Fayetteville's APEI Earns R&D 100 'Oscar of Innovation'

Arkansas Power Electronics International of Fayetteville has earned its second R&D 100 award, the firm announced Friday.

APEI was recognized for its hybrid, electric-vehicle battery charger that it plans to market later this year. 

The R&D 100 is a prestigious list of the world's top 100 tech-based product innovations included each year in R&D Magazine. The R&D 100 is known as the "Oscars of Innovation" and past award winners have included the flashcube, ATM, fax machine and HDTV.

The 2014 award marks APEI's second inclusion on the list. In 2009, APEI received its first R&D 100 award for a high-temperature silicon carbide power module that was the result of a collaboration with the University of Arkansas and Rohm Co. That module was designed to reduce the size and volume of power electronic systems.

Last year, Springdale's NanoMech was included on the R&D 100 for its TuffTek nano-coating for cutting tools.

APEI specializes in advanced, high-performance electronics for a variety of applications including the defense, aerospace and hybrid/electric-vehicle markets.

At the core of the on-board charger unit is one of APEI’s power modules, which will be released as a standard product later this year. The module’s high-speed switching capability and high-temperature packaging enabled the company to create a battery charger that is more efficient and more powerful than the current commercial technology, company officials said in a news release.

R&D recognized the APEI charger as a major advance in power electronics and said it could play a vital role in allowing the hybrid vehicle market to grow. The technology behind the module was developed for a wide variety of applications inmcluding renewable energy battery charging, distributed grid storage, material handling equipment, boats, handicap mobility vehicles, commercial hybrid vehicles and future military tactical vehicles and systems.

APEI led the development of the battery charger in a collaborative research partnership with Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc.; the National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission, an academic research center based at the University of Arkansas; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Cree Inc.

The collaboration is funded by the Advanced Research Projects Agency in the U.S. Department of Energy.

APEI is a client firm of Innovate Arkansas and the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority.

Comments from both of Arkansas' U.S. senators:

U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.):

"APEI continues to be a leader in technology which pushes the boundaries of what was previously thought possible, as evidenced by their most recent R&D 100 Award. Arkansas is proud to have innovative companies, such as APEI, call the Natural State home."

U.S. Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.):

"Receiving an R&D 100 award is a major accomplishment that recognizes world-class technology and products. The innovation at APEI can drive technology manufacturing job creation in our state. The APEI team is well deserving of this recognition and I congratulate them for their hard work, dedication and commitment to advancement in power electronics."