NASA SBIR 2004 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Platform Power Management and Distribution
PROPOSAL TITLE:Ultra-Lightweight, High Efficiency Silicon-Carbide (SIC) Based Power Electronic Converters

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Arkansas Power Electronics International, Inc.
700 W Research Blvd
Fayetteville ,AR 72701 - 7174
(479) 443 - 5759

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Alexander  B Lostetter
700 W Research Blvd
Fayetteville, AR  72701 -7174
(479) 443 - 5759

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
In Phase I of this project, APEI, Inc. proved the feasibility of creating ultra-lightweight power converters (utilizing now emerging silicon carbide [SiC] power switching technologies) through the successful demonstration of power switch operation up to 500 oC. The goal of Phase II will be to design, fabricate, and fully test SiC based DC/DC converters that can achieve high power density and ultra-lightweight by operating the power switches at high junction temperatures.

Present state-of-the-art silicon based spacecraft power systems operate at a power density of approximately 1.5 W/cm?, while the high temperature SiC based power converters proposed by APEI, Inc. in this project will operate at a power density of approximately 4.5 W/cm?, or 3? the density of present high performance silicon based systems. Theoretically, if the full potential of silicon carbide switches could be realized (junction temperature operation in excess of 600 oC), an order of magnitude power density improvement could be achieved.

APEI, Inc. is proposing to fabricate up to three prototype high density (4.5 W/cm?) DC/DC converter designs:
(1) 28V in / 5V out @ 25 watts
(2) 28 V in / 5V out @ 100 watts
(3) 28 V in / 5V out @ 1 kW

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
There are a wide range of applications within NASA on which SiC ultra-lightweight power converters could make a significant impact, including: satellite & spacecraft power management systems, satellite & spacecraft motors and actuators, and extreme environment exploratory vehicles. SiC converter technology that is more efficient than silicon and offers reduced weight and volume would find application in nearly every power management system in space. Through the utilization of a high power density SiC based power system (3? the power density of a silicon based system), the weight of the overall power system would be reduced, thus reducing launch costs and increasing the payload capacity of the vehicle. While one advantage of SiC technology is to achieve higher power densities through high temperature operation, the other utilization of the technology is to operate in high temperature environments. The power electronics applications listed above would also be applicable to extreme environment operation where standard silicon electronics fail.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The first commercial application of APEI, Inc.'s technology is towards the geological exploration market, namely down hole orbital vibrator instrumentation. By integrating the instrument drive and control electronics within the housing of the instrument itself, and sending the entire package down hole, finer control can be achieved, response time can be improved, power delivery can be increased, and frequency of operation can be boosted. In the longer term, industrial motor drive systems could see serious performance improvement through the integration of SiC technology. The large majority of manufacturing machinery in the world incorporates a multitude of industrial motors and drives, the electronics of which often times take up entire walls and significant floor space. Significant cost savings can be found by reducing manufacturing floor space, which could be achieved by utilizing high power density SiC based drive systems. The automotive market is of course a highly competitive market in which SiC systems not only would have to be viable options from a technological/reliability stand point, but they would also have to be cost competitive to traditional alternatives. The hybrid-electric vehicle market offers an intermediary transition step into which SiC systems could first be placed, proving the feasibility of the cost competitiveness of the technology.

Form Printed on 08-01-05 13:52