Engineering at Illinois to lead $18.5 million center for power optimization in mobile electronics
Heat is the enemy for people designing cars, construction machinery, aircraft, and mobile electronics. When their electrical systems do more work, they get hotter. When they get too hot, they operate inefficiently, fail, or even melt. Your cordless drill won’t fire up. Bulldozer buckets don’t lift. Planes are grounded. Electric cars sit on the side of the road.
A new, $18.5 million Engineering Research Center led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is out to pack more power into less space for electrical systems. The center is funded by the National Science Foundation.
“We want to increase the total power density in vehicles by 10 to 100 times. That would translate into billions of liters of fuel saved and nearly double an electric car’s range,” said Andrew Alleyne, the Ralph & Catherine Fisher Professor in Illinois’ Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering and a researcher in the Coordinated Science Lab. Alleyne will lead P.O.E.T.S.
“Today’s electrical technologies are at their thermal limit. A systems approach is the only way we’ll push beyond the current state of the art.”
More than a dozen companies across the United States will also take part, testing the ideas and hiring students trained through P.O.E.T.S. The center will also engage with school districts to transition the breakthrough interdisciplinary STEM concepts to K-12 classrooms and inspire young people to pursue careers in these fields.
“As part of the Caterpillar team, it’s a privilege to work on electric drives as part of my day job and also serve on the Industrial Advisory Board for the P.O.E.T.S project,” said Bryan Lammers, a technical manager who also leads heavy equipment manufacturer Caterpillar’s involvement with the program.
The National Science Foundation began supporting Engineering Research Centers like P.O.E.T.S in 1985, to create and sustain integrated interdisciplinary research environments that advance fundamental engineering knowledge, enable technology and engineered systems, and prepare U.S. engineering graduates for success in the global economy. Academe and industry are joined in partnership through the ERC to achieve these goals.
“In 1989, the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory at Illinois was launched thanks to support from the NSF Engineering Research Center program. It continues to thrive today, and still conducts more than $7.5 million in research per year,” said Chancellor Phyllis Wise. “The massive impact of the NSF program and the centers it creates are felt by every partner, but, more importantly, they’re felt by the entire world.”
The NSF Engineering Research Center for Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS) will be led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in partnership with Howard University, Stanford University and the University of Arkansas (NSF award #1449548).
The POETS ERC aims to pack more power into less space for electrical technologies on the move by integrating novel 3-D cooling circuitry, power converters and algorithms for smart power management. Their work will enable the manufacture of lighter, more compact and more efficient power electronic systems for electric vehicles, airplanes, construction equipment, handheld tools and other mobile applications.
P.O.E.T.S. INDUSTRIAL PARTNERS
· Arkansas Power Electronics International
· Creative Thermal Solutions
· CU Aerospace
· Howard University
· John Deere
· ON Semiconductor
· Parker Hannifin
· Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden
· Stanford University
· Texas Instruments
· United Technologies Research Center
· University of Arkansas
· University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
· University of Sao Paolo in Brazil