By Carsten Nielsen, Journalist at The Engineering, Science and Medicine Faculties Office, Aalborg University.
Key persons from companies in Japan, China, Germany, Italy and Sweden were in attendance when one of the major ventures in Danish energy research presented its first five years of results and future partnering opportunities at Aalborg University.
The strategic research center CORPE (Center of Reliable Power Electronics) is accelerating the transition to more renewable energy by developing necessary cheap and reliable power electronics. One of the principle ideas is to look at the total service life of products because price, for example, can be kept down by designing them “only” to fulfill expectations rather than to last as long as possible.
Interesting people and good machines
The center is able to produce its results thanks to an investment of DKK 90 million from Innovation Fund Denmark, the Obel Family Foundation and participating companies. This has ensured the energy researchers and their industry partners steadily increasing attention during CORPE’s first five years:
– The influx of international companies is a good measure of how well we have done and how recognized we have become. There are also more and more Danish companies that want to partner with us. They come because we offer both interesting people to talk with and good test facilities. Both are relevant to their products and competitiveness, says Frede Blaabjerg, Center Director and Professor in the Department of Energy Technology.
One of the center’s successful models for industrial collaboration is the exchange of people, so company employees do month-long stays at the university while the researchers spend time out in the industry. Many of the PhD students who conclude their research training in CORPE also head directly to companies that know their quality from the center and the collaboration.
– In addition, all our degree programs in the field of energy include instruction in reliability. Five years ago we had no courses in it, says Frede Blaabjerg.
Yasushige Mukunoki, researcher at Mitsubishi Electric, Japan, is one of those who traveled the farthest to take part in the CORPE Symposium in Aalborg.
– This is my first time in Denmark. I’m here on recommendation from a Japanese professor who previously attended and who recommended CORPE as number one in the world right now in the field of power electronics, says the Japanese industry researcher while studying posters with examples of research results from the Danish center.
Materials in focus
The Japanese guest and colleagues from the rest of the world were welcomed to Aalborg University by Dean Mogens Rysholt Poulsen. As of the new year, he will head the new Faculty of Engineering and Science at AAU where energy research will be anchored. The future head of the faculty unveiled a little of what the partners have in store.
We can only succeed if we have strong links to the world around us so it is very satisfying for me to see so many from the industry. Our ambition is to establish some key focus areas at the university, giving us more strength internally while also making us even more interesting to others. One of these areas will be materials and materials science where we bring together researchers and infrastructure from energy technology, power electronics, mechanical engineering and industrial production, as well as business and mathematics, notes Mogens Rysholt Poulsen.
Business participants in CORPE Symposium 2016
Researchers in CORPE (Center of Reliable Power Electronics) deal with reliable power electronics that ends up in wind turbines, solar cells and fuel cells as well as in consumer equipment of all kinds. Power electronics is a key technology in the transition to sustainable energy production because it is used to convert electrical energy from one form to another. This is essential for energy production from solar cells and wind turbines, but the technology can also be used to achieve major energy savings in electrical consumer appliances.
The center conducts research on modeling reliability aspects at the component, device and system levels. The result is design and testing tools that the power electronics industry can use in their future devices.
CORPE includes Aalborg University’s Department of Energy Technology and Department of Physics & Nanotechnology; Aarhus University; Danfoss; Grundfos; Vestas Wind Systems; KK Wind Solutions; RWTH Aachen; and ETH Zurich. CORPE also works with a large number of other businesses at home and abroad.