Dionysios Aliprantis took up an imaginary hammer and chisel and pounded away at the air.
“Think of the ancient Greeks and their sculptures,” said the Iowa State University assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.
Now apply the idea of a sculptor precisely chipping away at stone to the electric motors that run our machines and generate our electricity. Aliprantis is working to develop computer modeling technology that will show engineers how to chip away at the surfaces of electric motors to create new designs and shapes that can increase power generation.
“The goal is to get more power out of the same size motor,” he said. “Or, that could mean getting the same power with a smaller motor.”
Aliprantis is quick to say he’s not looking for a huge improvement in a motor’s performance.
“I’m looking for a little bit of increase, maybe 5 percent or 1 percent,” he said. “But multiply that number by the number of hybrid cars, let’s say, and you could get savings in the billions of dollars. The potential here could be huge.”
Aliprantis’ project is supported by a five-year, $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development Program. The grants support junior faculty identified as teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research.