Known as the “Oscars of Innovation,” the list of the world’s top 100 technological product innovations compiled by R&D Magazine is prestigious, and the new list includes a Fayetteville-based firm.
For the second time in the company’s short history, Arkansas Power Electronics International, Inc. has been included on the list, which in the past has included such cutting-edge technologies as the flashcube, the automated teller machine, the fax machine and high-definition television.
Founded in 1999, APEI – the largest company affiliated with the University of Arkansas at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park – specializes in advanced, high-performance electronics for a variety of customers and applications, including the defense, aerospace and hybrid/electric vehicle markets. The magazine based its latest R&D 100 award on APEI’s high-performance, silicon carbide-based plug-in hybrid electric vehicle battery charger.
At the core of the on-board charger unit is one of APEI’s power modules, which will be released as a standard product later this year. The module’s high-speed switching capability and high-temperature packaging enabled the company to create a battery charger that is more efficient and more powerful than the current commercial technology.
The battery charger represents a major advance in power electronics and meets the increasing demands of the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle and electric vehicle markets and plays a vital role in allowing these markets to experience continual growth.
The new technology developed at APEI can also be utilized across a wide variety of different applications outside of the electric vehicle markets. These include: renewable energy battery charging, distributed grid storage, material handling equipment, boats, handicap mobility vehicles, commercial hybrid vehicles and future military tactical vehicles and systems.
APEI led the development of the battery charger in a collaborative research partnership that includes four other entities – Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.; the National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission, an academic research center based at the University of Arkansas; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Cree, Inc. The collaboration is funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency in the U.S. Department of Energy.
In 2009, APEI received its first R&D 100 award for a high-temperature silicon carbide power module that was the result of a collaboration with the University of Arkansas and Rohm Co. Ltd. The module can greatly reduce the size and volume of power electronic systems.