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UQM to Develop Motor/Generator Controller for Air Force Hybrid and Li-Ion EV Truck Testing

UQM Technologies has been awarded a $1.08 million contract supplement to an existing U.S. Air Force contract to convert a conventional one-half ton pickup truck to all-electric operation.

The contract supplement expands the scope of work to add the development of an electronic motor/generator controller that utilizes high operating temperature silicon carbide power switching modules.

UQM is developing the controller for the USAF Advanced Power Technology Office of the 542nd Combat Sustainment Wing at Robins Air Force Base in cooperation with the U.S. Army National Automotive Center and Mississippi State University.

The Air Force expects to field-test the controller in at least one of the Air Force’s hybrid electric vans, buses and/or in the all-electric pickup truck powered by lithium-ion batteries currently being built by the Company.

The contract supplement increases the total contract value to $1.83 million and extends the expected completion date to March 31, 2007. Initial delivery and testing of the all-electric pickup truck will not be impacted by the contract supplement and is scheduled for March 2006.

This program is focused on the development and application of high power silicon carbide modules that are currently not available. Silicon carbide power modules offer the advantage of substantially higher operating temperatures when compared to traditional silicon modules, and motor/generator controllers that use silicon carbide are able to operate in harsher environments which opens up new platform opportunities and simplifies vehicle architectures. This technology is of significant interest to both military and commercial hybrid electric vehicle customers, and we are excited that the Air Force has selected UQM to lead this effort.

—Jon Lutz, UQM Technologies’ Director of Engineering


John Baldwin

In a war situation, where does the electricity come from? Seems a fairly fatal flaw!!


Hybrid electric vehicles are interesting to the military for a reason. For example it's very good if your tank or whatever can have a silent electric drive in combat situations while using the ordinary diesel when just driving around.

Why they do all electric I have no idea. Probably just playing around with their research funds.

Chris Robison

John, in a war situation, where does the diesel fuel come from? A person can't portably "generate" refined petroleum for an internal combustion engine. Electricity is another matter entirely. Especially in the desert, soldiers are swimming in unharnessed energy -- it's just a matter of converting it for use. The more of your operation you run on electricity, the more flexible you can be; finding or bringing sources of remote generation (hydro, wind, solar, heck even nuclear or microwave) is a lot easier than fighting to keep a long supply line open in hostile territory. And if you listen to the doomsdayers and peak-oilers, well maybe in fifty years there won't be so much cheap oil to refine anymore, for fuel at a price the military can justify.

Definitely, the common problems still exist -- batteries don't store enough, solar cells don't generate enough per unit of surface area. But these problems are finally being dealt with the only way they really can be -- massive rivers of money. Like the money Wall Street is now betting on solar and the huge automotive manufacturer funded upswing in lithium battery development due to the popularity of hybrids. And then there's the point of this article here, which is to say that soon there will be devices capable of controlling electrical power in extremely harsh environments. For the military, I think it's just another piece for their puzzle.

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