AI solves soft-switching control challenge for three phase converters

March 21, 2019 //By Nick Flaherty
AI solves soft-switching control challenge for three phase converters
A Silicon Valley start-up has expanded its AI-based soft-switching IGBT and silicon carbide gate driver architecture to cover three phase power systems.

The platform from Pre-Switch includes the Pre-Drive3 controller board, powered by the Pre-Flex FPGA, and RPG gate driver board, enables a doubling of power output for a typical inverter, or an increase in switching speed by a factor of up to 20 times.

Hard-Switching is the most commonly-used technique for DC/AC power converters but it has numerous drawbacks, the largest of which is the introduction of switching losses - wasted energy produced while a transistor fully transitions between On and Off states. These switching losses are responsible for a large percentage of power converter losses. In contrast, soft-switching minimizes switching losses but is has never been successfully-implemented for DC-AC systems with varying input voltage, temperature and load conditions. Pre-Switch uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to constantly adjust the relative timing of elements within the switching system required to force a resonance to offset the current and voltage wave forms to minimise switching losses. 

Pre-Switch’s forced-resonant soft-switching topology replaces the traditional IGBT or silicon carbide driver with a common intelligent controller board, Pre-Drive3, and a specific plug-in RPG (Resonant Power Gate) module optimized for the customer’s chosen SiC or IGBT package. The Pre-Switch architecture delivers the same switching loss performance – or better – as a five-level design, but significantly reduces cost, control complexity and BOM count. 

“Customers have called Pre-Switch’s soft-switching technology ‘the Holy Grail’ for power conversion," said Bruce Renouard, CEO of Pre-Switch (above). EV designers have been amongst the first to adopt this exciting technology because it dramatically-reduces iron core loses in electric motors at cruising torques, providing 5-12 % more range. However, our soft-switching technology is also applicable to a wide range of industries, and is independent of device technology.”

The Pre-Switch AI-based soft-switching power architectures are used in electric vehicles, solar inverters, wind turbines, UPS, storage and motor drives. 

www.pre-switch.com


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