BorgWarner Receives Department of Energy Grant for EV Inverter Development

Oct 22, 2021

BorgWarner recently received a $4.97 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Award for the development of a Scalable Ultra Power-dense Extended Range (SUPER) inverter, the company announced. This research and development project is one of 24 university and industry-led projects that collectively were awarded $60 million in an effort to reduce CO2 emissions from the transportation sector.

The Department of Energy-sponsored project aims to build on BorgWarner’s 800V Viper silicon carbide-based inverter to achieve higher performance targets and ultimately expand its commercial potential, the company said.

BorgWarner is leading this 39-month project and working with Infineon Technologies Americas Corp., PolyCharge America, Inc., the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Virginia Tech as partners to bring the SUPER inverter to fruition. Wolfspeed, Inc. will be a key supplier, the company added.

“With an intense focus on electrification, and as a leading systems integrator and high-voltage inverter supplier, we are proud to be selected by the DOE to develop a next-generation inverter that will accelerate innovation in electric drive systems and propel the performance and capabilities of electric vehicles,” said Dr. Stefan Demmerle, president and general manager, BorgWarner PowerDrive Systems. “We have a longstanding relationship with the DOE and have teamed up with an impressive group of industry partners and technology leaders to charge forward with this project.”

The goal of the project is to develop an advanced inverter that is smaller, more efficient and more cost-effective than inverters on the market today, with the intent of enabling 800-volt electrified vehicles to meet or exceed the DOE solicitation target of 100kW per liter of power density, the company said. Additionally, project plans call for a design that allows high power density with power scaling between 100 kW and 300 kW and can be used either as a standalone device or integrated into a drive unit that includes a motor and gearbox.

During the first year of the project, which will begin in October, the group will create the concept for the entire silicon carbide (SiC) based inverter system. In the second year, the team will make all critical components that make up the inverter, including the power module and capacitor, and finalize the inverter’s design. The final year will be used for validation of the components and the SUPER inverter. Once complete, the team expects to take the technology from development to production relatively quickly, the company said.

“For this project, we will be leveraging our experience with our unique and high-performing 800V Viper silicon carbide-based inverter, advancing the concept with a building block approach and increasing component integration to achieve higher performance targets and ultimately expand its commercial potential,” continued Demmerle. “We expect the number of high-voltage EVs to sharply increase in the coming years and this scalable, high power density inverter will help expedite adoption.”