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Fayetteville, AR, United States

Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.98K | Year: 2015

Geothermal energy is a cost effective, reliable, environment-friendly, and sustainable energy source that has been utilized for space heating since Roman times but is now in recent years has become more attractive for its use in electricity generation. In order to harvest this energy, components must be subjected to extreme environments driven by high temperatures and pressures between the crust and core of the Earth. Conventionally, a downhole actuator system is based on a hydraulic technology and up until this point; the electronics have been limited to monitoring and logging type functionality. However, to eliminate the complexity of hydraulic systems and increase the productivity of harnessing geothermal energy, a pure electrical system is ideal. In this Phase I SBIR project, APEI will design and develop a high temperature 300 C) SiC- based power module with an integrated silicon carbide SiC) application specific integrated circuit ASIC) gate driver for geothermal applications. The advantage of this power module is high temperature operation with extended reliability while subjected to harsh environments associated with downhole drilling.


Grant
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 125.00K | Year: 2015

The objective of this proposal is to develop and commercialize a high reliability, high temperature smart neutron flux sensor for NASA Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) systems. Arkansas Power Electronics International (APEI) and International Femtoscience (FemtoSci) technology offers the following: (1) 600+ degC ambient operation of a full wireless smart sensor system (2) Extreme-environment electronics utilizing wide band gap integrated circuits and advanced magnetic components (3) CVD nano-diamond neutron flux sensor for near-core measurements, capable of operation to >700 degC (4) Harsh environment packaging technologies to ensure reliable operation at 700 degC (5) Radiation hard, high temperature electronics will offer high reliability nuclear propulsion instrumentation, as well as provide solutions for terrestrial nuclear power generation instrumentation.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 149.95K | Year: 2014

An ideal transistor from a circuit designers standpoint consists of an ultra-low on-resistance, majority carrier switching, low gate current drive, and normally-off design. These features are inherent in the silicon carbide (SiC) power MOSFET, with the small footnote that the device, although having surpassed many hurdles along the way, is still plagued by a few key issues that limit commercial adoption into todays systems threshold voltage instability and body diode forward voltage degradation. These issues result in a limited application space for SiC MOSFETs due to the bias-dependent threshold voltage and oversizing (cost increasing) of the anti-parallel SiC Schottky diodes to ensure the body diodes do not conduct current, respectively. These reliability issues need to be studied across device vendors, SiC MOSFET structures, SiC MOSFET device generations, active areas, gate-bias electric fields, and temperature to allow for an accurate assessment of the technology. The work proposed herein addresses all of these variables and will help industry better understand the instabilities of the devices over a range of conditions, as well as the implications to the end user, due to APEI, Inc.s unique in-house system design team. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits: Proposed long term testing includes high temperature positive and negative gate bias, body diode bias, and switching tests across a number of commercial and state-of-the-art SiC MOSFET manufacturers such as Cree, Rohm Semiconductor, GE, Microsemi, and STMicroelectronics. Individual device performance data will be collected at strategic time intervals throughout testing with the end goal being an accurate assessment of any device performance shift as a result of the applied bias. As a leader in wide bandgap electronics, APEI, Inc. has a vested interest in developing qualification and reliability test programs in order to further advance the adoption of SiC devices into commercial, industrial, military, aerospace, and energy exploration applications. By remaining device neutral, APEI, Inc. is able to provide independent, unbiased, accurate results as a 3rd-party testing facility.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 150.00K | Year: 2014

APEI, Inc. is proposing in this Phase I effort to design and build a scalable, high-efficiency, high-power density, gallium nitride (GaN)-based DC-DC converter for grid-tied energy storage applications. The project approach will utilize a soft switching dual active bridge DC-DC converter with state-of-the-art GaN power semiconductor switches and advanced power packaging techniques to efficiently transform energy from a battery energy storage system to a three-phase voltage-source inverter for subsequent insertion to the AC grid. This converter can work with any renewable or alternative energy source that produces an unregulated or uncontrolled DC voltage at its terminals. The goals of the Phase I project are to: i) compare several candidate DC-DC soft-switching converter topologies for high voltage, high power energy storage applications, ii) design a custom GaN-based power module demonstrating optimal thermal, electrical, and mechanical characteristics, iii) design and build a representative scalable prototype to demonstrate the efficacy of the selected GaN power module-based soft-switching converter topology, and iv) target the preliminary performance specifications provided in the solicitation in order to commercialize this technology for existing and emerging energy storage power conversion systems used for facility load peak shaving, energy arbitrage, renewable energy smoothing/buffering, and coincident peak reduction. APEI, Inc. will use its expertise in power electronics miniaturization and packaging to design and build a minimum volume and weight, high efficiency electronic converter that converts a DC voltage from a battery energy storage system at its input to a desired DC voltage at its output.


Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: SBIR | Phase: Phase II | Award Amount: 1000.00K | Year: 2014

In this Phase II proposal, APEI, Inc. will continue development of its patented high temperature gate driver technology, enabling the next generation of high-efficiency, high power density converters. At the conclusion of Phase II, APEI, Inc. will have designed, fabricated, and tested a high temperature (300 C) SiC application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) gate driver. The fabricated SiC ASIC gate driver will then be integrated into an APEI, Inc. power module, providing for a next generation smart power module solution.

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