KY Space Grant REU-22-055: Hardware Implementation and Testing of an Advanced Electric Propulsion Inverter

Grants and Contracts Details


In the emerging emission-free electric aircraft systems, power inverter is a critical apparatus interconnecting between energy storage and propulsion motors. Due to the limited on- board power from the energy storage and strict safety requirements, it is of paramount importance to achieve both high energy efficiency and fault-tolerant capability for power inverters. The existing power inverter technologies in the literature generally can only achieve one of these two performance targets. When considering the mission profile of an electric aircraft power inverter, two main operating modes are of more interest. Specifically, when the aircraft is climbing, 100% power output is typically demanded for a short time duration. The second operating mode of interest is cruise mode where much lower output power (e.g., 30% of rated power) is generally demanded for most of the flight time. High efficiency during the cruise mode is preferred to achieve longer flight range, while fault-tolerant operation capability is also essential when there are any semiconductor switching faults. In this REU project, the hardware and testing of an advanced 3-phase 4-leg T-type inverter topology will be conducted, which is to confirm the simulation and theoretical results from the NASA-KY REU project awarded last year. This inverter is expected to provide the experimental verifications and demonstrate the peak power during the climbing mode and high efficiency at the cruising mode, in addition to fault-tolerant capability to semiconductor switching faults. Moreover, throughout this project, a senior undergraduate student, Mr. Jonathan Taylor majoring in electrical engineering at the University of Kentucky, will be mentored and tried by Dr. JiangBiao He in the same department. Jonathan has planned to pursue a M.S. degree on the same research topic upon his B.S. graduation in Spring 2023, and has interest to work in NASA or aviation industries after his master graduation.
Effective start/end date8/15/228/14/23


  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration


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