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DOE Offers $16 Million for Advanced Vehicle Electronics

October 18, 2006

DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) issued a solicitation in late September for the development of power electronics and electric motors for use in hybrid or fuel cell vehicles. DOE estimates that $16 million will be available over three or four years to support two to six awards. DOE has four areas of interest for the solicitation, including high-speed motors and integrated traction drive systems that are smaller, lighter, and less costly than those used in today's hybrids; a three-phase inverter that can operate at high temperatures; and a bidirectional DC-to-DC converter for plug-in hybrid vehicles. Inverters convert direct-current (DC) battery power into alternating current (AC), and the inverters in today's hybrids require cooling, which add to the cost of the system. An inverter able to operate at high temperatures would reduce hybrid system costs. DC-to-DC converters can transfer DC power between a low-voltage battery pack and the high-voltage electronics used in hybrid vehicles, allowing the use of a smaller battery pack that operates at a lower voltage. Technologies employed in hybrid vehicles will also benefit plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles. Applications are due by November 15th. See the solicitation on the NETL Web site.