Bi-Directional Power Design from 200 W to 20 kW and 10 V to over 700 V

August 23, 2016
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In the final part of the interview series with Harry Vig about the Enabling Bi-Directional Energy Flow Using DC Power Transformers webinar, he discusses the wide range of power and voltage levels that are supported by Vicor’s bi-directional power components.

Is there a particular range of output powers where bi-directional power systems are most applicable?

Our products start at 300W at the low end, and the higher-power components can be paralleled. So we can definitely offer competitive solutions for systems from 200 W to 20 kW. In fact, the advantages of bi-directional power flow are so great, it probably makes sense to consider using our power components at even higher levels.

Is it complicated to parallel these components to support the higher power levels?

Harry Vig VicorThese components are designed to be paralleled. There are only a couple of simple requirements: you need to use exactly the same type of module, and the impedance to all components should be the same – so you don’t want to use a daisy chain wire as the component located at the end of the wire has higher distribution resistance.

The thermal design is also really important. All the components being paralleled should be mounted to one thermal plane to ensure they stay at the same temperature. The components have negative temperature coefficients, which is used to ensure the load is shared equally between the devices: the output power of any array is limited by when the first component hits over-temperature and shuts down.

The requirement for consistent temperature means that high-power designs often use water cooling as it’s very efficient. The worst thing you can do is use independent heatsinks or no heatsinks.

For very large strings, you also need to think about the MTBF: the reliability is obviously reduced as the number of components used increased. In fact, this is probably the limiting factor in the maximum practical output power.

What is the highest voltage levels that can be supported by these power components at present?

Our highest voltage component is a 410 V product that was designed specifically for the 380 V standard. You can configure BCMs in series: the safest way to do this is to use a split supply, which gives you +/- 380 V, or a 760 V rail. You’ll also need protection diodes.

We go all the way down to 10.8 V, which is boosted to 48 V, so we cover a very wide set of requirements.

 

To find out more, watch the webinar, which is available as an on-demand rebroadcast.

 

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