POETS’s ambitious, innovative approach to improving the power density of next generation electro-thermal systems involves integrating traditionally separate research efforts in mechanical, electrical, and materials engineering. Three interdisciplinary thrusts, optimization and control, system design and analysis, and materials and fabrication, will coordinate POETS’s research activities. A modular, academic test bed will facilitate communication between the thrusts, while practical test beds ranging from power levels of ~1kW (a power tool) to ~1MW (a mining vehicle) will provide stronger proof of the concept technologies POETS hopes to produce.
Designed to break down barriers between the disciplines, POETS’s layered research portfolio encourages rapid commercialization of the center’s technologies. At the stakeholder level, POETS’s industrial partners define the system requirements for future products. These requirements inform system level considerations, which may demand technological improvements. Fundamental, cross disciplinary scientific and engineering research provide insight into how to close the knowledge gaps that prevent technological development. The thrusts, integrated across all three levels of the portfolio, drive interrelated aspects of the fundamental research, enabling technologies, and systems knowledge.
Thrust 1: Optimization and Controls
Optimization and control determines the high level design appropriate for a set of system specifications, how to maximize the operational effectiveness of the system through design, and how to manage power flow during system operation. Supported by information about fundamental physical and manufacturing limitations supplied by thrusts 2 and 3, this thrust will employ analytical and software-based tools that can maximize system performance.
Thrust 2: System Design and Analysis
Systems design and analysis addresses off-line multi-physics design with constraints. This thrust will illustrate the challenges facing integration of electrical and thermal modules. Using off-line multi-physics modeling, simulation, and hardware-in-the-loop testing will demonstrate maximum power densities originating from limitations to materials and fabrication and optimization and controls.
Thrust 3: Materials and Fabrication
Materials must be engineered to push the limit of thermal transport. Next, they must be fabricated and characterized to determine material properties. The development of dynamic thermal structures will be complemented by sub-component fabrication, guided by thrust 2 and integrated into the systems of thrust 1, and high-quality metrology will provide physical parameters to the modeling and simulation in thrust 2.