IR and Purdue Team to Build New Lab, Improve Energy Efficiency

April 23, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

Purdue University announced that it is opening a new laboratory dedicated to improving energy efficiency, thanks to a $100,000 gift from International Rectifier Corp (IR). The International Rectifier Power Electronics Development and Application Lab will be known as IR-PEDAL.

Athula Kulatunga, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology, said the gift from IR, which made it possible for Purdue to convert the existing space into a 500-square-foot lab, will expand research in electrical energy efficiency. "The reality is that power electronics components are at the heart of all electrical components, from electric lawnmowers to electric cars. Having a lab dedicated to the study of these systems will enable students to benefit from technology common in industry, and industry will eventually benefit as we develop research partnerships." Kulatunga said the lab will focus on applied research in three main areas: motion controls, power conversions and audio amplifiers.

IR’s gift was used to purchase several pieces of equipment for the lab. The facility will be equipped with a motion-control workstation, including a test bench and a torque generator to study electrical loading effects. A power-conversion workstation will allow the development of different electronics circuits to integrate electrical power from alternative sources such as solar and wind. The third main component is called an anechoic chamber, which will be used to test the output of power amplifiers. In addition, a portion of the funds was used to upgrade the electrical supply in the room to be able to accommodate the new high-powered testing equipment.

The lab will enable students and researchers to build, test and disseminate research findings and display working models of current products being used by International Rectifier and other members of the power industry. Also, the lab will be used to conduct seminars and short courses on power electronic applications to faculty members and those in industry.

"One of the main benefits of IR-PEDAL will be the ability for industry members to display equipment they are currently using in their energy-efficiency studies and allow students an up-close and hands-on experience that they wouldn’t ordinarily have," Kulatunga said. "In this way, both the academic and corporate sides will greatly benefit."