Feeds

How to make power conversion less sucky

And a whole lot cheaper

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The next step in data security

A stealth startup company whose power-conversion tech could save billions through reductions in energy loss, has gone public, revealing why companies such as Google and Kleiner Perkins have invested heavily in its ambitious plans.

Transphorm reduces the amount of power lost when energy is converted from one form to another. The company has attracted a sizeable amount of investment – $38m so far – from Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, Foundation Capital and Lux Capital. Such heavy investment is probably unsurprising amid claims this technology can reduce billion-dollar energy losses.

Transphorm says conversion loss accounts for 10 per cent of all energy in the US, equating to $40bn. Its tech can apparently reduce this loss by 90 per cent, a bold claim perhaps, but if true, could signify not only huge savings in finance, but a mammoth reduction in CO2 emission.

As it stands, Transphorm currently embeds its conversion devices in circuits designed for solar panels, industrial motors and data centres. Yet this is a technology that appears ripe for other applications, including one of the biggest environmental concerns, car engines.

As hybrid and electric cars also convert electricity from AC to DC, Transphorm's tech has the potential to give EVs a longer range as well as smaller battery sizes.

“We are going to start working on it soon. But I believe it will take three years to five years before it becomes something the automotive sector will have the stomach for," says CEO Umesh Mishra in an interview with VentureBeat.

Gallium nitride - a material commonly found in LED lighting - is the key ingredient in Transphorm's methods, as it's an extremely low-resistance material that simultaneously holds off large voltage. Silicon, the traditional material for power-conversion, has "reached its fundamental limits", says Mishra - limits that Transphorm has now apparently surpassed by using Gallium nitride.

The initial investments in Transphorm will go toward supporting customers orders. Mishra says the company looks to expand facilities next year, by which time it aims to raise further funding.

While Google data centres may well become cheaper to run, it seems like the drive towards cheaper motoring is still some way up the road. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Stray positrons caught on ISS hint at DARK MATTER source
Landlubber scope-gazers squint to horizons and see anti-electron count surge
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.