Waymo's self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan. Photo courtesy of Waymo.

People drive electric vehicles to either fight climate change or simply because electricity is cheaper than gasoline. One of the drawbacks to electric vehicles (EVs), though, is the concern about their driving distance — sometimes known as “range anxiety.” A Hill District startup, CorePower Magnetics, is confronting that problem.

Founded in 2020, CorePower Magnetics assembles lightweight motors, inductors and transformers that help battery-powered vehicles travel farther. 

Paul Ohodnicki, Jr., the company’s chief technology officer, says during his time working for the U.S. Department of Energy as a research scientist, the programs that he established in cooperation with Carnegie Mellon University became the foundation for CorePower Magnetics. 

To help improve the future of EVs, CorePower uses an advanced metal alloy that carries power at higher frequencies than conventional magnetic materials, allowing vehicles to travel a further distance.  

“Depending on the application, we would have specific alloys that we think would be most relevant for [EV] application,” says Ohodnicki. “But, the general design strategy of the nanocrystal-based alloys is sort of one of the key aspects of some of the CorePower Magnetics technology.”

CorePower Magnetics leaders include (from left) Kevin Byerly, Leah Ohodnicki, Sam Kernion and Paul Ohodnicki, Jr. Photo courtesy of CorePower Magnetics.

During a decade of research at CMU, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded CorePower Magnetics a $5 million grant for its Leading Energy Technologies program. The program works with agricultural equipment maker John Deere and power management company Eaton Corporation.

“The potential of EVs and renewables has created unprecedented needs for more efficient and power-dense magnetics so that EVs can travel farther and charge faster, and the grid can adequately handle growth in demand,” says CorePower Magnetics CEO Sam Kernion in a statement. 

He adds that the company anticipates expanding in the Pittsburgh region “to help solve climate and domestic manufacturing supply chain issues.” 

Jason PhoxGeneral Assignment Reporter

Jason Phox is a journalist in the Pittsburgh area sharing important information with the people of the Steel City. He enjoys writing, photography, and mostly comic books.