Looking to the skies: CHPPE 2018 Review
The efficiency and environmental benefits of electrification are already propelling vehicles on the ground and sea, but next-generation engineers are looking to the skies for the next major breakthrough.
The Ohio State University’s Center for High Performance Power Electronics (CHPPE) held its annual review for industry leaders Oct. 14 and 15 to discuss just such a topic.
CHPPE Co-Director Jin Wang said the event showcases new realms of power electronics research for industry leaders, but the goal this year was to highlight the future of hybrid aviation.
“The reason is that we now have several major projects sponsored by NASA and the Ohio Federal Research Network on the propulsion of future hybrid electric aircrafts,” Wang said, a professor in electrical and computer engineering (ECE).
He said keynote speakers held throughout the event came from NASA, Boeing, GE Aviation, Safran, and more.
“There is a great need for a technological push and a new generation of engineers to meet the grand challenge of aviation electrification,” Wang said. “CHPPE is right at the center of the nation’s effort in addressing multiple key technology challenges, including high voltage power distribution at high altitude, high power density power electronics, and high-speed electric machines.”
The CHPPE review also serves as a platform for undergraduate and graduate research. Power electronics students presented numerous projects related to hybrid aviation and propulsion.
CHPPE Program Director and ECE Professor Longya Xu said national and international experts identified the need for advancements in hybrid propulsion in aviation as due for an essential technological breakthrough over the next 15 to 20 years.
Ohio State should be at the forefront of that mission, he said, leading the way.
“Hybrid propulsion, if successful, will bring dramatic changes to the aviation industry, electrifying airplanes for a much better and convenient transportation experience. It could lead to substantial energy savings and effective environmental protection,” he said. “CHPPE has focused more on hybrid propulsion because we want to stand in the front line and make major contributions to this technology breakthrough with our industry and government collaborators.”
Xu said external speakers at this year’s annual review, as well as presentations by Ohio State faculty and students, helped reveal where such technological breakthroughs are headed in the near and long-term future.
“New work in power electronics and electric machinery will make an impact,” he said. “CHPPE research and development projects are aligned to accelerate such advancements.”
Wang said the review went well for 2018.
“We have received a lot of positive comments from our federal and industry sponsors and collaborators,” he said. “New initiatives have been discussed and action plans were formed. We look forward to more success in the years ahead.”
CHPPE is a multidisciplinary research and education center at Ohio State, dedicated to training and educating the future generation of power electronics and systems leaders toward industries such as electric utility companies, military organizations, and Original Equipment Manufacturers of power electronic related goods. The laboratory was established thanks to a $9.1 million grant from the Ohio Third Frontier Initiative, as well as national lab and industry partners.
The research at CHPPE is focused on harnessing the strengths of wide band gap (WBG) devices, currently created from Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN), in emerging power electronics applications. Such devices have the ability to operate at higher temperatures, switch at faster speeds, and achieve better efficiency over their Silicon (Si) based counterparts. The WBG technology allows designers to realize smaller, more efficiency hardware, as well as develop power electronics for new applications in the aerospace, auto, and utility industry.