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Semikron, PCS team up for high efficiency converter system

Posted: 24 Oct 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Semikron? converter system? wind turbine? solar inverters?

Semikron recently completed a cooperative research project with PCS and TU Dresden to design of a new converter system.

The project, titled 'More efficient use of regenerative energies with multi-level topologies C EEMT', was backed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) within the framework of the 'Power Electronics for Improved Energy Efficiency" initiative, as well as the German government's high-tech strategy and the "Information and Communication Technology 2020' (ICT 2020) initiative with a total endowment of around $1.65 million dollars.

During the course of the research project, Semikron was tasked with designing an inverter system with new modular phase components, which would then be integrated into an innovative power converter by PCS. The driver circuitry and protective components were developed by the Electrical Engineering Institute's Chair for Power Electronics at the Technical University of Dresden.

The original project focused on improving the efficiency of wind turbines applications. However the group was able to expand upon this concept. In the future, these converters could also be used with highly robust drives for raw materials mining, with main drive and onboard power supply systems in rail vehicles, for 1500VDC overhead lines as well as with solar inverters.

With the innovative converter system created as a result of this initiative, electrical energy that is generated using wind turbines or solar power modules can be efficiently and inexpensively converted for supplying the power supply network. Variable speed drives are an additional possible area of use. In order for the generated power to meet the minimum feed-in quality requirements, standard converters now available in the market require electrical filter switches which result in high loss levels. The multi-level topology applied as part of the EEMT project has resulted in a significant reduction in the role of these filters and the resulting losses.

For low-voltage applications that have their own grid connection transformers, such as wind turbines or solar power modules, the voltage level can now be increased to just under the medium voltage level. This approach makes sense because it enables low losses; however it cannot be realised using IGBT converters with a conventional two-point topology. By using these more technologically advanced, intelligent three-point phase components, energy efficiency is improved and economic benefits can be realised. Other applications with DC steady-state voltage of over 1300V already must focus on this kind of switching technology if 1200V/1700V standard IGBTs are used.

Communication between the phase components, which are equipped with 3-level IGBT modules, occurs on the basis of a decentralized modulator, which allows for plug-and-play integration in a conventional converter system. A central controller and decentralized phase components are synchronised via serial high-speed EtherCAT data bus connections.

To test the functionality and to check all of the technical features, a 1.0MW prototype was also created as part of the project.

- Paul Buckley
??EE Times

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