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Electrical & Computer Engineering Research

ECE Energy Systems - Bearingless Motor inner coil

Energy systems

Electrical energy systems are a critical foundation for the modern human enterprise. With rising global concerns of climate change, our research promotes solutions that contribute to energy sustainability, energy security and resiliency against human-made and natural disasters. UW-Madison’s ECE department is at the forefront of these energy innovations. Our research ranges from fusion energy systems to electric power converters and electrical machines that enable renewable energy applications, electric vehicles, and magnetic levitation while utilizing optimization and machine learning to develop solutions for greener, more resilient electrical grids. Our strong and interactive research ecosystem spans the domains of physics, circuits, machines, and networks.


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Student uses a laptop computer which is connected to a berringless motor in a clear, plastic enclosure

Long life, highly reliable, extremely efficient: Bearingless motors could make a great impact in energy conversion and storage

UW-ECE researchers are developing a new type of electric motor/generator called a “bearingless” motor. These motors use carefully controlled magnetic fields to both levitate and rotate their shafts. The resulting motor system has no mechanical bearings, giving it an ultra-long lifetime, high reliability, and extreme efficiency. This has major implications for creating sustainable energy storage (think flywheel and thermal storage) and energy conversion (HVAC, combined heat and power generation, electrified turbochargers). This photograph shows a researcher preparing to test a permanent magnet bearingless generator.