PEIC Comments on DOE Vehicle Technologies Program

Posted on Industry News, PEIC Happenings

February 14, 2013

To: U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Vehicle Technologies Program

Re: Comments on Wide Funding Opportunity Announcement DE-FOA-0000793

On behalf of our members, the leadership of the Power Electronics Industry Collaborative (PEIC) are pleased to offer comment on the draft funding opportunity for the Vehicle Technologies Program-wide funding opportunity DE-FOA-0000793. As a recently established collaborative focused on developing a power electronics supply chain in the United States, PEIC very much appreciates your inclusion of the “Power Electronics” topic “DC Bus Capacitor Cost Reduction & Performance Improvements” in the draft FOA. We anticipate that multiple members of PEIC will be responding with individual comments to address the highly important objectives you have outlined for this topic.

PEIC’s members have joined together for the fundamental purpose of advocating for U.S. Government and industry policies and investments supporting the expansion of a globally competitive U.S. power electronics supply chain. This supply chain will be essential for the development and manufacture of the advanced power electronics needed by hybrid-electric and battery-electric vehicles whose adoption substantially reduces our Nation’s dependence on imported petroleum, lowers greenhouse gas emissions, improves local air pollution and creates U.S. jobs. We are directly aligned with the goals of DOE to reduce the cost of inverters as a means to making electric-fueled cars more cost competitive with traditionally fueled vehicles.

Improved DC bus capacitors, targeted by the DOE in this FOA, are viewed by PEIC as one of several key power electronics technology improvements needed to enable wide-spread adoption of electrified vehicles.

We support the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) focus on lowering the bus capacitor’s cost and its overall related system costs, as well as its size by 50% or more compared to today’s baseline polypropylene bus capacitors. PEIC endorses DOE’s simultaneous target to improve the capacitor’s reliability/durability under the wide range of temperature conditions, particularly the higher temperatures, experienced by the bus capacitor and other key power electronics components in hybrid-electric and battery-electric vehicles.

As for possible improvement in the current draft FOA, PEIC’s leadership strongly encourages the DOE to increase its co-funding support to address DOE’s clearly articulated improvements needed for the key DC bus capacitor component and its related systems. PEIC believes additional investment is needed to accelerate achievement of the objectives appropriately outlined by DOE, particularly optimization of the capacitor with the inverter system to maximize the system-level improvements, and developing and demonstrating the manufacturing process for the needed revolutionary capacitor designs.

PEIC also sees the bus capacitor technology as a good starting point for similar 50% or greater improvements needed to reduce the cost and size of all of the power electronics required by electrified vehicles of all types, from micro-hybrids to plug-in or wirelessly recharged hybrid and electric vehicles. Similarly, PEIC’s members would co-invest with DOE in other important advancements of these enabling power electronics technologies if this FOA were expanded to include additional “power electronics” topics. Like the high priority that is merited for capacitors, substantially smaller, lower cost, and/or more energy-efficient magnetics, power semiconductor devices and device packaging, thermal management, controls and gate drives would also merit a high priority for DOE’s collaboration with industry. PEIC’s membership appreciates the DOE may be in the process of preparing a separate, additional FOA to address some of these additional needed power electronics improvements.

It is PEIC’s belief that power electronics are one of the most critical elements overall to bring down costs for broadening the demand for electrified vehicles of all types, and that the U.S. must move with greater speed to achieve these cost reductions. We are dedicated to building the needed power electronics supply chain that can support U.S. manufacturers with U.S.-made power electronics products. We welcome the support of the Vehicle Technologies Program as a partner in this mission. Our growing membership will greatly appreciate additional opportunities to comment on other funding program strategies and opportunities as well.

Most respectfully yours,

Mark Bellinger
President, Board of Directors
Power Electronics Industry Collaborative (PEIC)