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MAJOR DANISH ENERGY RESEARCH CENTER LAUNCHES AMBITIOUS NEW PLAN

Over 250 scientific articles, several international awards, and close partnerships with Danish and international companies on the development of reliable energy-saving electronics. This is the upshot as one of Aalborg University’s largest initiatives on energy now takes stock – and launches a new and ambitious DKK 100 million plan

With a total investment of DKK 95 million, the strategic research center "CORPE" (Center Of Reliable Power Electronics) has been working the last four years on developing cheaper electronics and more efficient systems that accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources. The basic idea is that products should be designed to have exactly the reliability and durability needed. No more and no less.

By and large the center’s activities have been successful. We’ve created awareness in this new area and achieved some really good research results that can be used both in the industry and as a platform for generating more knowledge. This has put us on the map so that other companies and universities turn to Denmark and Aalborg in this area, sums up the center's director, Frede Blaabjerg Professor at Aalborg University’s Department of Energy Technology.

CORPE WITH A +

The center is in the fifth and final year of its initial grant, so at a recently held symposium the center director was also looking forward. In front of the hundred participants including representatives from nearly twenty companies and partners from other universities, he unveiled "CORPE+"

- Academically, in terms of industry and from a societal perspective, it makes good sense to carry on with these activities. Our aim is to have the same staff volume as today, but we will expand our testing facilities so that they’re fully world class and we can better verify predictions for products. So we’re very ambitious in initiating activities in the next five years with over DKK 100 million, says Frede Blaabjerg.

In his opinion, anything less will not do because the center covers a wide technical area where researchers work in a cross-disciplinary manner combining knowledge in areas such as electricity, materials, physics and statistics. Furthermore, it is natural that it will take some years before the effect of focusing on the reliability of new products is clear.

- It can be 5, 10 or 15 years before we can assess the impact of products that were designed based on tools we’ve made, depending on how long the product is designed to last. So we still don't quite know how much effect this has. But there’s no doubt that this will have an effect, because companies increasingly focus on designing their products based on the knowledge we’ve delivered, thinks Frede Blaabjerg.

COMPANIES' OWN INITIATIVE

Leading Danish energy and electronics companies such as Danfoss, Grundfos, KK Wind Solutions and Vestas were originally included in initiating CORPE. The financing of future plans in CORPE + also depends on their and other industry contributions for new projects. In addition, funds will be sought from external foundations and public sources for the necessary research infrastructure like equipment and laboratory facilities.

While scientific results and publications weigh heavily for Frede Blaabjerg and the other researchers, the industry is focused on tangible improvements and new products, paving the way for collaboration. Thorkild Kvisgaard, Global Technology Manager in Grundfos and Vice Chair of CORPE, articulates the ambitions in a new video presentation:

- The aim is to create reliable and robust solutions for the future, and given that the challenge of reliability is substantial and very complex, we decided to work together. We can then share knowledge on a difficult issue that a single company or a single university cannot easily address on its own.

MORE COMPETITION ON THE WAY

CORPE director Frede Blaabjerg is prepared for the fact that the planned continuation of activities will happen in fierce competition with similar actions elsewhere.  He sees this as a sort of recognition:

- We’ve put this issue on the international stage and many universities are in the process of copying what we’ve done, so we’ll have some tough competition. Not just in Europe. The Chinese are very interested in establishing similar centers at their universities, and they have the money, so some staggering amounts will be invested there, says Frede Blaabjerg.

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FACTS

  • CORPE (Center of Reliable Power Electronics) is supported by the Innovation Fund (formerly the Danish Council for Strategic Research) and the Obel Family Foundation.
  • See the program for the CORPE Symposium 2015.
  • View the new presentation video from CORPE.
  • Researchers in CORPE deal with reliable power electronics that ends up in wind turbines, solar cells and fuel cells as well as in consumer equipment of all kinds. Power electronics is a key technology in the transition to sustainable energy production because it is used to convert electrical energy from one form to another. This is essential for energy production from solar cells and wind turbines, but the technology can also be used to achieve major energy savings in electrical consumer appliances.
  • The center conducts research on modeling the reliability aspects at the component, device and system levels. The result is design and testing tools that the power electronics industry can use in their future devices. The center is also actively involved in standardization in the field.
  • CORPE includes Aalborg University's Department of Energy Technology and Department of Physics & Nanotechnology, Aarhus University, Danfoss, Grundfos, Vestas Wind Systems, KK Wind Solutions, RWTH Aachen, ETH Zurich and CALCE (the Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering) at the University of Maryland.

CONTACT

  • Frede Blaabjerg, Professor, Dept. of Energy Technology, Aalborg University, Mobile +45 2129 2454.
  • Carsten Nielsen, Science Journalist, Aalborg University, Mobile: +45 2340 6554.

Professor Frede Blaabjerg, Aalborg University & CORPE.