Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is working to develop and demonstrate a new bi-directional transistor switch that would significantly simplify the power conversion process for high-voltage, high-power electronics systems. A transistor switch helps control electricity, converting it from one voltage to another or from an Alternating Current (A/C) to a Direct Current (D/C). High-power systems, including solar and wind plants, usually require multiple switches to convert energy into electricity that can be transmitted through the grid. These multi-level switch configurations are costly and complex, which drives down their overall efficiency and reliability. RPI’s new switch would require fewer components than conventional high-power switches. This simple design would in turn simplify the overall power conversion process and enable renewable energy sources to more easily connect to the grid.
If successful, RPI’s new transistor switch could accelerate the development and deployment of modern and advanced grid infrastructures, resulting in increased use of renewable energy sources.
A more efficient, reliable grid would be more resilient to potential disruptions from failure, natural disasters, or attack.
Enabling increased use of renewable energy sources would result in a substantial decrease in carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S.—40% of which are produced by electricity generation.
A more efficient grid could help protect U.S. businesses from costly power outages and brownouts that stop automated equipment, bring down factories, and crash computers.