Advancing energy tech with ARPA-E.
ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy), a branch of the U.S. Energy Department, has entrusted Ampaire to develop its new in-flight testbed aircraft, for deploying advanced technologies in a real flight environment. With it, ARPA-E can test new power distribution systems, high power electronics, inverters, electric motors, propellers, ducted fans, batteries, fuel cells, and even high-efficiency combustion engines. Specifically, we are in the process of testing three devices as part of the ARPA-e CIRCUITS program. We have been gathering valuable data on the ground, and soon, in the air.
One is a solid-state breaker from the Illinois Institute of Technology. This device will be tested as a flight-critical component in the powertrain. It is capable of switching the vehicle battery, pre-charging the HV bus, and stopping short circuits.
The second is a silicon carbide inverter from the University of Arkansas. This device will be tested as a flight-critical component. It provides a power-dense solution for converting DC power from the battery to AC waveforms required to drive the motor.
Lastly, there is a flying capacitor converter from the University of California Berkeley. This converter’s topology is power-dense, scalable, and flexible.
Technologies like these could ultimately reduce the weight of an aircraft, which is critical to success.