Air Force, Army Laboratory Award Contracts to Northwest Arkansas Company

The U.S. Air Force has awarded a follow-on contract of $3.5 million to a Northwest Arkansas company.

Arkansas Power Electronics International (APEI), a silicon carbide power module manufacturer, announced this week that it received the new contract that’s targeted at providing high-temperature capable power electronic modules for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

In addition, a $1.5 million award from the Army Research Laboratory will focus on further development of advanced silicon carbide-based power modules for a variety of next-generation power electronics applications, such as motor drives, portable power units, or controlling the charge and discharge of high-voltage storage capacitors.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is one of the first major programs implementing the Air Force’s new “More Electric” and “All Electric” aircraft design philosophy, which mandates the replacement of costly and bulky mechanical hydraulic aircraft flight control systems with lighter, high-reliability, low-maintenance electric motors and drives. The high-power densities and high voltages required to operate mechanical flight systems using electric motors are driving a transition to high-density silicon carbide, power electronic systems that can operate at higher efficiencies, higher voltages, higher power densities, and higher temperatures in comparison with conventional silicon electronics.

The contract will fund the transfer of laboratory -tested silicon carbide power electronics technology developed at APEI to F-35 actuator drive flight systems.

Located in the Arkansas Research and Technology Park in Fayetteville, APEI, Inc. is a high-tech firm dedicated to advancing technology in power electronics systems, electronic motor drives, and power packaging.

APEI is the largest company affiliated with the University of Arkansas at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park, and it specializes in high-performance electronics for a variety of customers and applications, including the defense, aerospace and hybrid/electric vehicle markets. A majority of the company’s 49 employees are University of Arkansas graduates.