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* Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology

April 20, 2007

New Purdue lab to expand research on electrical power

Waranatha Abeyagunawardena
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Purdue University is opening a new laboratory dedicated to improving energy efficiency, thanks to a $100,000 gift from a global power management technology company.

The dedication of the International Rectifier Power Electronics Development and Application Lab, known as IR-PEDAL, will take place at 9:30 a.m. Monday (April 23) in Michael Golden Labs, Room 1230.

Two officials from International Rectifier will attend the dedication: Michael Briere, executive vice president for research and development, and Eric Persson, director for technical education. Dennis R. Depew, dean of Purdue's College of Technology, and Robert J. Herrick, head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology, also will participate in the event.

Athula Kulatunga, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology, said the gift from El Segundo, Calif.-based International Rectifier, which made it possible for Purdue to convert the existing space into a 500-square-foot lab, will expand research in electrical energy efficiency.

"The reality is that power electronics components are at the heart of all electrical components, from electric lawnmowers to electric cars," he said. "Having a lab dedicated to the study of these systems will enable students to benefit from technology common in industry, and industry will eventually benefit as we develop research partnerships."

Kulatunga said the lab will focus on applied research in three main areas: motion controls, power conversions and audio amplifiers.

International Rectifier's gift was used to purchase several pieces of equipment for the lab. The facility will be equipped with a motion-control workstation, including a test bench and a torque generator to study electrical loading effects. A power-conversion workstation will allow the development of different electronics circuits to integrate electrical power from alternative sources such as solar and wind. The third main component is called an anechoic chamber, which will be used to test the output of power amplifiers.

In addition, a portion of the funds was used to upgrade the electrical supply in the room to be able to accommodate the new high-powered testing equipment.

The lab will enable students and researchers to build, test and disseminate research findings and display working models of current products being used by International Rectifier and other members of the power industry. Also, the lab will be used to conduct seminars and short courses on power electronic applications to faculty members and those in industry.

"One of the main benefits of IR-PEDAL will be the ability for industry members to display equipment they are currently using in their energy-efficiency studies and allow students an up-close and hands-on experience that they wouldn't ordinarily have," Kulatunga said. "In this way, both the academic and corporate sides will greatly benefit."

Kulatunga said there are plans in place to expand the lab facility.

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology is one of eight departments in the College of Technology. In addition to IR-PEDAL, the department has eight laboratory facilities, including a microcomputer lab, a digital electronics lab, and a communications and advanced electronics lab.

Writer: Kim Medaris, (765) 494-6998,

Source: Athula Kulatunga, (765) 494-7724,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;


Waranatha Abeyagunawardena, an electrical and computer engineering technology graduate student from Sri Lanka, works on high-frequency testing of high-voltage fuses in the new International Rectifier Power Electronics Development and Application Lab at Purdue. The lab, known as IR-PEDAL, is located in Michael Golden Labs. (Purdue University photo)

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