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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

TM4 introduces a bi-directional charger inverter

September 05, 2017

In a strategic move to broaden its product offering, TM4 has introduced a new bi-directional charger inverter, the BCI20. TM4 developed this product in collaboration with Convertronix, a Québec-based company specialized in the design and manufacturing of power conversion equipment.

The TM4 BCI20 functions as battery charger and inverter for use in a variety of electric and hybrid vehicle applications. It is designed to use the full current range from the AC mains as defined in SAE J1772 for a maximum charge power of 18kW on 240 VAC. When the vehicle is in use, the charger becomes a dual inverter that can provide two independent three phase outputs of 9kVA each to power various AC auxiliary loads.

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New Bosch e-axle integrates motor, power electronics, transmission; mass production in 2019

September 02, 2017

Leveraging its experience with electromobility components, Bosch has developed a new generation electric axle drive, or e-axle. The motor, power electronics, and transmission form one compact unit that directly drives the car’s axle. This makes the powertrain not only far more efficient, but more affordable as well.

Bosch has had electric axle drives in the market since 2012 (in the Peugeot 3008 and Fiat 500e, for example), but the power electronics was not fully integrated into them. With the new generation of the electric axle, Bosch is in the development phase, and is in contact with automakers from around the world. More precisely, samples of the electric axle are ready for use, and are currently being tested. Start of production is planned for 2019 at the latest.

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ARPA-E awards $30M to 21 projects advance new class of high-performance power converters

August 23, 2017

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) announced $30 million in funding for 21 innovative projects as part of the Creating Innovative and Reliable Circuits Using Inventive Topologies and Semiconductors (CIRCUITS) program. CIRCUITS project teams will accelerate the development and deployment of a new class of efficient, lightweight, and reliable power converters, based on wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductors. (Earlier post.)

CIRCUITS projects will establish the building blocks of this class of power converter by advancing higher efficiency designs that exhibit enhanced reliability and superior total cost of ownership. In addition, a reduced form factor (size and weight) will drive adoption of higher performance and more efficient power converters relative to today’s state-of-the-art systems.

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Hyundai Mobis develops on-board bi-directional charger for V2G applications

August 16, 2017

Hyundai Mobis has developed an on-board, bi-directional charger for plug-in vehicles. The bi-directional onboard charger (OBC) allows the vehicle to supply electricity in its battery to the grid.

The power supplied by the vehicle can also be used as emergency power in homes. If more than enough power is supplied, it is possible to prevent a large power outage. In Korea, the amount of industrial damage caused by power outages is estimated to be 650 billion won (US$570 million) per year.

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BMW i Ventures makes strategic investment in GaN Systems; next-gen power electronics

July 18, 2017

BMW i Ventures has made a strategic investment in GaN Systems, a fabless power transistor company at the forefront of semiconductor technology. Gallium Nitride (GaN) is a wide band gap (WBG) semiconductor material that allows for higher energy efficiency, smaller form factors and higher performance.

GaN devices offer a number of benefits compared to silicon-based devices, including high dielectric strength; high current density; high switching speeds; low on-resistance; and the ability to withstand higher operating temperature. Compared to silicon, gallium nitride has ten times higher electrical breakdown characteristics, three times the band gap, and exceptional carrier mobility.

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Fraunhofer IAF develops first monolithically integrated GaN half bridge for voltage converters for e-mobility

May 11, 2017

Half-bridge circuits are the centerpiece of many voltage converters. Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF has now produced and demonstrated the world’s first monolithically integrated GaN half bridge for the important 600 volt class. In power electronics components, this is the standard volt class for grid-connected electrical devices, ranging from tablets and washing machines to e-bikes and electric cars.

Monolithic integration combines several components on a single GaN chip, enabling extremely small, powerful systems to be created. Besides being very compact, monolithically integrated half-bridge circuits have significantly better electronic properties. For example, the switching frequency can be improved by a factor of around 10 in comparison with conventional voltage converters.

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Renesas introduces small, 100kW-class inverter solution for HEVs and EVs

April 10, 2017

Renesas Electronics Corporation announced its new 100kW-class inverter solution that achieves industry-leading small volume of 3.9 liter (L) for high-power 100kW-class motors in mid- to large-sized hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) including SUVs, and mid- to small-sized electric vehicles (EVs).

Renesas will provide a solution kit including software that maximizes the HEV/EV motor performance and hardware components such as microcontrollers (MCUs), Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) and fast recovery diode (FRD), and other power semiconductor devices.

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Mitsubishi Electric develops world’s smallest SiC inverter for HEVs; reduced losses, improved fuel efficiency

March 09, 2017

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has developed a working model of an ultra-compact silicon carbide (SiC) inverter for hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) that is believed to be the world’s smallest SiC device of its type at just five liters volume.

It also is believed to offer the world’s highest power density of 86 kVA / L for two-motor HEVs, thanks to incorporation of full-SiC power semiconductor modules that achieve superior heat dissipation.

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Finnish electric powertrain company Visedo raises €20M to support global expansion; SRPM technology

December 22, 2016

Visedo, a Finnish manufacturer specializing in electric powertrains and components, has secured a financing package of €20 million (US$21 million) to support its international growth plans. The financing consists of an equity investment of €13.5 million, an EFSI loan of €5 million and €1.5 million in funding from other sources.

Founded in 2009, Visedo specializes in electric powertrains and components for heavy-duty machinery, commercial vehicles and the marine industry. Its powertrains are suitable for hybrid and electric systems within the power range of 30 kW to 2,000 kW. Visedo’s head office is located in Lappeenranta, Finland, and the company has a subsidiary in the Netherlands. Visedo has a broad, international client base, with exports to Europe and Asia representing 90% of its sales.

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Schaeffler acquires motor manufacturer Compact Dynamics; power electronics agreement with SEMIKRON

December 20, 2016

Automotive and industrial supplier Schaeffler finalized a purchase contract with SEMIKRON International GmbH for the acquisition of 51% of the shares of Compact Dynamics GmbH, a manufacturer of high-performance electric motors.

At the same time, Schaeffler and SEMIKRON have agreed a cooperation for the development of power electronics systems and the integration of power electronics components. With this acquisition and cooperation, Schaeffler is expanding its expertise in electric motors and power electronics for the development and production of electric drives.

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Wolfspeed wins 2016 R&D 100 Award for wide bandgap underhood inverter for HEVs/EVs

November 11, 2016

Wolfspeed, A Cree Company, a leading global supplier of silicon carbide (SiC) power products, won a 2016 R&D 100 Award for its high-temperature, wide-bandgap (WBG) underhood inverter for hybrid and electric vehicles.

Wolfspeed’s high-temperature, WBG underhood inverter was developed in response to the need for smaller, lighter, and more efficient systems with higher power density in the electric vehicle market, and in collaboration with the Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA); the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL); the University of Arkansas National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission; and the Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO).

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ARPA-E launches PNDIODES program to boost power electronics work

October 28, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) has launched a new program—Power Nitride Doping Innovation Offers Devices Enabling SWITCHES (PNDIODES) (DE-FOA-0001691)—to fund transformational advances and mechanistic understanding in the process of selective area doping in the III-Nitride wide band gap (WBG) semiconductor material system.

PNDIODES, with $6.5 million in funding, seeks demonstrations of arbitrarily placed, reliable, contactable, and generally useable p-n junction regions that enable high-performance and reliable vertical power electronic semiconductor devices. The microscopic mechanistic understanding and transformational technologies resulting from successful projects in the program would address the major obstacle in the fabrication of vertical GaN power electronic devices experienced by most of the teams in the ARPA-E SWITCHES (Strategies for Wide Bandgap, Inexpensive Transistors for Controlling High-Efficiency Systems) program.

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Wolfspeed delivers industry’s first 1000V SiC MOSFET for efficient EV fast chargers

October 06, 2016

Wolfspeed, a Cree Company and a leader in silicon carbide (SiC) power products, has introduced a 1000V MOSFET (metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor) that enables a reduction in overall system cost, while improving system efficiency and decreasing system size. The new MOSFET, specially optimized for fast charging and industrial power supplies, enables a 30% reduction in component count while achieving more than 3x increase in power density and a 33% increase in output power.

Designers can reduce component count by moving from silicon-based, three-level topologies to simpler two-level topologies made possible by the 1000 Vds rating of the SiC MOSFET. The increase in output power in a reduced footprint is realized by the ultra-low output capacitance—as low as 60pF—which significantly lowers switching losses.

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NC State team develops new SiC inverter; 12.1 kW/L & greater efficiency in a smaller, lighter package

September 15, 2016

Researchers at the Future Renewable Electric Energy Distribution and Management (FREEDM) Systems Center at North Carolina State University have developed an inverter for hybrid and electric vehicles using off-the-shelf components made of the wide-bandgap semiconductor material silicon carbide (SiC).

The new SiC-based inverter has a power density of 12.1 kW/L—close to the US Department of Energy’s target of 13.4 kW/L by 2020. By way of comparison, a 2010 electric vehicle could achieve only 4.1 kW/L. Further, says Iqbal Husain, ABB Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NC State and director of the FREEDM Center, the silicon carbide prototype inverter can transfer 99% of energy to the motor—about two percent higher than the best silicon-based inverters under normal conditions.

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