UA Engineering Research Team Presents on Capitol Hill
Three University of Arkansas professors were among six teams selected to travel to Washington, D.C., in early April to showcase their research for federal leaders.
Alan Mantooth, distinguished professor in electrical engineering, Yue Zhao, assistant professor in electrical engineering, and David Huitink, assistant professor in mechanical engineering made a trip to the nation's capital to highlight their collaborative work. Their ARPA-E CIRCUITS Program project was one of six projects out of 300 ARPA-E funded projects invited to present at an event known as the Innovation Showcase on the Hill.
The team was invited to display their 500 kW traction inverter technology, a critical component for powering electric and hybrid electric vehicles, in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill April 4. Nearly 140 guests attended the event, including key staff members from the House Science and House Appropriations Committees, as well as 30 House and Senate offices, both Democrat and Republican.
"We really appreciated the opportunity to present our work. It was an honor to be selected to do so," Mantooth said. "We were able to present a compelling application for why these investments are important for the nation."
The professors presented their early prototype for making a heavy Caterpillar loader a hybrid electric loader. Among the items displayed were the actual hardware prototype, silicon-carbide integrated circuits being integrated into next-generation power modules, the base power modules from Wolfspeed, and the advanced thermal management devices being used to cool the electronics.
The goal of the team's project is to demonstrate that aggressive electrothermal co-design can achieve reliable, cost-competitive, high-performance results. The group is working toward a new traction inverter system that is five times more power dense, four times lighter, and three times more powerful, which would make electric-powered vehicles more effective for commercial and individual use.
The overall project is a combination of several research areas, including simultaneous electro-thermal co-design methods, advanced integrated circuits and novel power module technology. The University Arkansas leads a team consisting of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Caterpillar, and Wolfspeed. The project is one year into a 3-year project.
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