B-TRAN™ in Circuit Breaker Applications with Ideal Power CEO Dan Brdar



KEY POINTS
  • B-TRAN™-based solid-state circuit breakers (SSCBs) act orders of magnitude faster than incumbent electromechanical devices. As a result, the fault current is much lower and the electric arc is prevented, eliminating potential fires, wear on the breaker contacts, and potential damage to other equipment in the system. They also offer longer breaker life through the elimination of moving parts, which leads to greater reliability, safety, and quiet operation.
  • Ideal Power recently announced a partnership with Diversified Technologies, Inc. (DTI) under a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the DOE to develop a B-TRAN™-driven low-loss 13.8 kV alternating current (AC) SSCB. The SSCB is intended to be used in medium voltage power distribution and renewable energy / microgrid connection to the US main power grid.
  • In the Phase I project, DTI and Ideal Power will design a 50 MW, 13.8 kV-class SSCB, build and demonstrate B-TRAN™ switch modules to interrupt AC power, and confirm the efficiency and speed of the B-TRAN™ devices in AC operation. If successful and awarded a Phase 2 grant, DTI and Ideal Power will build and test a full 50 MW SSCB.
  • Following Phase 2, management believes commercialization of B-TRAN™-based AC SSCBs could occur in 2023 and estimates $3,000 to $5,000 of content per circuit breaker. A typical microgrid could easily have 5-10 circuit breakers.
  • Our prior content on IPWR can be accessed HERE.

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OUR INSIGHTS

The Opportunities

With development and commercialization progressing, Ideal Power is well-placed to capture a slice of the large and growing $6.0 billion IGBT power switches market. Owing to their superior performance and efficiency, bi-directionality, and fewer thermal management requirements, B-TRAN™ power switches may be able to replace IGBTs in many applications. As the primary end markets such as EVs, renewables, and data center UPS grow, B-TRAN™ could be looking at expanded market opportunities. Currently, there is no high-efficiency bi-directional design available in the market, which makes potential competitors also potential licensees for B-TRAN™ technology, according to the company.

The Obstacles

The company has a history of operating losses. If the focus on B-TRAN™ development and commercialization is delayed or unsuccessful, the company’s business operations will be adversely affected. The company’s results will be materially affected if its semiconductor fabricator partners are unable to successfully and cost-effectively develop and implement new process steps required for bi-directional semiconductor device production at the prototype stage or at scale or if required time to evaluate, redesign, test, and certify is longer than expected. Competitors are expected to include well-established incumbent power semiconductor device suppliers.

B-TRAN™-based solid-state circuit breakers (SSCBs) act orders of magnitude faster than incumbent electromechanical devices. As a result, the fault current is much lower and the electric arc is prevented, eliminating potential fires, wear on the breaker contacts, and potential damage to other equipment in the system. They also offer longer breaker life through the elimination of moving parts, which leads to greater reliability, safety, and quiet operation.

EXECUTIVE DISCUSSION

Executive in Focus: Dan Brdar is President, CEO, and Director of Ideal Power Inc. Mr. Brdar has over 25 years of experience in the power systems and energy industries and has held a variety of leadership positions during his career. From 2012 through April 2018, Mr. Brdar served as CEO & President of Ideal Power Inc. From 2006 through 2011, he was President & CEO of FuelCell Energy Inc., a Nasdaq-listed company with a market cap of over $250 million. During his tenure, the company's revenues increased 235%, to $100 million, manufacturing production increased by over 200% and over $100 million was raised from institutional and strategic investors. Prior to joining Ideal Power Inc., Mr. Brdar served as the COO of Petra Solar, a privately held, venture funded solar and smart grid company, where he held full P&L responsibility and led a cross-functional management team across several international markets. From 1997 to 2000, Mr. Brdar held management position...

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