Turntide Technologies is leveraging a 21st Century software to make a 19th-century innovation even better.
We may be on the verge of a new era in electricity generation. By upping the efficiency of motors, Turntide Technologies Inc, a startup based in California, is trying to broach a new revolution.
Motors are the force behind the workings of many of the items that we use every daylight, fans, etc. – and if we can boost the efficiency and power of motors, we can make everything better.
Motors gobble up half the electricity in the world.
Turntide has already raised $80 million in investor funding, this money comes from a list of investors that includes Tony Fadell who created the iPhone, Robert Downey Jr. who played Iron Man, and Bill Gates.
Why are all these big names backing this early-stage company? It could be because they want to be part of a possible new revolution in technology. More efficient motors could change everything.
Electric motors use electromagnets to create energy from electricity. Electromagnets work by generating magnetic fields that turn rotors.
Conventional motors waste a large portion of the magnetic field. Only some of it helps turn the rotors.
The magnets within the motor hold the key to upping its efficacy. What Turntide did was to turn the magnets on and turn them off rapidly – they can go off and go on up to 20,000 times in one second.
Applying the process correctly can enable the motor to work just as hard with 30% of the electricity that a conventional motor would achieve.
According to company CEO Ryan Morris, electric motors have been around since the 1830s. But it was only when computer chips became cheap and widely available, that they achieved the capacity for fine control to work like they do today.
Morris says that what this 19th-century innovation needed to bring out its potential was some 21st-century software.“They figured out how to use a 19th-century technology and use software to make it do what it always had the potential to do,” he said in an interview.
Normal motors waste a large portion of that magnetic field. What Turntide has done is to optimize motor production so that it generates energy while consuming only 30% of the electricity that normal motors use.
Turntide is now serving a niche target buyer. They help make the ventilation systems of large buildings more efficient by replacing older electric motors with their newer, more efficient versions. The cost savings are enough to recoup the investment within the first three years.
Turntide celebrated a milestone of 5,000 motor replacements at the end of 2020. In 2021, the startup has an even more ambitious goal; to replace an additional 50,000 motors.
Ironman actor Robert Downey Jr. was impressed by the growth of the company, as well as its contribution to the environment by cutting down emissions.
Said Robert Downey Jr, “They figured out how to use a 19th-century technology and use software to make it do what it always had the potential to do.”
In true 21st century fashion, the company’s manufacturing takes place across different locations: China, India, and Taiwan. But even as they outsource manufacturing, Turntide still controls the Intellectual property from California.
In the words of Morris, the product is ‘software wrapped in metal.’
Over the years, Downey has leveraged his celebrity status and wealth to contribute towards environmental causes.
For now, the product is serving a niche market, but the company hopes to take over the auto industry soon. The technology was initially meant to achieve more efficiency in electric cars, but its use in the auto industry is limited so far.
Turntide is now looking into how the new, better motors can make compressors and pumps function better.