Research project gets granular on entire power electronics value chain

July 16, 2012 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Aiming at fields in LED lighting and electric drives including e-mobility, the research project ProPower takes on the factors that prevent further miniaturization of power electronics. In particular, it focuses on ways to avoid heat dissipation.

The project gets granular on heat dissipation along the entire energy distribution and consumption chain. Converters between battery and motor, indispensable for today's electric vehicles, still occupy far more space than the designers of future vehicles want to allow, and also their reliability has headroom for improvement. The goal of the project is it to create the technological foundations for a new generation of energy-efficient, reliable and miniaturized power semiconductors for electric vehicles and in LED lighting. The way to go for the research consortium that embraces 21 commercial companies and scientific institutes is to reduce active cooling as far as technologically feasible. 

The LED lighting industry could also benefit from such a novel power electronics technology. So far the driver circuitry is not yet integrated completely into the illuminants. Thus, the LED luminaires frequently have to operate with additional external ballast and power drivers which makes LED lighting expensive.

The pivotal factor to increase the functionality per space is the degree of integration. For this reason, the second focus point of the ProPower Project is manufacturing technologies that facilitate the volume production of highly effective LED electronics modules - a decisive factor in the global competition. 

The ProPower masterminds believe that the technologies to be developed within the scope of the project could effectively spread out beyond drives and lighting applications and release synergies in other markets as well. Since the project gets granular on all the steps along the value chain and across the entire industry from parts supplier to luminaries designers and carmakers, the interaction of all components involved can be optimized. Thus, joint solutions can be developed that also have positive effects to medical technology, renewable energy generation, or railway transport. 

The project is part of the IKT2020 program of the German federal government and in part funded by the German research ministry. It is scheduled for three years.

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