Strategic Polymer Sciences, Inc. (SPS), an innovator in electroactive polymer (EAP) technology, received a $1 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu made the announcement.
SPS is one of 33 companies across the nation funded as part of the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Small Business Phase III Xlerator program. These Phase III Xlerator awards are a first for DOE and build on the Department's existing efforts under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs. DOE awarded the funds to SPS to advance the development of SPS High Performance Energy Storage DC Bus film capacitors using SPS proprietary high temperature EAP compositions.
“DC bus capacitors are a key component in the power managing electronics of hybrid and plug-in electric drive vehicles,” said SPS Director of Engineering and Project Leader, Dr. Shihai Zhang. “SPS EAP film capacitor technology will improve device reliability and reduce cost and size.”
DC capacitors are a critical component to power invertors, the technology that converts direct current to alternating current in electric drive vehicles (EDV). Today’s capacitors can occupy up to 35% of inverter volume, contribute to up 23% of the weight and add up to 25% on to cost. In addition to these handicaps, current commercial polypropylene (PP) film DC capacitors cannot reliably operate above 105ºC. EDV engine radiator coolant temperature can go up to 125ºC so a secondary cooling system is required. SPS EAP film has high temperature stability of greater than 140ºC. The commercialization of SPS EAP film technology eliminates the need for a secondary system, reduces material costs and enhances inverter reliability and performance.
The power inverter market is experiencing phenomenal growth. The market for DC bus film capacitors for hybrid and electric drive vehicle power inverters is projected to be over $1.6 billion by 2015. Due to compact size, competitive cost and high reliability SPS High Performance EAP film capacitors can be used in power inverters for wind turbine generators, grid-tied photovoltaics, and smart grids. Other commercial applications include pulsed power capacitors for medical cardiovascular defibrillators such as implantable and external automatic defibrillators, and capacitor banks for proton radiation systems that treat cancer.