APEI Awarded $3.5 Million to Develop Power Module for Fighter Jet
U of A affiliate company specializes in high-performance electronicsWednesday, April 23, 2014
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The U.S. Air Force has awarded a $3.5 million contract to Arkansas Power Electronics International Inc. to develop a high-temperature silicon carbide power module for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Arkansas Power Electronics International (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 silicon carbide power module that APEI will develop for the fighter jet will be based on the company’s unique wide band-gap material packaging and device expertise. A wide band-gap material is a semiconductor that withstands much harsher environments and enables high performance applications.
The Air Force contract will fund the transfer of laboratory-tested silicon-carbide power electronics technology developed at APEI to a motor drive on the F-35 that allows that allows the pilot to control the aircraft’s flight control surfaces, which include flight altitude, ability to turn, speed, stability and other vital features.
The Joint Strike Fighter, currently in development, is part of the Air Force’s new “more electric” and “all electric” aircraft design philosophy, which mandates the replacement of costly and bulky mechanical hydraulic aircraft flight control systems with lighter weight, high-reliability, low-maintenance electric motors and drives.
The high power densities and high voltages required to operate mechanical flight systems with electric motors are driving a transition to high-density silicon carbide power electronic systems; these systems are capable of operating at higher efficiencies, higher voltages, higher power densities and higher temperatures when compared to conventional silicon electronics.
APEI frequently collaborates with faculty at the University of Arkansas and a majority of its 49 employees are graduates of the university.
“I am pleased to see this latest contract award to Arkansas Power Electronics International to develop technology that will benefit our warfighters,” said Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor, who visited APEI in November 2013 to congratulate the company on recent contract awards from the U.S. Army. “APEI’s work in wide bandgap power electronics is doing great things for high technology manufacturing in Arkansas.”
“The Arkansas Research and Technology Park has created a unique business hub that helps lure next-generation manufacturing jobs to the state,” said Arkansas Sen. John Boozman. “Having APEI produce this vital component of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is a win-win scenario. The Air Force needs to upgrade to a modern, lighter aircraft and we welcome the jobs and economic growth for Northwest Arkansas.”
Ty McNutt, director of business development
Arkansas Power Electronics International
Chris Branam, research communications writer/editor