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Mersen accepts Google's "Little Box Challenge" to design a revolutionary inverter

April 8, 2015


Mersen has accepted Google’s “Little Box Challenge” to design a power inverter that is about 10 times smaller than what is available today.  According to Google “shrinking an inverter from the size of a cooler to the size of a laptop will help to revolutionize electricity for the next century.”

 

Google and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) are offering a US $1 million prize to anyone who can design a >3W/cm3, 2kVA DC-AC power converter with the required power density, efficiency (>95%) and overall dimensions (<655 cm3). Making a smaller inverter would enable more solar-powered homes, more efficient distributed electrical grids, and could help bring electricity to the most remote parts of the planet.

 

Working with extreme requirements will require using state-of-the-art technologies across several core competencies to design and complete this challenge.  Mersen will offer its internationally recognized competence in liquid and air cooling to design a best-in-class thermal management solution that perfectly fits our partner’s component. TM4 will bring its expertise in inverter design and transistor gate driver know-how. PRIMES will be the key partner for power chip integration and packaging. The project will also benefit from Griset patented iTBC material to optimize thermal behavior of the semiconductor chips.  Such a synergic development will enable size optimization and electrical operation improvement.

 

The team will submit the technical approach and testing application document by July 2015, the results of the contest being reported in January 2016.

Power inverters are electronic devices that are essential for a number of varied applications. For example, they can take direct current from devices such as solar panels and batteries and turn it into alternating current for use in homes, businesses, and cars.

 

A recognized international expert in cooling solutions for power electronics systems, Mersen has joined forces with partners who are experts in their field in order to meet this challenge: the Canadian company TM4, for its expertise in inverter design and industrial electric steering motors; the PRIMES innovation platform for its abilities in integration and installation of power chips; and the French company Griset for iTBC®, its patented material whose thermal properties are specially adapted for electronic power modules.


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