PowerAmerica Awards $24 Million to Projects to Advance Wide Bandgap Technology

August 21, 2019 by Paul Shepard

The PowerAmerica Institute at N.C. State University, a member of Manufacturing USA, recently awarded $24 million in funding to 24 new member projects that will enhance wide bandgap technologies in the United States.

"These projects are instrumental in fulfilling PowerAmerica's mission of accelerating commercialization of wide bandgap power electronics. They also aim to expeditiously produce a highly skilled workforce, which is key in creating the large wide bandgap demand that spurs mass manufacturing with its cost-lowering benefits. To date, projects funded by the institute have contributed to the development of more efficient power electronics that benefit a range of applications - from electric vehicles to renewable energy and data centers," said PowerAmerica Executive Director and CTO Victor Veliadis.

The latest round of projects encompass a number of applications - from heavy duty vehicles to medium voltage motor drives to high-efficiency power conversion for transportation refrigeration unit to energy storage. Recipients include companies such as John Deere, Toshiba, General Electric Aviation Systems and more, as well as leading universities, and the projects involve many examples of collaborative partnerships.

A detailed list of all projects with descriptions is available online. Examples of funded projects include:

John Deere Electronic Solutions and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will jointly undertake a project titled, "200 kW 1050 V DC Bus SiC Converters for Heavy-Duty All-Electric Vehicles."

  • Objectives: Commercialization of 200 kW 1050 V DC bus SiC converters in battery-powered heavy-duty off-highway vehicles.
  • Major Milestones: SiC/GaN converter systems demonstration in all-electric vehicle either by experimentation in-lab/in-vehicle demo.
  • Deliverables: SiC converter technology prolongs all-electric vehicle uptime > 5% vis-à-vis silicon IGBT converter technology

Toshiba and The Ohio State University will jointly undertake a project titled, "Commercialization of 1MW SiC Based High Speed MV Motor Drive with Redundant Operation."

  • Objectives: Commercialize 1MW 4kV SiC based MVD with redundancy functions, high-speed operation and filter-less long cable operations.
  • Major Milestones: Industrial-level SiC based MVD with above functions.
  • Deliverables: Industrial-level SiC based MVD

GE Aviation Systems will undertake a project titled, "Design and Manufacture of Advanced Reliable WBG Power Modules."

  • Objectives: Optimize BP4 Ultra Low Inductance, High Temperature Capable, Wire-bond Free WBG Module; Engage Commercial OEMs with cost effective packaging
  • Major Milestones: - Successful Design Reviews of Hardware Deliveries and Application / System Testing
  • Deliverables: Switch Reluctance Full Bridge Power Modules to address Rare Earth Magnet concerns of DoD & DoE Chip Scale Packaging of SiC devices to enable double sided cooling

In a second project, GE Aviation Systems will partner with Virginia Tech and Raytheon to undertake a project titled, "100 kW SiC-Based Generator Rectifier Unit for Variable Frequency Airborne Applications."

  • Objectives: Demonstrate a liquid-cooled 100 kW three-phase ac-dc SiC rectifier unit with > 99% efficiency and >120 W/in3 power density.
  • Major Milestones: Three-phase SiC active rectifier unit
  • Deliverables: 100 kW SiC Rectifier Unit

The projects were selected based on applications received through the 2018 Call for Projects and are funded by the Department of Energy and funding recipients through a cost share agreement.

Since 2015, PowerAmerica has awarded more than $100 million in funding to over 100 projects since the institute was established in 2015 to further its mission of accelerating the adoption of wide bandgap semiconductor technology in the United States.