Whiteboard of the Week – Power Chain for Civil Ship

November 3, 2014

Our Whiteboard Power Chain of the Week series recently featured a power system for a civil ship that was designed by one of our technical sales engineers, Alexander Mezin. We asked him to give us a little more information about this interesting concept design.


Alexander MezinCan you tell us why you put together this power chain?

I developed this power system to show some of the approaches that customers were taking when developing naval power systems. The Vicor PowerBench Whiteboard tool is great for doing this: it only takes a couple of minutes to put together a power chain that can be analyzed and discussed with customers as well as with our internal applications team.


What are the main constraints in this type of application?

As with almost all modern power designs, efficiency is key. Minimizing wasted energy is the most common challenge we face. In this case, however, we also needed to minimize size and weight: in transportation applications, weight reduction has a direct impact on overall efficiency as dragging unnecessary mass increases fuel consumption.


The main components of the power chain are VI Chips. Why are they a good solution for this type of application?

whiteboard of the week - civil ship power chain

The Power Chain (click to enlarge)

This power chain uses BCMs, PRMs and VTMs as well as a Picor Cool-Power ZVS Buck Regulator. The VI Chip components, and the Picor regulator, are all high power density components with little weight relative to their output power. The VI Chip package in particular, offers a very low profile when compared with other approaches to delivering the same power.

I used the PRMs and VTMs in a Factorized Power Architecture (FPA) configuration. This separates the regulation and voltage transformation functions, allowing the VTMs to be placed at the point of load, eliminating the need for thick high-current conductors to take power to the load.


Were there any other considerations?

Reliability is important, so the high efficiency of around 86% allows for conduction cooling. Forced-air cooling would not be an ideal approach: if the fan fails whilst at sea, getting a replacement is far from easy!


HVDC is a relatively new approach to power distribution in this application. How easy was it to develop a power chain with a 380 V input?

I’ve not encountered any significant problems. With modern components like the BCM, converting from 380 V is much easier than it was a few years ago!


Click here to view Alexander’s design on the PowerBench Whiteboard tool.

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