AES Semigas


18 August 2023

US DOE renews funding for PowerAmerica Institute

The US Department of Energy (DOE)’s Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO) has announced renewed funding for PowerAmerica, a public–private research initiative established in 2014 that is the DOE’s first Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institute.

PowerAmerica will receive an initial $8m, with potential funding across four more fiscal years to follow, to continue advancing domestic manufacturing of wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductors for power electronics to aid economy-wide decarbonization and electrification.

WBG semiconductors enable power electronics that are used in a range of applications — including industrial equipment, data centers, consumer devices, and electric vehicles. Silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) WBG semiconductor technology makes the power electronic modules significantly more powerful and energy efficient than those made from conventional semiconductor materials, namely silicon. These high-performance power electronics can increase electric vehicle driving range; help to integrate renewable energy into the electric grid; and lead to significant energy savings.

“The work PowerAmerica — and its 82 member organizations spanning industry, academia and national labs—is doing to galvanize commercialization of high-performance power electronics is invaluable to our clean energy future,” comments AMMTO director Chris Saldaña. “PowerAmerica has catalyzed an innovation ecosystem that touches nearly every sector up and down each supply chain.”

Headquartered in Raleigh, NC, USA, PowerAmerica has commercialized more than 10 WBG technologies over five years. To date, 40% of PowerAmerica’s 60 projects have reached or are set to reach commercial status.

Not only is PowerAmerica innovating semiconductors that surpass operational limitations of traditional silicon-based designs but it also focuses on training the future workforce of the USA’s manufacturing sector through its education and workforce development (EWD) program. Since launching in 2014, PowerAmerica has trained more than 400 masters and PhD students, 300 short-course attendees, 1800 tutorial participants, and 9000 K-12 students in STEM programs, including 2000 participants of hands-on trainings. This is particularly important in addressing the acute workforce shortage that the power electronics industry faces, and scaling up PowerAmerica’s existing EWD program is a proposed focus of the new federal funding.

The latest federal funding builds upon initial federal funding of $70m, in addition to $81m in cost share from its member partners, for a total of $151m.

PowerAmerica is one of seven Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institutes supported by two of the DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program offices: the Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO) and Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization Office (IEDO). In addition, PowerAmerica is one of the 16 member institutes of Manufacturing USA, a national network of manufacturing innovation institutes for advanced manufacturing through large-scale public–private collaboration on technology, supply chain, and education and workforce development.

See related items:

Navitas joins PowerAmerica consortium

Aehr Test Systems joins PowerAmerica Institute

Tags: GaN Power electronics


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