Interview: Herman Nollet from EREA

Herman Nollet is manager at EREA (Belgium) one of the largest low-voltage transformer companies in Europe. EREA joined ESSIAL in October 2020, in which they will be in charge of the realisation of a prototype in the framework of WP5, among other tasks. In this interview, Herman tells us about what EREA’s involvement and expectations as a newcomer in the project.

Question: Tell us a bit more about EREA and its expertise

Answer: EREA Energy Engineering develops and manufactures Low Voltage Transformers. EREA’s R&D team focuses on efficiency and low energy consumption. This has resulted in a specific product line: the EREA blue e³ series. These energy-efficient transformers ensure reduced energy losses. And that means lower energy bills for the end client. These transformers can pay for themselves over the longer term. These EREA transformers are a vital electrical component used by a wide range of industries. Every application is specific.

Over the years EREA has specialized in the production of transformers used in a wide range of sectors: renewable energy, hospital facilities, charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, public transport, telecommunication, agriculture, marine and offshore, wellness and so on. The project will involve the participation of the R&D department of EREA as well as the prototyping and the production department.

Question: Why did you decide to join ESSIAL?

We are convinced that we can bring our expertise on energy efficient transformers to the ESSIAL team in such a way that the ‘time to market’ to turn the new knowledge into production (customer accepted product) can be shortened. As a result, after this ESSIAL project, EREA will benefit from the extra knowledge about magnetic core losses and potential noise reduction. EREA will have leverage to further play his prominent role as a manufacture of transformers with Low Energy Losses.

Question: What role will you play in the project?

The project will involve the participation of the R&D department of EREA as well as the prototyping and the production departments. We will take care of calculation, realization and adaptation of the different prototypes related to: Specification of the structures and shapes; Assembling the laminated magnetic circuits and winding the coils; Electrical, Acoustic and Thermal measuring of the transformers; Comparing samples with and without laser treatment. This is for WP4 as well as for WP5.

Question: Since you are a newcomer in ESSIAL, what do you expect from the project?

Technology is evolving fast nowadays. The basic laws of electro-magnetism will not change, but the way we interact with them might bring us new insights. It will help us to optimize material consumption and production capacity. I have always been fascinated about learning about these new possibilities. So, working in the ESSIAL environment will definitively bring new ideas. Bringing together a multidisciplinary team with different skills, both on theoretical level as on a practical hands-on level, will push the product development to a next level.

Although Covid-19 forces us to meet (at the moment) mostly on-line, the contacts and interactions are useful to elaborate new principles and validate these with physical samples we can calculate, build and test. Last, but not least, meeting new collaborators enriches the social network for future working together.

Once the ESSIAL project is finished, EREA expects to introduce – as a next step in its strategy to continue to decrease energy losses – a new product line as a successor of our current blue e3 transformers series with guaranteed low noise levels and ecofriendly end-of-life recycling possibilities.