ESCAPE - End-to-end Supply Chain development for Automotive Power Electronics

Abstract

Public description
Most vehicles run on fossil fuels like petrol or diesel. Their exhaust gases are responsible for most of the carbon dioxide (associated with global warming) and particulate emissions (that can cause athsma) in the UK at present. Making these vehicles electrically driven moves all emissions away from the tailpipe of the vehicle, and if renewable energy is used to charge the vehicle, can completely eliminate the emissions associated with transportation and mobility as well as reducing the UK's dependency on imported fossil fuels. This applies to all modes of transport including automotive, off-highway, rail, marine and aviation.

At its core, an electric drivetrain is very simple, with an electric motor providing the tractive power generated from energy stored in a battery. To convert the DC voltage of the battery to the AC voltage required for the motor, power electronics, in the form of an inverter, are required. Further power electronics are also required for use in high power DC/DC converters and rapid chargers. Until recently, the switching devices used for these applications have been based on standard silicon technology. Silicon Carbide is expected to replace the use of silicon in future applications, due to its superior switching speed and efficiency. This also includes in non-transport applications including electrical grid interfaces and renewable energy systems.

At present, this technology cannot be made in the UK and is imported, rather than building in the UK and exporting. The aim of this project is to kick-start the manufacture of these high value components, and their resulting systems in the UK. This will protect skilled manufacturing jobs in the UK and provide significant export potential for the associated vehicles and components. The timing for this innovation is perfect, with massive demand expansion predicted over the coming decades as electric cars become mainstream. The opportunity is for the UK to be at the forefront of this revolution.

The focus of ESCAPE is to bring together industrial leaders and pioneers from across the supply chain to work as a single coherent team to deliver this vision. We aim to break down many of the barriers that slow down the development cycle time and to capture the full value in the UK. ESCAPE will be supported by academics and engineers who are expert in the area building on over 25 years of research to date.

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