C-Motive Technologies Receives $721,000 Grant for C-Machine Development

Madison, WI – Local startup C-Motive Technologies today received a Phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Science Foundation to develop its revolutionary electric motor design, called the C-Machine. The $721,090 grant will provide 2 years of research and product development work, ultimately delivering a commercial C-Machine prototype.

“We are both thrilled to make this motor a commercial reality, and grateful to the many people and organizations that helped us write the winning proposal,” said C-Motive CEO Dr. Justin Reed. “The basic idea behind this motor actually goes back a few hundred years, but the technology to make it practical and competitive didn’t exist until very recently. Most people don’t realize that this basic motor design, called an electrostatic or capacitive motor, preceded the electromagnetic motor you see today by about a hundred years. But the technology at the time allowed the electromagnetic motor to deliver superior performance and it quickly took off.”

However, the electromagnetic motor is now roughly 150 years old and is subject to only incremental technological advances to increase performance. In fact, the materials used to build them today are not very different from the original ones: steel, copper, and often permanent magnets which, over the last 25 years, have increasingly used rare earth materials. When the motors themselves must move, for example in electric vehicles or airplanes, manufacturers seek out the lightest weight motors available in order to reduce fuel consumption and increase energy efficiency. But the motors of today cannot avoid the same basic, heavy materials.

“The C-Machine will change all that,” said Reed. “From increasing energy efficiency to cutting manufacturing costs, eliminating gearboxes to increasing system reliability, this new take on a very old idea will deliver the first radical change to electric motors in over a century. Looking beyond, we believe that the C-Machine will provide advances across industries that just weren’t possible or practical with conventional motors.”

Dr. Justin Reed founded C-Motive Technologies in 2012 with Prof. Dan Ludois of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Prof. Ludois currently serves as the company’s Chief Science Officer. The company is commercializing several motive capacitor technologies for the $73B electric motor industry, and collaborates closely with UW-Madison. C-Motive is partially funded by, and is the exclusive licensee of multiple patents owned by, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). Additional funding was provided by the Daniel H. Neviaser Entrepreneurship Fund, the James Weinert Applied Ventures Capital Fund, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the Wisconsin Center for Technology Commercialization, and prominent Madison-area angel investors.

Capacitive Power Coupler (CPC™) Makes “Design World” News

Greetings friends! Another bit of good news to share.

Our capacitive power coupling device, the CPC, was highlighted in a recent article in the “Design World” on-line magazine for its potential benefits as a replacement for slip rings in wind turbines. Wind Power Engineering Reporter Paul Dvorak pointed to the CPC’s robust design, ability to tolerate strong vibrations, minimal maintenance requirements, and power density capabilities as advantages over existing slip ring technologies.  “Slip rings are expensive . . . and wear out at least once in a wind turbine’s 20 year life,” writes Dvorak.  “Recent rethinking of the device makes use of the capacitive-coupling phenomena . . .This non-contact approach is said to require no maintenance, and it’s more compact and lighter than inductive power transfer techniques.”  The article also explains some of the more technical aspects of the CPC’s design.  Click here to read the entire story.


C-Motive Invigorates APEC 2014

After driving nearly 20 hours straight in our adopted “Scooby-Doo Mystery Van,” we arrived in Forth Worth, TX from Madison, surprisingly energized and ready to introduce our Capacitive Technology Platform™ to design engineers from all over the world.   Though we were the youngest and smallest company to exhibit at the Applied Power Electronic Conference (APEC), we made quite an impact with our technology. One reporter from Electronic Design magazine wrote:  “the most intriguing booth was way in the back of the hall for a startup created by some folks from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.”  Check out the full posting here.   We got some curious looks as engineers passed by our booth, did a double take, and then reversed course to learn more.  We had some impressive visitors, including federal government officials and electrical vehicle designers for international OEMs. Even if we say so ourselves, our booth designed in-house by us, and executed on a tight budget at our local copy house franchise, looked as professional as the big guys.  See the picture.  Now, it’s back to work. Look for exciting developments in the next few weeks!

Bridge Round Behind Us

Hello from C-Motive's work-garage in Madison, Wisconsin, where we're celebrating the close of our first seed-stage bridge round.  We only stopped for a moment to relax, though, because we're busy readying our machines for the Applied Power Electronics Conference (APEC) March 16-20 in Forth Worth, Texas.  Come visit us at Booth 848 if you're out that way, we'd be glad to chat. We'll be presenting a live demo of our Capacitive Technology Platform™ for the first time on a national stage.

We've made some significant progress over the last couple months, watching our technology grow from prototype to the Beta test phase. Predictably, we've spent some long hours on SolidWorks™, MATLAB™ and SPICE. We're continually getting perplexed looks from workers at the local home improvement store due to the odd combinations of materials that we buy (today it was epoxy, Mason jars and pipe fittings). We've also discovered that the aroma of microwaved, day-old donuts meshes well with the fumes from our solder station. Who knew, right?

We're having a blast all the same.

Keep you posted,







C-Motive Partners with Top Global OEMs for Beta Tests in Two High Volume Applications.

MADISON—C-Motive is partnering with two Fortune 1000 companies to beta test its first product, a non-contact wireless power transfer device, in separate high-volume applications.

C-Motive’s Capacitive Power Coupler™ (CPC) is designed to replace high-maintenance slip rings and brushless exciters while providing greater control over the motor or generator.

“These beta tests will show that our products operate at unmatched efficiencies, provide significant cost-savings to OEMS, and are tough enough for heavy-duty use in dirty industrial environments,” said C-Motive CEO Justin Reed.

The CPC beta tests will be completed in December 2014.  C-Motive’s manufacturing partners have asked to remain confidential.

The CPC operates without copper windings and rare-earth magnet materials, using C-Motive’s patented Capacitive Technology Platform.  Each of C-Motive’s products is based on the fundamental technology of the CPC, which includes a proprietary, multidisciplinary set of innovations that set it apart, both in energy and cost efficiency, from similar products in existence or under development today.

NSF Awards C-Motive Small Business Innovation Research Grant

MADISON—The National Science Foundation awarded C-Motive Technologies $150,000 to develop the first commercially viable high torque electrostatic generator. NSF announced the Phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research award to C-Motive on December 18. Only 14 percent of applicants receive the highly coveted SBIR grants annually from NSF, after undergoing a rigorous review process that lasts several months. Madison, Wisconsin-based C-Motive received the maximum award available.

C-Motive’s research will focus on developing a generator for use in the large wind-turbine industry as well as for broader applications in the global electric machines marketplace. Called the C-Machine™, C-Motive’s generator is designed to produce high torque at low speed, and at less cost than any generator under development or on the market today.

C-Motive CEO Justin Reed said the NSF grant validates the technical merit and commercial viability of the C-Machine. 

“NSF scrutinizes the business potential of each applicant's innovation," said Reed.  "C-Motive's NSF grant confirms our belief that the C-Machine has significant market potential."

To be competitive with fossil fuels, wind turbine manufacturers must reduce costs with a lighter, cleaner, more energy efficient delivery system.  The C-Machine eliminates the need for a gearbox, which significantly reduces the size of the turbine tower and foundation.

The C-Machine is lighter than conventional generators because it runs without reliance on copper windings, steel laminations, or heavy magnets with expensive rare-earth materials. The C-Machine is designed to operate with 95 percent energy efficiency.

Rather than use magnetic fields to produce motion to create electricity, C-Motive’s C-Machine uses the electrostatic force of electric fields and is based on C-Motive’s patented Capacitive Technology Platform™.

A Letter From CEO Justin Reed Kicks Off C-Motive's Blog

Welcome to our C-Motive blog and newly redesigned web site. Here, you can follow our progress as we bring our capacitive electric machinery to market. First and foremost, our focus is on creating cost-saving products for OEMs, but we also take pride in the historic significance of our inventions. Both our motor and our coupler build upon Benjamin Franklin’s original explorations of how electricity is stored and transmitted.

Franklin proved that he could create mechanical motion using electrostatic forces, but he couldn’t create the torque and force necessary to produce any useful work, much less to be commercially viable. So arose Michael Watt’s steam engine, Michael Faraday’s electromagnetic motor, and ultimately Nikola Tesla’s inductive motor design, the modern age industrial workhorse.

Nothing fundamental has changed in how electric power is used within industry in the last 150 years, yet manufacturers crave a more energy- and cost-efficient alternative. C-Motive is providing the next generation in power solutions.

What C-Motive possesses that Franklin, Faraday, Tesla, and many others did not is a multidisciplinary approach to solving the capacitance problem that prevented electrostatic machines from working on an industrial scale. We’ve taken the latest advancements in electrical, mechanical and additional disciplines of engineering to create our Capacitive Technology Platform. The result is novel and elegant machines that operate without heavy magnets, copper windings, steel laminations or rare-earth materials, and that achieve efficiencies that are simply unmatched.

We’re partnering with two top global OEMs to Beta test our technology. We’re hard at work readying our products to retrofit their equipment. We’ll let you know the results as soon as we have them. 

In the meantime, peruse our site, read our published papers, look at our diagrams. We want to know your thoughts and impressions and whether you have an idea on how our Capacitive Technology Platform can help your business. We’ll provide regular updates as we discover more applications.

Thanks for reading,

Justin Reed, C-Motive CEO