Power Electronics

Awards Recognize Power Electronics Innovation

Recently announced awards and testimonials from different industry and research organizations highlight innovations in three important segments of power electronics. One award recognizes STMicroelectronics for its development of unique rad hard linear regulator ICs that were critical to the success of particle physics experiments. Another announcement provides independent verification of exceptional performance in an ac-dc power supply from ColdWatt. And in the last case, an analyst firm cites UltraCell for its innovative micro fuel cell technology.

STMicroelectronics (www.st.com) has announced that the ATLAS Collaboration at CERN, the European Centre for Nuclear Research, near Geneva, Switzerland, has honored ST with an ATLAS Supplier Award for the development and delivery of radiation-hard (rad hard) voltage regulators for use in CERN’s giant ATLAS experiment. The Award, which was presented in Geneva by Peter Jenni, leader of the ATLAS Collaboration, recognizes the close cooperation between ST and CERN in developing these unique devices. The ICs are now available on the open market as the RHFL4913 (positive) and RHFL7913 (negative) low dropout voltage regulators for satellite and other aerospace applications.

ATLAS is one of the two large CERN particle physics experiments built to explore the fundamental nature of matter and the basic forces that shaped the universe. In the ATLAS experiment, protons will collide at record energies up to 7 trillion electron volts (TeV) per proton provided by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). ST has delivered some 40,000 of the specially developed rad-hard voltage regulators to the ATLAS project for use in the Liquid Argon Calorimeter front-end electronics, in the power distribution of the pixel detector and transition-radiation tracking detector, and in other subsystems.

“We are very proud to receive an ATLAS Supplier Award, which underlines our ability to deliver products that operate reliably under such harsh radiation conditions,” said Carmelo Papa, Corporate Vice President of ST’s MPA (Micro, Power and Analog) Group which developed the devices when ATLAS scientists found that no voltage regulator was available on the market to satisfy their challenging technical requirements. These included the need to supply sufficient current reliably while operating in an hostile environment with very high levels of radiation. Further information about the ATLAS Collaboration can be found at http://atlas.ch.

Meanwhile, ColdWatt (www.coldwatt.com) has announced that its approach to energy efficient power solutions for enterprise server equipment has been validated by EPRI Solutions a wholly owned, independently managed subsidiary of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). The unit submitted by ColdWatt was a production ready ac-dc power supply used in 1U server equipment with power redundancy.

Rated at 700 W of output at 12 V dc, the power supply delivered an outstanding 87% efficiency from 50% through 100% of rated output power. Also noteworthy was the unit’s 80% efficiency at 20% of rated output power, a typical operating point for idle server resources. ColdWatt points to these measurements as indicators of industry leading performance in efficiency across the operating range.

EPRI Solutions and ColdWatt are both concerned with the environmental and operational impact of energy efficiency in enterprise IT equipment. “Savvy IT professionals across the industry now realize that there are big savings linked to the efficiency of power supplies in data center equipment,” said Dr. Arshad Mansoor, Vice President, Power Delivery Business Unit, EPRI Solutions. “We applaud companies like ColdWatt who are committed to innovating energy efficient technologies.”

UltraCell (www.ultracellpower.com), a developer of micro fuel cells, has been cited by the marketing research firm Gartner in its list of "Cool Vendors in Emerging Technologies, 2006.” This report was published March 30, 2006 by Gartner, and was authored by Martin Reynolds, et al. Gartner's listing does not constitute an exhaustive list of vendors in any given technology area, but rather is designed to highlight interesting, new and innovative vendors, products and services.

In summarizing its scope, the Gartner report states: “We examine two sets of related technologies: applications that tie to massively scalable computing resources, and the hardware and software technologies that can cost effectively deliver those resources. We also identify two breakthrough vendors with portable power solutions.”

“We are very pleased to be cited in the ‘Cool Vendors’ list by such a respected organization as Gartner,” said James Kaschmitter, UltraCell CEO. “From our perspective, this is a recognition of our groundbreaking reformed methanol fuel cell technology. UltraCell is leading the way in providing a Totally Wireless solution for portable electronics.”

According to Kaschmitter, the UltraCell 25-W fuel cell, for example, will be able to run a ruggedized laptop computer for up to two working days on a single fuel cell cartridge. It will also run other portable electronic equipment operating off of simple and inexpensive methanol cartridges.

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