Mini-PulPS: Miniaturized Pulsed Power Systems for Mission Critical Applications

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OPEN 2021
Houston, Texas
Project Term:
04/27/2022 - 04/26/2025

Critical Need:

Mission-critical applications using pulsed power—such as Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) for subterranean exploration, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and others—typically store the required energy in large capacitor banks, batteries or super-capacitors to be able to discharge it quickly when needed. In high-power applications operating in extreme environments, such as downhole logging, the capacitor banks can be several times larger than the rest of the NMR electronics and are usually the reason for power supply failures. These result in high costs in engineering, manufacturing, and operation. For lower power applications such as a miniaturized NMR system, the peak power requirement is a few watts, suggesting that a battery-operated handheld device is possible.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

The University of Houston aims to develop Miniaturized Pulsed Power System (Mini-PulPS) architectures to improve the power density (with 10-X reduction in capacitor size) and the life of converters used in pulsed power supplies. The University of Houston will perform multi-disciplinary research with Harvard University and Schlumberger-Doll Research Center for high- and low-power NMR applications. These technologies will improve the power converter system efficiency and reliability and reduce the risks of equipment or formation failures. If successful, Mini-PulPS will lead to disruptive adoption in oil and gas as well as healthcare applications in the near term and geothermal systems in the long term, for characterization of sub-surface formations and fluids.

Potential Impact:

The University of Houston will develop Mini-PulPS architectures, which will advance pulsed power applications and advance converter capability toward the miniaturization necessary for transitioning into mobile or handheld platforms.


Mini-PulPS will allow 1000 hours of reliable operation using gallium nitride (GaN) devices in high-temperature downhole-logging environments.


Although developed for oil and gas exploration, Mini-PulPS has potential for use in geothermal exploration and production. A recent example of NMR well-logging for geothermal well placement highlighted the importance of advanced subsurface measurements for the growing renewable energy sector.


Mini-PulPS will enhance U.S. leadership in energy and NMR markets worth >U.S. $6B, covering MRI systems, sub-surface characterization, lab use, and other applications.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Olga Spahn
Project Contact:
Dr. Harish Krishnamoorthy
Press and General Inquiries Email:
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