Converter Architectures

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Abstract

Power Electronics plays a very important role in the electrical power conversion and is widely used in transportation, renewable energy and utility applications. By 2020, 80% of electrical power will go through power electronics converters somewhere between generation, transmission, distribution and consumption. So high-efficiency, high-power-density and high-reliability are very important for power electronics converters. The conventional power electronics devices are based on silicon materials and have reached the limit of their potential. The emergence of wide-bandgap (WBG) material such as silicon-carbide (SiC) and Gallium-Nitride (GaN) based devices has brought in clear opportunities enabling compact, more efficient power converters, operating at higher voltages, frequencies and powers to meet the increasing demand by a range of existing and emerging applications. For example, more/full electric aircrafts with hybrid propulsion requires 10s of MW efficient power conversion with high frequency drives, higher voltage levels as well as higher power density. Wireless power charging is pushing the frequency from 100s of kHz to MHz at kW power level to minimise passive elements such as inductors and capacitors. Transformerless, compact, high-efficiency medium-voltage (1kV~10kV) power conversion enabled by high voltage SiC devices is critical for the realisation of power electronics based distribution networks (including energy storage interfacing) for smart grid as well as future transportation systems.

Whilst WBG devices offer the possibility to operate at higher voltages with lower on-state losses, and faster switching speeds than Si devices, maximising the performance benefits at a converter level creates a range of interrelated challenges. For example, high voltage and current changing rates of WBG devices will generate significant electro-magnetic-interference (EMI) and affect the running of other equipment. Identifying the most effective circuit topologies, passive component technologies and control methods, and managing the very high switching rates to extend the frequency/voltage/power envelope present great challenges to power electronic engineers, but are vital if the true potential of WBG circuits is to be achieved. They therefore form the main motivation for this project.

This Converter Architecture (CA) project brings together the UK's best academic and industrial expertise to investigate optimal converter architectures, advanced passive components design methods, fast speed control techniques and holistic optimisation to realise the full potential of WBG devices in achieving higher efficiency, high power density with extended voltage, frequency and power handling capability.

Planned Impact

The Converter Architectures (CA) topic, along with the four other Topics, will directly contribute to the delivery of the underpinning research undertaken within the UK EPSRC Centre for Power Electronics, and to the dissemination and exploitation of the resultant research innovations. The proposed technologies of high-efficiency, high-density wide-bandgap (WBG) power converters with extended frequency, voltage and power capability will benefit a range of electrical power conversion applications and will also enable new applications such as aircraft hybrid electric propulsion, wireless EV charging, power-electronics based distribution network, etc, which are enablers for low-energy/low-carbon economy with the UK taking an international lead in this field. The technologies and know-how developed during this project will be available to UK industry for exploitation, principally through companies involved in power electronic converter development, passive component manufacture and power conversion system integrators.

The project will benefit UK companies and manufacturers with improved knowledge and opportunities with new WBG devices and clearer pathways for implementing research outcomes with increased IP residing in the UK. The electronics industry, where UK remains competitive, contributes around £16bn to UK GDP and provides direct employment to over 300,000 people in 12,000 companies. The contribution and economic impact to these figures is not only direct component sales, but also the infrastructure of indirect equipment manufacturers, with a high percentage of exports. Taken overall, if the UK could become the world leader in providing new WBG-device-based high-performance power electronics equipment with the technologies developed through this project, the economic impact for the UK could be considerable.

The project will benefit the society by reducing greenhouse emissions and enhanced opportunity for meeting future targets (e.g. 2020 and 2050 goals for CO2 eduction) through more efficient power conversion, cleaner urban environment due to enhanced impact of clean transportation (electric/hybrid vehicles, rail, 'more electric' aircraft systems, ship propulsion) and better electrical grid infrastructure with greater adoption of renewable energy sources

The project will benefit the academia by having new scientific breakthroughs on WBG converter architectures, control and design optimisation through the research, with follow-on funding from external bodies (Innovate UK, EPSRC, EC, Industry). The research results will be widely disseminated through leading international conferences and journals.

The project will provide greater supply of and more coordinated approach to train young researchers, PhD students, engineers from industrial partners to address skill shortage in power electronics, e.g. by embedding the generated knowledge and skills into undergraduate and postgraduate teaching, technical workshops, industrial lectures, etc.

The project partners have a strong track record in generating high impact from their work, including engagement with a wide range of industrial collaborators. Impact will be managed as an activity of the Hub of the Centre, through the Executive Management Team and the affiliated Industry Advisory Group as well as through the five topics via four routes:

1. Establish the Centre brand as a natural point of contact for power electronics expertise through active dissemination; build the public image of power electronics/engineering and its importance to society.
2. Promote the transfer of knowledge and IP gained from the research to the UK industrial community and stimulate new business activity.
3. Contribute to the development of relevant policy through engagement with national government, national and international funding bodies and professional societies.
4. Build collaborative links with leading academic groups and other relevant industrial organisations around the world.
 
Description Through the first year of this project, we have identified the most efficient converter topologies for using wide-bandgap power electronics devices to convert electric power from one form (e.g. DC) to another (e.g. AC). We have also identified the benefits of using high-frequency power conversion and their potential applications such as wireless power transfer.
Exploitation Route The developed technologies can be used or embedded in medium voltage power conversion products, e.g. for full/hybrid electric aircraft, medium voltage motor drive.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Electronics,Energy

 
Description Attended the Automotive Challenge Network Symposium - 2018 (Aldhaher S, Yates D) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Wireless Power is a key enabler for decarbonising transport and given the government push for a move to EVs by 2040, has a massive role to play. There are other benefits in enabling improved defence and security applications.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Attended the Stephen Challenge Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Wireless Power is a key enabler for decarbonising transport and given the government push for a move to EVs by 2040, has a massive role to play. There are other benefits in enabling improved defence and security applications.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Automotive Challenge Network Roadmap Workshop 31-1-19 (AJF) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Cross-sector discussion and comparison of technology priorities - Road map discussion

Development of power electronic technologies that enable the electrification of transport and energy systems more generally, providing a route to a more sustainable energy future, and which provide design and manufacturing opportunities to UK businesses.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Challenge Network in Automotive Power Electronics Symposium 2018. 14-11-18 (AJF) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Development of power electronic technologies that enable the electrification of transport and energy systems more generally, providing a route to a more sustainable energy future, and which provide design and manufacturing opportunities to UK businesses.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description IET PEMD conference 2018 Power Electronics theme co-chair (RT). 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Development of power electronic technologies that enable the electrification of transport and energy systems more generally, providing a route to a more sustainable energy future, and which provide design and manufacturing opportunities to UK businesses.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description IET PEMD conference 2020 Power Electronics theme co-chair (RT). 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Development of power electronic technologies that enable the electrification of transport and energy systems more generally, providing a route to a more sustainable energy future, and which provide design and manufacturing opportunities to UK businesses.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Panel session on wide bandgap devices for power electronics; Joint event with converters theme, Compound Semiconductor Catapult involved 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Wireless Power is a key enabler for decarbonising transport and given the government push for a move to EVs by 2040, has a massive role to play. There are other benefits in enabling improved defence and security applications.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation delivered (RT) at the IET Challenging Test Rigs for Power Electronics, and Motors and Drives, 29/Nov/2017, 'High speed power electronic converters and innovative cooling'. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Development of power electronic technologies that enable the electrification of transport and energy systems more generally, providing a route to a more sustainable energy future, and which provide design and manufacturing opportunities to UK businesses.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Tutorial on SiC power device applications in ECCE 2018 conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The dissemination activities listed above make both the academic and industrial community aware of the research undergoing within the project. This will facilitate future collaboration opportunities and knowledge transfer.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Wireless Power Week 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact .
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Wireless Power Week (WPW), Montreal 2018 - won best student paper and best hardware demo 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Wireless Power is a key enabler for decarbonising transport and given the government push for a move to EVs by 2040, has a massive role to play. There are other benefits in enabling improved defence and security applications.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Workshop organised during Power Electronics Centre annual conference on the topic of converter architectures 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact This project will develop very high-efficiency and high-density wide-bandgap device based power electronics converters. The research will improve energy conversion efficiency and enable new applications for energy saving, e.g. for transportation electrification and renewable energy applications. The research will contribute to a low-carbon, low-energy society and economy. The developed advanced power converters if taken by industry will provide them with unique technology competitiveness for their products based on the technology and their sales will contribute to the economy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018