U of A researchers to help develop hybrid and electric vehicles

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University of Arkansas researchers are doing their part to help develop next-generation hybrid and electric vehicles.

U of A researchers will use a $1.5 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy to advance the Energy Department’s goal of increasing demand for electric vehicles.

“Alan Mantooth, distinguished professor of electrical engineering and executive director of the National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission (NCREPT), received a five-year award to help build silicon-carbide integrated circuits and incorporate them into advanced power modules for electric- and hybrid-powered vehicles,” a university news release states.

The project is part of the Energy Department’s goal to fund research that will help develop efficient and sustainable transportation technologies.

“We’ve had a long partnership with Toyota in its effort to build and refine silicon carbide chargers for the batteries and traction drives in the Prius, perhaps the most popular hybrid car,” Mantooth said. “The Vehicle Technologies Office at DOE, and our collaborators at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, knew about this partnership and understood our pioneering work on solid-state, integrated circuits for this type of equipment. It’s gratifying to be recognized for this work and we’re honored to be part of this bigger project.”

Mantooth’s research team will focus on developing high power-density traction drives as part of the overall engine system. In addition to the electric motor, the power-drive systems of these vehicles include converters and inverters, high-voltage batteries and chargers.

“The researchers will design and fabricate silicon carbide integrated circuits for power modules and develop methods for packaging and integrating these circuits with other components,” the news release states. “Their work will also include sensor design and fabrication, thermal management, and broader, system-level integration.”

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