ECSEL: Charging electric vehicles more efficiently

In the European cooperation project Power2Power, which runs until May 2022, 43 partners from eight countries are jointly conducting research and developing innovative power semiconductors with higher power density and energy efficiency. Power semiconductors are required at all stages of energy conversion: in generation, transmission and use.

Versuchsaufbau zur Messung des Schaltverlusts von Leistungshalbleitern, Internationales Innovationsprojekt (ECSEL) von der BRUSA AG und der ETH
Test rig for measuring the switching loss of power semiconductors
© zvg

This is the first time Switzerland has participated in this kind of ECSEL project: BRUSA Elektronik AG and the Advanced Power Semiconductor Laboratory at ETH Zurich are jointly developing a charger for electric vehicles. “At Power2Power, everyone is working on the same problem, but we’re all carrying out our own sub-projects too,” explains Dr Michael Leibl, Predevelopment Team Leader at BRUSA. The international meetings held every couple of months are very important, not least for knowledge sharing: “As experts in power semiconductors, we all face the same challenges.”

The BRUSA charger, which is already being installed in cars and commercial vehicles, aims to achieve even higher efficiency in the future – and with a longer lifespan too. This not only reduces costs, but more efficient semiconductors make a significant contribution to cutting carbon dioxide emissions despite growing worldwide demand for energy.

Collaboration with ETH Zurich as part of the ECSEL project, which Innosuisse is co-financing, is incredibly valuable, says Leibl. “We couldn’t produce a semiconductor physics model like the one provided by ETH Zurich ourselves. It provides much more accurate data and takes less time than if we were to characterise the power semiconductor based on measurements.”


How the company benefits

Dr Michael Leibl, BRUSA Elektronik AG

Participating in the project enables us to develop in a targeted way new technologies that would otherwise fall outside the mainstream of our day-to-day activities. A medium-sized company like ours does not have the time and money for that kind of venture. Compared with products that are well established on the market, development cycles for electric vehicles are very short, and the financial cost of new innovations is much higher. This means our industry is dependent on such support. In addition to product development, we also hope to attract attention from outside and within the industry. It also helps us attract employees.


How it benefits the university

Prof. Ulrike Grossner, ETH

Cooperating with the company BRUSA gives us as a semiconductor institute access to real-world applications. But it is also important for us to be part of the European network. To draw an analogy, it is as though we Swiss project partners are working together in a small room, but that room is also part of a large house and we can explore other rooms too. We feel part of the wider research community in Europe. In Switzerland we are highly specialised; there is no mass production. But it is also valuable to see how large semiconductor companies operate. And I can share this knowledge with my students, who will later be looking for jobs.


Last modification 14.02.2022

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