Reviewing B-TRAN™ Applications for the EV Market with Ideal Power VP of Business Development Jeff Knapp



KEY POINTS
  • B-TRAN is a bi-directional power semiconductor switch that serves as an innovative replacement for legacy IGBT and MOSFET devices and has significant advantages over these mature technologies in both uni-directional and bi-directional switching applications.
  • B-TRAN is enabling new architectures and solutions to improve EV efficiency, range, and performance, while lowering total system size, cost, and component count.
  • B-TRAN target applications include the traction inverter and charging circuits of an EV and is inherently bi-directional, which supports vehicle-to-grid (V2G) applications and emerging EV applications such as the matrix converter and solid-state circuit breaker.
  • According to the company, B-TRAN yields 50% lower losses in the traction inverter, which translates at the EV efficiency level to a 7-10% improvement. The technology also requires a minimal learning curve for engineers.
  • Ideal Power has won a contract with the US Navy for a solid-state circuit breaker for ship electrification. Management believes this validates the B-TRAN solution.
  • B-TRAN is a topology that can be implemented in next-generation silicon carbide in addition to leveraging the traditional silicon supply chain.
  • The company plans to meet future demand through a fabless production model and is currently aligning itself with multiple fabs and packaging companies in anticipation of mass production.
  • 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 is a bi-directional power semiconductor switch that serves as an innovative replacement for legacy IGBT and MOSFET devices and has significant advantages over these mature technologies in both uni-directional and bi-directional switching applications.

EXECUTIVE DISCUSSION

Executive in Focus: Jeff Knapp is Ideal Power's Vice President of Business Development. In his current role, Jeff is responsible for identifying and capturing new markets for B-TRAN™ solutions globally. Jeff has previously held management positions with Asahi Kasei, United Silicon Carbide, Fuji Electric, Hitachi, and Infineon where he directed the development and execution of strategic plans to promote the sale of power semiconductors. His business development experience has been primarily focused on MOSFET, IGBT, Diode, and IPM (Intelligent Power Module) products, deployed in both Si and SiC material technologies. Under Jeff’s executive leadership, his teams’ design win achievements span applications in production electric vehicles (including inverter and on-board chargers), charging stations, renewables (including solar, wind, and energy storage), power supplies, variable-frequency drives, and solid-state circuit breakers.

Shawn Severson...

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