U of I to lead $18.5 million electrical optimization research center

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URBANA-- The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will lead an $18.5 million Engineering Research Center to pack more power into less space for electrical systems.

The Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems, or P.O.E.T.S., center will study the electrical challenges surrounding mobile electronics and vehicle design. 

For those designing cars, construction machinery, aircraft, and mobile electronics, heat is the enemy. When their electrical systems work hard, they get hotter. When they get too hot, they operate inefficiently, fail, or even melt. 

Partners from around the world will work together at P.O.E.T.S. to build new technologies like three-dimensional thermal circuitry for cooling, next-generation power converters, and algorithms for coordinating the technologies automatically. They will look at those technologies from the microchip level all the way up to an entire vehicle.

“Today’s electrical technologies are at their thermal limit. A systems approach is the only way we’ll push beyond the current state of the art," said Andrew Alleyne, the Ralph & Catherine Fisher Professor in Illinois’ Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering. "We want to increase the total power density in vehicles by 10 to 100 times. That would translate into billions of liters of fuel saved and nearly double an electric car’s range.”

Alleyne will lead P.O.E.T.S.

More than a dozen companies across the United States will also take part, including Caterpillar, Halliburton, John Deere, Rolls-Royce, Texas Instruments, and Toyota. The center will also engage with school districts to inspire young people to pursue careers in these fields.

The center is funded by the National Science Foundation.

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