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Posted: October 23, 2007
GE Global Research Announces $6.8 Million to Accelerate Technology Advancements for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles
(Nanowerk News) GE Global Research, the centralized research organization of the General Electric Company (NYSE: GE) today announced $6.8 million in funding for two projects with the U.S. Department of Energy to help accelerate the introduction of plug-in hybrid vehicles to market.
The first project is a $5.6 million contract to develop smaller, lower cost, higher performing hybrid drivetrain motors for hybrid electric vehicles. The second is a $1.2 million project to develop advanced high temperature, high energy density capacitors. Both technologies are critical to helping enable the commercialization of plug-in hybrid vehicles. These projects are co-funded by the DOE’s Office of Vehicle Technologies and managed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).
“With concerns about global climate change and greenhouse gas emissions growing, plug-in hybrid vehicles are seen as one of the most promising solutions in the transportation sector for reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Lembit Salasoo, Project Manager, GE Global Research. “But to be commercially viable on a large scale, key advancements will be needed in hybrid drivetrain motors and high density, high temperature capacitor technologies. These are both areas where GE has considerable expertise. We can draw from decades of experience in advanced materials development, motor designs, hybrid propulsion systems and capacitor research to deliver the necessary breakthroughs.”
GE researchers are leveraging more than three decades of experience in electric and hybrid vehicles as well as GE’s long-established electric machine expertise, which dates back to company founder Thomas Edison to support these two projects. They are both part of GE’s commitment to introduce new, environmentally friendly products through its company-wide ecomagination initiative. Under ecomagination, GE has pledged to more than double its investment in the development of cleaner energy technologies from $700 million to $1.5 billion during the next five years.
Advanced Hybrid Drivetrain Motors
The focus of the advanced motors project is to have a scalable family of hybrid vehicle interior permanent magnet motor designs that are validated by testing and ready to supply the U.S. and global hybrid vehicle market.
GE researchers have done a great deal of prior work with auto manufacturers, the US Department of Energy, US Department of Transportation and New York agencies on other related projects, such as energy storage for GE Transportation’s hybrid locomotive, and hybrid electric transit buses. GE researchers also have extensive experience in the design of electric motors from refrigerator fan motors to 1,000-hp locomotive traction motors and even larger natural gas and oilfield compressor motors. The knowledge gathered from these projects will be a valuable support to this project. Researchers in Niskayuna also will utilize expertise from the Center’s Nanotechnology Advanced Technology Program to drive key nanomaterial advancements to deliver an increase in machine efficiency.
The project is scheduled to last three years and carried out in two phases. Phase 1 will entail a detailed study to assess low-cost manufacturing approaches, improved geometries and the advanced materials and motor designs applied to build the motor. Phase 2 will involve testing both light-automobile rated and heavier-vehicle rated prototype motors.
High Temperature, High Energy Density Capacitors
Capacitors are a critical component of the power electronics used in a plug-in hybrid drive system. As part of a second and separate DOE project, GE will focus on developing capacitors with higher power density and higher temperature capability. This will help reduce the size, cost and weight of the vehicle, while also improving performance.
GE researchers will be working on new capacitor materials and integrated device design. The project will be executed in two phases over a three-year period. In the first phase, the team will focus on the fundamental material development and upon success, be moving forward with building prototype capacitors in the final phase. GE will be working with multiple industry partners on the overall system integration.
About GE Global Research
GE Global Research is one of the world's most diversified industrial research organizations, providing innovative technology for all of GE's businesses. Global Research has been the cornerstone of GE technology for more than 100 years, and is now focused on developing breakthrough innovations in areas such as molecular medicine, energy conversion, nanotechnology, advanced propulsion, and security technologies. GE Global Research is headquartered in Niskayuna, New York and has facilities in Bangalore, India, Shanghai, China, and Munich, Germany. Visit GE Global Research at www.ge.com/research.