Cummins receives DOE grant to develop density inverter technology for EVs

The project is one of 12 that will focus on developing next generation electric-drive components such as traction inverters and lithium batteries.

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October 13, 2021

Cummins Inc., Columbus, Indiana, announced that it has been awarded $5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for its project to develop a high-power density inverter.

The project is one of 24 announced by the DOE, which plans to invest a total of $60 million into these projects aimed at reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from passenger cars and light- and heavy-duty trucks. According to the agency, the projects will help decarbonize the transportation sector and enhance the infrastructure needed to support the growing adoption of zero-emissions vehicles—crucial to reaching the Biden-Harris Administration’s ambitious goal of a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.

“It’s our mission to help our customers reduce their carbon footprints today, as the transition to zero-emissions accelerates globally,” said Wayne Eckerle, vice president of research and technology for Cummins. “As producers in early adoption markets, we use our learnings to improve the enabling technology, bring down costs, improve performance, and ultimately incentivize additional markets to transition. Forging a path to zero-emissions will strengthen American competitiveness, create good jobs that last, and combat climate change while providing cleaner air for all; and these grant awards and partnerships help us achieve these aims.”

The projects, funded through DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO), address the two largest contributors to transportation sector emissions: passenger cars and light-duty trucks account for nearly 60 percent of transportation emissions and medium and heavy-duty trucks account for nearly 25 percent of transportation emissions.

“Fossil-fuel powered cars and trucks are a leading cause of air pollution and carbon emissions, and that is why we are focusing on decarbonizing the transportation sector to achieve President Biden’s climate goals,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Partnering with industry and leading research universities, DOE’s investment in these 24 projects will create technologies and techniques that will cut vehicle greenhouse emissions and boost America’s competitiveness in the global clean energy market.”

Commercial vehicles like trucks and buses have higher daily mileage requirements and a longer life than passenger cars. The role of an inverter is to take the direct current (DC) energy from the batteries and convert it to alternating current (AC) required by the motor.

This Cummins-led project with partners from the Center for Power Electronics Systems (CPES) at Virginia Tech, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will develop a high-power density traction inverter that involves work at the material level to reduce losses by applying mechanical, electrical, and thermal engineering for a highly integrated, reliable, and compact solution. This traction inverter aims to achieve a power density of 100 Kilowatt per litre (kW/L), which will aid the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) integration of it in their space-challenged vehicles.