Advanced Power Electronics and Electrical Machines
Because they are essential to electric drive vehicles, improvements in electric traction drives have the potential to significantly reduce petroleum consumption in the transportation sector as well as help meet national economic and energy security goals. Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) can reduce petroleum use compared to average conventional vehicles by as much as 50%, while plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) extend these savings even further. For a general overview of electric drive vehicles, see the DOE's Alternative Fuel Data Center's pages on Hybrid and Plug-in Electric Vehicles.
Achieving these goals will require cutting-edge R&D in several areas including:
- wide bandgap (WBG) devices
- advanced motor designs to reduce or eliminate rare earth materials
- novel packaging
- improvements in heat transfer and thermal management
- integration of power electronics functions in advanced vehicle architectures
The Vehicle Technologies Office's Contribution
VTO's Advanced Power Electronics and Electric Motors subprogram works to improve electric drive systems to commercialize new technologies in this area and reach VTO's goals for electrifying transportation. These improvements will also help DOE meet the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge goal of making the U.S. the first nation in the world to produce PEVs that are as affordable for the average American family as today's gasoline-powered vehicles by 2022.
VTO pursues two major areas of research under this subprogram:
The Advanced Power Electronics and Electric Motors' long-term R&D strategy recognizes that lowering cost is essential for consumer acceptance and technology breakthroughs are necessary to achieve R&D goals. Because of these considerations, it focuses on traction drive system R&D that:
- Reduces cost, weight, and volume
- Improves performance, efficiency and reliability
- Develops modular and scalable designs
- Improves manufacturability to enable commercialization
This research builds upon decades of work that DOE has conducted in power electronics and electric motors. Research supported by VTO led to the first production facility for electric traction drive motors from a U.S.-based manufacturer (General Motors) and the first U.S. based inverter production (Delphi).
The APEEM subprogram works extensively with a number of different organizations, including national laboratories and universities.
Within the Department of Energy, the office coordinates with:
- Other manufacturing efforts within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Clean Energy Manufacturing Initiative
- The Office of Science
- ARPA-e (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy)
Across the federal government, the subprogram works with:
- The National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, particularly the area of Next Generation Power Electronics, that has a focus on wide bandgap semiconductor based power electronic devices. Besides their use in vehicles, this technology will enable renewable power interconnection, industrial-scale variable speed drive motors, and a smarter, more flexible electric grid.
- The Interagency Advanced Power Group
- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration
- The National Institute of Standards and Technology
- The U.S. Army Tank, Automotive Research and Development and Engineering Center (Department of Defense)
Much of the subprogram's research is conducted in sync with industry partners through:
- The U.S. DRIVE Partnership focusing on light-duty vehicles
- The 21st Century Truck Partnership, focusing on heavy-duty vehicles
As described in the EV Everywhere Blueprint, the major goals of Advanced Power Electronics and Electric Motors subprogram are to reach these levels for traction drive systems by 2022:
- Reduce cost from $30/kW in 2012 to $8/kW
- Increase specific power from 1.1 kW/kg in 2012 to 1.4 kW/kg
- Increase specific volume from 2.6 kW/L in 2012 to 4 kW/L
- Increase efficiency from 90% in 2012 to 94%
|Traction Drive Systems (TDS)|