Grid-Integrated Electric Drive Analysis for The Ohio State University

NREL performed thermal management analysis and simulations on a high-performance, high-speed drive—developed by The Ohio State University—that can integrate with electric grids.Photo of a man operating laboratory equipment, specifically a boiling vessel with cooling loops.

This work can be considered as a pilot study for the future generation of energy-efficient, high-power-density, high-speed integrated medium/high-voltage drive systems. This project explores grid application development, testbed, and analysis for medium-voltage silicon carbide to achieve maximum systems benefits.

For the thermal management analysis and simulations, NREL:

  • Developed 3-D, finite element analysis thermal models for commercially available power modules to incorporate into the system design and to identify heat sink requirements
  • Performed analysis of commercially available air-cooled heat sinks
  • Prepared preliminary system thermal model and shared system-level impacts of heat sink, fan, and system layout design options
  • Developed computational fluid dynamics models for analysis of alternative air-cooled, heat-sink designs and fans.

The research supported The Ohio State University's project milestone for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing and Industrial Decarbonization Offices


If successful, The Ohio State University's electric drive will significantly advance transformer-less drive technologies for a range of industries and motor applications.

The technical benefits of medium-voltage silicon carbide-enabled power electronic systems are:

  • Increased operating flexibility
  • Improved reliability and resiliency
  • High penetration of distributed generation
  • Minimized energy storage requirements
  • Versatility with other technologies.


Learn more about NREL's power electronics and electric machines research capabilities.


NREL collaborated with The Ohio State University to perform thermal analysis on its electric drive. NREL also secured partnership with wide bandgap semiconductors manufacturer, Wolfspeed, to gain access to its newest line of silicon carbide modules.


Barry Mather

Group Research Manager III - Electrical Engineering