GE Aviation announced an R&D contract worth more than $7 million for the first solid-state primary power distribution technology using Silicon Carbide (SiC) power switches applicable to the latest and future United States 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. 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.
—Austin Schaffter, vice president, Electrical Power Systems for GE Aviation
An electrical distribution unit, or 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 milli-second. 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 (GRC) in Niskayuna, NY.
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.