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As ground vehicle systems continue to require significantly more electric power, and the military and its industry partners pursue reductions in petroleum dependency, vehicle electrification and the use of hybrid systems will continue to gain importance. To advance this vital discipline, the GSPEL's Electric Components Laboratory (ECL) engineers perform state-of-the-art evaluation of hybrid-electric (HE) powertrains, with a decided emphasis on developing hybrid motor technology that leads to increased vehicle electrification.
The laboratory's dedicated space for HE component development features a 350 kilowatt (kW) dynamometer with more than 3,300 Newton metre (Nm) torque to allow for testing advanced electric machines for power generation and traction applications. The lab's 12,000 rpm capability covers the full-speed range of potential military motor/generator operations.
The lab also features dual 250 kW power suppliers (900V/1000A) that will allow for testing next-generation silicon carbide (SiC)-based high-temperature power electronics, including motor drive inverters, DC-DC converters and export power inverters. SiC is helping to reduce the thermal burden of power electronics in the vehicle.
The laboratory houses the majority of its electrical equipment — including dynamometer drive cabinets, power supplies, isolation transformers and electrical switchgear — on a mezzanine, allowing for easier lab reconfiguration and leaving more floor space available for testing. The equipment used in the ECL can regenerate potentially 80-percent power back into the GSPEL, making it possible to re-use the electricity generated.
We asked Advanced Propulsion Team Electrical Engineer Dr. Wes Zanardelli about the ECL and the work he anticipates will be conducted there:
What capabilities does this lab provide that were not previously available, and what benefit will this provide the Army?
Future Army vehicles will require significantly more electric power than is available on today's vehicles. Today, with a standard 560 A alternator, up to 16 kW of power is available, which is enough to power approximately three homes. Future Army vehicles will require up to 10 times that amount. The ECL is equipped to evaluate electric motor and power electronic conversion devices at higher power levels than possible in the past, which will allow for new vehicle capabilities, electrification of legacy systems to increase their efficiency, and vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-grid and microgrid connectivity where vehicles can power the installation or forward operating base's electrical grid.
What dual-use benefit can this provide to industry and academic partners, and what collaborative opportunities will it provide?
We share the need with the Department of Energy and the Nation to develop and validate highly efficient non-rare earth electric machines. The ECL supports research, characterization and testing of components for onboard power generation, HE mobility and vehicle electrification. This will lead to new information and advances in this important area, yielding benefits for both the military and commercial automotive industry.
What's the first project/vehicle you're going to test in this new lab?
We're currently researching high-performance electric machines which do not require rare-earth permanent magnets. This will help the Army reduce dependence on materials at risk of supply disruption. Our work is focused on developing these machines for Army vehicle applications while meeting or exceeding the performance of today's state-of-the-art machines.
This facility's unique capabilities are available for use by Government Agencies, Military installations, academic institutions or private business entities, upon approval and with proper security clearance. To make arrangements to use the Air Filtration Lab, contact the user liaison for this facility. You may also view our list of comprehensive laboratory capabilities to ensure that this facility best suits your needs.
TARDEC Ground Vehicle Gateway
The Electric Components Laboratory is part of TARDEC's Ground Systems Power and Energy Laboratory. Other labs and test facilities within this group include:
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