UQM Technologies, Inc. announced Wednesday that it has received a $100,000 first phase contract from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a power electronic inverter for distributed power under the Small Business Innovation Research Program. Power electronic inverters are used to convert direct current (DC) output of power generation equipment such as reciprocating engine generators, wind turbines, solar panels, microturbines and fuel cells to 110/220 volt alternating current (AC). Many household and commercial products run on 110/220 volt AC currently delivered from the power transmission grid to electrical outlets in homes and commercial buildings.
In addition, several on-road, off-road and military vehicle manufacturers plan to offer AC power availability onboard certain vehicle models to power a variety of consumer, commercial and utility product applications.
The Company will be working with a number of suppliers of DC power generation products to develop specifications for this next generation of power inverters. The electronic inverters to be developed will be designed to operate over a wide input voltage range matching the power characteristics of the generation source, incorporate a modular design allowing for easy adaptability to different power levels, be small, lightweight and highly efficient and incorporate digital signal processing (DSP) control for “plug and play” compatibility.
UQM Technologies’ President and Chief Executive Officer, William G. Rankin said, “This program will allow us to leverage our extensive experience in efficient DC power generation and small lightweight power electronics developed for application onboard hybrid electric vehicles into the AC marketplace. We expect to rapidly develop and commercialize a highly functional and cost competitive modular power electronic inverter for applications ranging from several kilowatts up to 250 kilowatts.
“Currently available electronic inverters are difficult to install and use due to a lack of ‘plug and play’ compatibility and have operating limitations in those applications where input voltages change across a broad range. This product is another crucial step in commercializing our proprietary technology in the stationary and mobile power markets.”
One of the industry companies assisting with the product definition is Southwest WindPower, Inc., the largest manufacturer of small marine and household-size wind turbine generators. According to David Calley, Southwest’s President, “UQM Technologies has long been a leader in the field of power electronics and we are excited about the prospects of working with them on a highly capable inverter product. The markets we serve clearly need a lightweight and highly efficient ‘plug and play’ inverter capable of operating across a broad range of input voltages. We believe we can add substantial value to our customers by contributing to the development of this advanced electronic inverter product and are looking forward to working with UQM Technologies on this development.”
Many experts believe that the world is in the initial stages of a shift in the way electric power is generated and delivered. This shift is being driven by a convergence of factors including deregulation of the electric utility industry, increasing demand for high power quality, environmental concerns and the emergence of a variety of technologies for the generation, transmission and storage of energy. Products based on these technologies could more effectively meet the world’s growing need for electric power by providing power that is more efficient, reliable, of high quality, environmentally friendly and ultimately less costly.
The broadest change expected by many in the power industry is a transformation toward distributed power generation characterized by locally situated power generation devices such as reciprocating engine generators, microturbine generators, fuel cells, solar panels and wind turbines integrated via a system of intelligent generation and power conversion technologies and products.
UQM Technologies, Inc. is a developer and manufacturer of power dense, high efficiency motors, generators, gear assemblies and power electronic inverters for the automotive, aerospace, telecommunications, medical and industrial markets. A major emphasis of the Company is developing products for the alternative energy technologies sector including power systems for electric, hybrid electric and fuel cell electric vehicles, 42 volt under-the-hood power accessories and distributed power generation applications.
The Company’s headquarters and engineering and product development center are located in Golden, Colorado. Manufacturing facilities are located in Frederick, Colorado (electric motors and gear assemblies) and St. Charles, Missouri (electronic assemblies and wire harnesses). For more information on the Company, please visit its worldwide website at www.uqm.com.