CE+T Power Wins Google Little Box Challenge

February 29, 2016 by Jeff Shepard

CE+T Power has won the Google and IEEE Little Box Challenge. The company was awarded the $1 million prize at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in Washington D.C. last night after its winning design was chosen over 18 other finalists and hundreds of applicants from all over the world. CE+T Power's Red Electrical Devils (named after Belgium’s national soccer team) were declared the winner by a consensus of judges from Google, IEEE Power Electronics Society and NREL. Honorable mentions go to teams from Schneider Electric and Virginia Tech's Future Energy Electronics Center (FEEC). Impressively, the winning team exceeded the power density goal for the competition by a factor of 3, which is more than 10 times more compact than commercially available inverters.

The Little Box Challenge was launched in 2014 after Google teamed up with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in search of a new technology that could successfully shrink an inverter from the size of a cool-box to the size of a small laptop.

CE+T Power’s innovative solution is a huge improvement on the competition’s original specification of 50W per cubic inch. Boasting a powerful 145W per cubic inch, the CE+T Power winning design is also only 13.77 cubic inches in size – smaller than a block of post-it notes, which is far smaller than the brief requested – and uses technology already available on the market. Schneider’s entry delivered 96.2 W per cubic inch in a volume of 20.8 cubic inches. FEEC’s entry delivered 68.7 Watts per cubic inch in a volume of 29.1 cubic inches (over twice the volume of the winning entry).

“Winning the Google Littlebox Challenge presents us with a unique head-start to address the crucial improvements required in power backup,” said Mr. Eyben. “We identified some critical and necessary design alterations and through this innovation, we will change the future of electricity, power and even Smart Home technology.”

CE+T Power plans to use its winning design – and 20 years’ experience in the field – to improve power backup solutions for business critical applications. Currently, power is stored in Direct Current (DC) but is produced, transported and used as Alternating Current (AC). In order to convert DC to AC, an inverter is required, which is why re-sizing was a priority.

The team began working on their designs in September 2014, and the final stage of the competition saw it being rigorously tested at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado between October 2015 and January 2016.