Electricity generation currently accounts for ~40% of primary energy consumption in the U.S. and continues to be the fastest growing form of end-use energy. Power electronics condition, control, and convert electrical power in order to provide optimal conditions for transmission, distribution, and load-side consumption. Most of today’s power electronics have limitations to their performance, temperature resilience, and size due to the circuit topology and semiconductor power devices used. Emerging semiconductor devices such as those based on wide-bandgap materials — along with transformative advances in circuit design and system architecture — present opportunities to dramatically improve power converter performance while reducing size and weight. Development of advanced power electronics with unprecedented functionality, efficiency, reliability, and form factor will help provide the U.S. a critical technological advantage in an increasingly electrified world economy.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
Eaton will develop and validate a wireless-power-based computer server supply that enables distribution of medium voltage (AC or DC) throughout a datacenter and converts it to the 48V DC used by computer servers. Datacenters require multiple voltage conversions steps, reducing the efficiency of power distribution from the grid to the server. The converter will employ commercially available wide-bandgap power devices for both the medium-voltage transmitter circuit and the low-voltage receiver circuit, respectively. The heart of the medium voltage supply is the wireless power transfer transformer, which will eliminate the multiple conversion stages present at datacenter locations all while providing operators touch-safe isolation from the medium input voltage side. If successful, the technology can reduce U.S. datacenter energy consumption and operations costs. It will eliminate the need of some transformers and reduce copper use in conductors providing a significant cost and space savings when medium voltage distribution is used.
If successful, CIRCUITS projects will enable further development of a new class of power converters suitable for a broad range of applications including motor drives for heavy equipment and consumer appliances, electric vehicle battery charging, high-performance computer data centers, grid applications for stability and resilience, and emerging electric propulsion systems.
More robust power electronics that withstand higher operating temperatures, have increased durability, a smaller form factor, and higher efficiency will significantly improve the reliability and security of a resilient electrical grid.
Low cost and highly efficient power electronics could lead to more affordable electric and hybrid-electric transportation, greater integration of renewable power sources, and higher efficiency electric motors for use in heavy industries and consumer applications.
Electricity is the fastest growing form of end-use energy in the United States. High performance, low cost power electronics would enable significant efficiency gains across the economy, reducing energy costs for businesses and families.