New miniature pulsed power system could disrupt energy and healthcare industries, say researchers


Function-wise, pulsed power systems accrue and store large amounts of energy for a certain period of time that can be released instantaneously later.

The development of pulsed power systems is strongly correlated with the nuclear period. In the mid-20th century, military weapons such as rail guns and radar systems were fabricated using pulsed power systems.

As the 20th century advanced, pulsed power systems were central to the development of X-ray machines, followed by nuclear magnetic resonance, MRI machines based tools for fossil fuel production.

In a new development, a research team at the University of Houston are working to develop next generation compact pulsed power systems.

A research paper published in IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics proposes to create a compact pulsed power system that can miniaturize the energy storage components of the system such as capacitors and lead to an immediate spike of power.

The paper demonstrates that the energy storage components can be reduced to less than one-tenth size of conventional pulsed power systems used in critical applications such as radar.

The compelling architecture of new pulsed power system led the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy of the U.S. Department of Energy to award a grant of US$ 1 million to develop gallium-nitride-based miniaturized pulsed power system. The primary team will work with researchers from Schlumberger and Harvard University who are sub-recipients of the grant.

To get started, the researchers intend to make a close-packed pulsed power supply for maximum environment fluid characterization that can drastically reduce the cost of downhole well logging devices used in fossil fuel and geothermal energy production. This will be followed by a mini converter suitable for mobile hand-held MRI machines.

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