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.