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GE Announces SiC Contract with U.S. Air Force

August 3, 2010
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GE Aviation has announced a research and development contract worth more than $7 million for solid-state primary power distribution technology using silicon carbide (SiC) power switches applicable to the latest and future U.S. Air Force platforms. The contracting office is Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Air Force Research Laboratories in Ohio.

“Solid-state switching is critical to the smart-grid concept of intelligent power management, control and protection,” said Austin Schaffter, vice president, Electrical Power Systems, GE Aviation. “This is a critical win and proves that the technologies and products that we are investing in are at the cutting edge of the industry. Aircraft electrical power system designs and architectures are rapidly evolving toward higher degrees of both intelligence and fast control, and the SSEDU is a critical technology step in that evolutionary path.”

An electrical distribution unit (EDU) is the first or primary power distribution point on an aircraft after the generators create the electrical power, and historically that initial power distribution has been accomplished by relatively slow electro-mechanical contactors.

Evidence is growing rapidly, however, that more electric aircraft need fast, intelligent switching at the primary distribution point in order to manage both peak power and regenerative energy absorption, and to perform system protections within as little as one millisecond. Accomplishing high-power switching this fast is possible with newly emerging SiC devices such as those being designed and developed at GE’s Global Research Center in Niskayuna, N.Y.

The project includes the design, development, fabrication, test and shipment of a prototype solid state electrical distribution unit, and will be executed within GE’s advanced engineering group at the Vandalia, Ohio, and Cheltenham, UK, facilities.

For more information, visit www.ge.com/aviation.

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