the M3LP 500 from ABB. Powerful, compact and robust.

Highest power density

So, what’s the secret behind ABB’s new motor? Water-cooled motors have high power density, or, power-to-weight ratio. Since water is a more effective cooling medium than air, the motor’s operating temperature can be kept relatively low. More power can therefore be extracted from the material.

In other words, a smaller water-cooled motor will provide as much – or more – output power as a larger conventional air-cooled motor. Customers can therefore free up space for more gainful purposes. Or, step up in power output and enjoy even more available space.

Extreme durability

Another advantage is that water-cooled motors don’t need any no external ventilation. Besides reducing capital expenditure for dedicated ventilation systems, this adds further to the motor system’s total compactness. And with no ventilation in place, a water-cooled motor can be tightly sealed, preventing pollutants from entering the motor’s interior.

Purpose built for use in harsh operating conditions, the M3LP 500 is equipped with a corrosion protected steel frame as opposed to traditional cast iron. There are no external cooling ribs, which tend to collect dirt on air-cooled motors, keeping the water-cooled M3LP 500 reasonably clean even in the dirtiest locations.

It is exactly the kind of extreme ruggedness and durability users are seeking to be able to rely on powerful, energy-efficient effective and continuous motor operation year after year.

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