An advanced electronics company based at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park in Fayetteville was recently awarded $2 million by the U.S. Department of Energy to develop technologies to reduce transportation costs by improving fuel efficiencies.
Arkansas Power Electronics International Inc. was selected to lead one of the 38 new projects across the country. APEI is in partnership with Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America Inc., GaN Systems Inc., the National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission at the University of Arkansas, and the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
“By partnering with universities, private industry, and our national labs, the Energy Department is helping to build a strong 21st century transportation sector that cuts harmful pollution, creates jobs, and leads to a more sustainable energy future,” energy secretary Ernest Moniz said in a press release. “By improving the fuel economy of our cars and trucks, we can save families and businesses money at the pump and better protect our air and water.”
The award to APEI is part of a broader, $45 million public-private campaign to enhance sustainability in the auto industry. Specifically, APEI will work to develop an electric motor traction drive for the next generation of the hybrid-electric Toyota Prius using innovations based on silicon carbide and gallium nitride power semiconductors.
Alex Lostetter, president and CEO of APEI, says his company’s technology can reduce power costs by more than 50 percent and can reduce the weight of motor drive electronics by as much as 90 percent.
“These improvements lead to significant savings in vehicle cost, increases driving distances, and reduces fuel expense,” Lostetter said. “We’re very excited to be working with Toyota to get this technology into the next generation of Prius hybrid-electric vehicles. It’s an amazing opportunity.”