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CPES Researchers Awarded two ARPA-E CIRCUITS Projects

Aug 24, 2017

Diagram of CIRCUITS program research
CPES and its partners have been awarded two new projects under the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) Creating Innovative and Reliable Circuits Using Innovative Topologies and Semiconductors (CIRCUITS) program. These projects represent over $4 million in funding, and are a part of 21 new projects comprising the CIRCUITS program, which together total $30 million. CIRCUITS seeks to accelerate the development and deployment of innovative electric power converters based on wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductors, with positive ramifications for U.S. security, the environment, and especially the United States' position in an increasingly electrified economy.

In the first project, "High Power Density 10-kV SiC-MOSFET-based Modular, Scalable Power Converters for Medium-Voltage Applications", CPES will lead other Virginia Tech collaborators in the development of high-power, high voltage AC-to-DC and DC-to-DC modular power converters, with a circuit topology optimized for wide-bandgap (WBG) SiC semiconductors. The primary applications of this research include electric motor drives, power inverters for grid-sale use, and a DC-to-DC converter for microgram applications. The circuit designs could also lead to more high efficiency, high performance, SiC-based, high power, medium-voltage converters.

In the second project, "Power Conversion Through Novel Current Source Matrix Converter (MxC)", CPES will work with the United Technologies Research Center to develop a SiC-based, single stage, 15 KW direct AC-to-AC power converter which circumvents the necessity of an intermediate conversion to DC or energy storage circuit elements. CPES and UTRC researchers will seek to build a device with half the weight of converters currently available to consumers, while demonstrating the scalability for a broad power range (from kW to tens of MW) and achieving conversion of efficiencies of 99.5%. The team's ultimate goal is a significant reduction of energy losses in a range of industrial applications, and a demonstration of new possibilities in aircraft power systems, electric locomotives and ship propulsion made possible by the reduced weight and complexity of the converter.

CPES also extends its congratulations to Jason Lai, of Virginia Tech's Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, for being awarded the project "Single DC Source Based Cascaded Multi-level Inverter". Dr. Lai's project will develop a GaN- and SiC-based, utility scale, high power (100 kW), multilevel, medium voltage DC-to-AC inverter that can receive power from sources like batteries or solar panels and transfer it directly to the medium voltage level of the utility grid.

Past ARPA-E projects have primarily focus on developing WBG materials and devices. Now, the CIRCUITS program seeks to maximize the performance benefits of these new advances. As a global leader in power electronics research, CPES is in a unique position to accelerate these endeavors.

Read the ARPA-E press release »
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