The US Air Force Research Laboratory is to provide Rockwell Scientific with $1.5 million to develop a high efficiency, high temperature, compact motor drive for use in aircraft and spacecraft.
The silicon carbide (SiC)-based switched reluctance motor drive will be able to work at temperatures up to 200 degrees C.
Rockwell Scientific will lead a program team that includes researchers from the University of Kentucky, and Boeing as well as Rockwell Automation.
According to sources at NASA’s Glenn Research Lab, recent studies have shown that SiC power devices can greatly outperform silicon power devices.
SiC power devices can operate at higher temperatures, stand-off higher voltages, and switch faster than silicon power devices. They also have lower parasitic resistances and are physically smaller than their silicon counterparts.
Because of their superior technical specifications, SiC devices can trim the amount of undesirable power losses in electric motor drive power conversion applications and public electric power distribution.
In addition to aircraft and spacecraft applications, SiC power conversion electronics could be used to enhance the performance of most any form of electric-motor transportation system.