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R&D 100 Awards

For 42 years, the prestigious R&D 100 Awards, sponsored by R&D Magazine, have been helping companies provide the important initial push a new product needs to compete successfully in the marketplace.

Winning an R&D 100 Award provides a mark of excellence known to industry, government, and academia as proof that the product is one of the 100 most technologically significant new products of the year.

The DOE ESS Program has received four R&D 100 Awards and one I-R Award since 1984.

2009 R&D 100 Award

High-temperature Silicon Carbide (SiC) Power Module: the world’s first commercial, high-temperature (250 °C), silicon-carbide (SiC)-based, half-bridge, power electronics module.

The unit contains an integrated gate driver. The 50–kW (1200-V/150–A peak) SiC power modules are rated up to 250 °C. They can reduce system size and weight up to an order of magnitude over present state-of-the-art silicon-based solutions and can reduce energy losses by more than 50%.

The device was developed by Arkansas Power Electronics International, Inc., the University of Arkansas, and Rohm Semiconductor through funding as an SBIR project from the US DOE Energy Storage Systems Research Program.

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2003 R&D 100 Awards

Emitter Turn-Off (ETO) Thyristor Switch (pdf): An inexpensive, high power/high speed, semiconductor switch for use in high power converters requiring elevated current and reverse voltage blocking capabilities

It was conceived and developed through the joint efforts of Solitronics, Blacksburg, Va., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ., Blacksburg, DOE Energy Storage Program/Sandia, Albuquerque, N.M., and American Competitiveness Institute, Philadelphia, Pa.

Combining both a metal-oxide semiconductor field effect transistor (MOSFET) and a gate turn-off thyristor (GTO), this product can be easily integrated in series and parallel connections. With an embedded current sensing capability, it provides snubberless turn-off capacity and rapid switching speed. The elimination of a snubber capacitor, which is required in a conventional GTO to shield it during turn-off, saves energy on a resistor, minimizing size and cost. Additionally, its rapid switching enables the regulation of high frequency pulse width modulation in power electronics conditioning systems.

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Fiber Optic Electrical Current Transducer: an optical current sensor that measures current, magnetic fields, and ambient/conductor temperature in high-power applications with increased safety, isolation, and lower installation costs than conventional technologies.

Developed by Airak, Inc., Manassas, Va., PPI, Ashburn, Va., and the U.S. Dept. of Energy, Washington, D.C., the FOECT measures the magnetic field surrounding, or current flowing through, a conductor, while simultaneously providing temperature readings. It is designed to replace existing current transducers in applications ranging from monitoring load currents in electrical power lines to providing feedback information in high-energy power electronic converters.

Unlike the usual measurement devices, it is not necessary to completely encircle the conductor that is being monitored. Rather than perform an integration of the magnetic field, the sensor samples a point in the field using an optical crystal at a predetermined location. The strength of the magnetic field is measured through Faraday rotation of the polarized state and temperature is extracted from fluctuations in the rotation angle.

Airak's transducer has a bandwidth that exceeds 30 MHz; by tailoring the Faraday crystal composition, this rate can reach at least as high as 700 MHz. It can measure a steady-state DC offset in a magnetic field or current while reporting an AC magnetic field or current, and is capable of operating to 19.2 kV, with no additional requirements for insulation, isolation, or cooling.

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1997 R&D 100 Award

PQ2000 Power Quality System: an easily installed power source that delivers up to 2,000,000 watts for 30 seconds...and it can easily become mobile!

Every year, short duration voltage surges, sags, and momentary power losses cause billions of dollars in losses for American manufacturers. They last for periods of less than one 60 Hz cycle (16 milliseconds) up to 10-seconds and can be caused by events as varied as routine electrical power transients, lightning strikes or faults on the utility distribution system.

For years, multiple small-scale batteries were sufficient as uninterruptible power supply systems to protect selected, critical loads in a manufacturing line. However, current industrial facilities contain networks of broadly distributed, critical electronic loads, the type most affected by power quality problems. These networked systems require a large-scale backup power source on the order of 200 kilowatts to several megawatts.

The PQ2000 Integrated on its Mobile Trailer Omnion Power Engineering Corp (the Power Engineering Div. of S&C Electric) successfully developed such a power source, and it can be easily mobile. The Mobile PQ2000, developed in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories and under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Energy, can deliver up to two million watts of power for a period of 30 seconds. It has switching speeds of less than four milliseconds, which means power can be transferred from the utility grid to the PQ2000 in less than one quarter of a 60-hertz cycle, well below the sensitivity levels of modern electronic equipment.

Batteries have been used for many years in uninterruptible power supply (UPS) sys-tems to protect critical loads. However, because many new industrial facilities contain networks of broadly distributed critical loads, a large scale backup power source on the order of 200 kilowatts to several megawatts is needed to support the total plant rather than relying on multiple small scale UPS dedicated to selected critical loads.

Mobile PQ2000 in Transit Mounted on a trailer, Mobile PQ2000 can be easily moved and installed at a plant experiencing serious power quality problems, where it then supplies high quality back-up power to a customer’s entire site, not just to localized areas within the plant.

The Mobile PQ2000 Installed and Operating at S&C Electric CompanyIn its first application, Mobile PQ2000 protected a polymer fabrication plant at S&C Electric in Chicago. Over the first two years of its operation, the system corrected a dozen faults that would have shut down the plant. At the estimated cost for each shutdown, this resulted in a one-year payoff for the Mobile PQ2000. S&C is currently marketing stationary versions of this system under the trade name Purewave.™

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1984 I-R 100 Award

Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage: Development and construction of a 10MVA liquid helium cooled Superconducting Magnetic Energy Storage (SMES) device by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and deployment to stabilize the 900 mile, ac intertie between BPA and Southern California. (ref: LANL Publication)

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