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Pakistani Engineers Reinvent the Fan

By Nushmiya Sukhera

Those who live in Pakistan know the feeling of sitting through a hot summer afternoon without electricity. This is often accompanied by a dysfunctional Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), which further deteriorates the situation.

However, the latest technology in ceiling fans promises to not only reduce the running cost of the device but also provide a system whereby the fan may be directly powered from an alternative energy source.

Dr. Tauseef Tauqeer is the Head of Department for Electrical Engineering at Information Technology University (ITU) in Lahore. He started working on this project with the help of his Research Associate, Afnan Ansari, while Dr. Tauqeer was the Head of Department of Power, Electronics and Control at the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST). They continued their research after shifting to ITU and made their final model of the technology behind energy efficient fans. They have now received their first order of 1000 pieces for an industry in Pakistan.

bldc-drive-designed-by-pakistani-engineers

BLDC Drive Designed by Pakistani Engineers

This new technology for fans incorporates a feature called the Brushless DC (BLDC) drive which consumes less power than the fans traditionally installed in houses. Currently, ceiling fans use up 80-100 watts of electricity, whereas this technology promises to consume only 32 watts, without compromising on the speed and air delivery of the fan. This significant difference in the watts used by both fans translates into a marked decrease in electricity bills of a household.

Read more: Diversifying the Energy Basket

The electricity in Pakistan suffers from periods of sags and swells, which means the the voltage is either too high or too low than the desired 230 Volts that should be supplied at all times. Apart from affecting the performance of fans, these sags and swells may also damage the appliance, sometimes beyond repair. However, the technology used in this energy efficient fan maintains the nominal voltage level irrespective of the voltage being supplied by the main grid, therefore providing optimum performance throughout the day.

bldc-drive-embedded-within-a-fan

BLDC Drive Embedded Within a Fan

This fan requires a battery bank, which is already installed in houses with a UPS. The battery bank is charged through the main grid which makes the fan work during power outages. Houses without a UPS can purchase a small battery separately and directly attach it to the fan. If customers incur the one time cost of a solar panel for their homes, the battery can also be charged by the solar panel, which further reduces electricity bills as the pressure is alleviated from the main grid.

“Our main competitors are chinese fans which have similar features and technology,” says Dr. Tauqeer. “But they are much more expensive and are not customized according to our region. As a result, their air delivery is less and the size is smaller.”

Ansari further explains that these chinese fans cannot be repaired locally unlike the fans using their technology, which has not only been manufactured with parts available in Pakistan but is also repairable in the local market.

Currently, the chinese fans cost PKR 10,000-12,000, while this new variant costs approximately PKR 5000. To be of the highest quality, a fan’s service value must be more than or equal to 4.0 m3/min. Fans using the BLDC technology developed by the ITU duo exceeds that amount and equals 4.6 m3/min.

“If Pakistan’s manufacturing industry starts making fans with this technology, more than 1000 GWh energy can be saved per year, which is 3.5% of domestic use currently,” says Ansari.

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  • Tamoor Ali

    This is really interesting that it is coming from a very top of line university members but I really feel sorry that it does not even fall under category of Product Development. Thinking of new research is far away for this product idea since this motor is very old technology and also a low voltage BLDC motor with hall sensor requirement. Now the world is working on sensor less algorithm and high voltage BLDC with much higher efficiency and 7 star ratings. Attaching same motor coming from a Chinese supplier actually.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5940db495f513cf439d152fcca66be1e73d1fd858264ec739d7318a0ff561a22.jpg

    • Muhammad Afnan Ansari

      Thank you for your comment. I am sure that many motor manufactures in the world are currently investigating the BLDC topology because of its energy efficient design. I would like to highlight that the proposed design is not mere a DC Ceiling Fan. It is a universal fan with dual mode operation (input can be AC as well as DC with automatic switching using Power Electronic module) with in build battery charger as well. The fan retains its air delivery performance in both cases. The beauty about this work is that it can sustain unpredictable interruptions such as voltage sags and swells in the main grid without compromising air delivery and can also work on the solar directly. Such cost effective ceiling fan with customized features which are specially designed to suit Pakistan environment is not currently available in the market.

      Another aspect of this work is that the circuit is capable of sensor less technology and thus has reduced cost. We have implemented senseless and sensor topology on the same chip and there are jumpers on the circuit to switch operation. This research concluded with a comparison of both topologies which explain the pros and cons. Since all the circuits, PCB layouts designs and micro-controllers codes are made in house, such circuit can be customized further for use other applications such as pump motors. Now we have our own customized module, we are currently working on making it “IOT” compatible. Please note that all of the technical aspects and design of the circuit are not shared in the article as it is aimed for larger audience.

      The success here is the industry-academia collaboration which is missing in Pakistan right now and this is just the first step to win trust of the industry to believe in such collaborations in Pakistan. I hope the spirit of work will be appreciated by you. If you are interested in this work, please drop an email at Afnan.ansari@itu.edu.pk for further details.

      • Tamoor Ali

        Surely, we can meet up. We are already aligned with many Engineering Universities of Pakistan like UET and Comsats, Lahore to promote ARM core microcontrollers (mainly STM32F4) and many other IoT stuff. You can approach me also: tamoor.baig@st.com

  • faizan

    May I have your contact details @afnan ansari?

  • Bilal Hafeez

    Hi @muhammadafnanansari:disqus , How local manufacturers of fan industry can collaborate with you to implement this piece of work?

  • awais

    a.o.a kya ye fan market ma aa gaya ha agr nahi to kub aiy ga or kahan se milay ga i want to buy this fan

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