Fayetteville Company Poised to Amp Up 'Power' Production

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Mar. 5, 2012 12:00 am  


Power Electronics

"Power electronics" are parts used in almost any industrial technology. Anyone using a laptop computer is familiar with the boxlike object attached to the AC adaptor - that's a power electronics system.

"What it does is it takes the type of power that comes out of the wall and converts it into the type of power the electronics in laptops can use," Lostetter said.

APEI's work goes far beyond laptop computers.

"We do military systems, aircraft, hybrid vehicles, satellites, spacecraft, things like that," Lostetter said. "On a satellite, you have a solar array that turns power into electricity. Then you need to change that into a form that computers and electronics can use.

"We focus on making things small, lightweight, highly efficient. We're in a brand new, state-of-the-art type of technology we're developing."

APEI handles clients both from the government and the private sectors. The company's main commercial client is Toyota USA, and it also is teamed up with Rohm Co. Ltd., a large electronic parts supplier in Japan.

Many APEI products are designed for the U.S. military, specifically the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development & Engineering Center. APEI's products frequently are tested and optimized for the military, then further designed for commercial use.

"Our goal is, after we get it into high-performing systems, we'll expand the volume we can do, drive the costs down and get into more everyday uses," Lostetter said. "In the next five years or so, we'll be getting into some more commercial uses."

APEI has little in the way of stateside competition. Baldor Electric Co. of Fort Smith creates motor drives, which also involve power electronics. Even so, there's not much overlap.

"Baldor manufactures premium efficient motors," Baldor marketing communications manager Shawn Traylor said. "We also manufacture many other mechanical products like gearboxes, bearings and a whole host of products used in the industry. I don't know that we have anything that makes these two alike."



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