Cheaper, faster hybrid vehicles thanks to new class of power inverter with 'infinite-level voltages'

Oct 22, 2012

(Phys.org)—With a laboratory breakthrough once thought impossible, an Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis assistant professor has invented a new class of power inverter that could put cheaper and more efficient renewable energy products on the market.

Professor Afshin Izadian, a researcher at the Richard G. Lugar Center for Renewable Energy at IUPUI, has invented a power inverter that employs just a single switching transistor and generates infinite-level voltages.

Power inverters are at the heart of several . Solar power, , electric vehicles, motor drives and manufacturing robots all use inverters to generate AC power efficiently.

However, the current inverters with multiple switching transistors generate limited levels, are heavy, generate unwanted harmonics (voltage frequencies) and require filters to reduce the harmful effects to the electric grid.

Izadian's invention, the result of a creative reconfiguration of an electrical circuit during a laboratory experiment, would make inverters cheaper, lighter and therefore more efficient than current models.

"The thrilling moment of any research is when your thoughts, designs and implementations come out right and you reach the goal," Izadian said. "An on-demand change of voltage polarity might not seem very exciting, but it becomes increasingly important if you can accomplish it while maintaining desired voltage amplitudes."

Izadian, who has a doctorate in electrical engineering and is a former postdoctoral researcher from UCLA, teaches in the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at IUPUI. While studying how voltage levels and polarities are created in inverters, he made his discovery. In a creative moment at his lab bench, he began reconfiguring an inverter circuit and discovered a new property technique to create infinite voltage levels and invert the voltage polarity of . This discovery in turn leads to a corollary insight that the researcher employed to create the new class of inverters.

Not only did the bench test work, it lead to the discovery of several other circuits and controllers for high-power inverters with lower switching loss, higher voltage performance and lighter reconfigured circuits.

For example, unwanted harmonics are greatly reduced with Izadian's invention. This means car manufacturers can reduce the size and insulation of traction motors so that electric vehicles can be made cheaper. The size and weight of the power electronics can also be reduced, which can boost fuel economy in hybrid cars and buses. Such advantages translate into wider adoption of green technologies and more affordable renewable energy for homes, vehicles and businesses.

"The Lugar Center is a tremendous asset to the school's creative and innovative research process," said David J. Russomanno, dean of the School of Engineering and Technology. "We are delighted with Dr. Izadian's work and the possibility that his inverter can impact the renewable energy market. His efforts are a quintessential example of the cutting-edge research that enhances the school's image and reputation and allows us to compete in the arena."

Izadian's work is under review by a prestigious technical journal, and several large companies have shown interest in the new inverters. They are interested in how Izadian's breakthrough can result in simpler, cheaper and smaller systems with better performance than today's technology.

Izadian has several patents pending on his invention and is seeking research funding to complete the development of the analysis and controls needed for commercial viability. Products could be ready for the marketplace in as little as three years.

Explore further: Desktop device to make key gun part goes on sale in US

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Silicon carbide solutions to solar challenges revealed

Sep 11, 2012

STMicroelectronics is revealing innovations in silicon carbide devices at Solar Power International (SPI) 2012 that enable systems producers to build ultra-efficient electronics for converting raw solar energy ...

Innovation is step toward digital graphene transistors

Sep 06, 2011

Researchers are making progress in creating digital transistors using a material called graphene, potentially sidestepping an obstacle thought to dramatically limit the material's use in computers and consumer ...

Solar inverters: Losses are cut in half

May 26, 2011

A switching trick makes it possible to cut the losses of a series-production inverter in half and increase the efficiency from 96 to 98 percent. The HERIC-topology makes it possible to achieve a world-record ...

A better way to connect solar, wind to the grid

Aug 01, 2011

The sun makes sidewalks hot enough to fry eggs, the wind blows hard enough to tear fences, but if solar and wind energy can't be converted to the 60-hertz alternating current (AC) standard in the United States, ...

Recommended for you

Desktop device to make key gun part goes on sale in US

9 hours ago

The creator of the world's first 3D plastic handgun unveiled Wednesday his latest invention: a pre-programmed milling machine that enables anyone to easily make the core component of a semi-automatic rifle.

Minimally invasive surgery with hydraulic assistance

15 hours ago

Endoscopic surgery requires great manual dexterity on the part of the operating surgeon. Future endoscopic instruments equipped with a hydraulic control system will provide added support during minimally ...

Analyzing gold and steel – rapidly and precisely

16 hours ago

Optical emission spectrometers are widely used in the steel industry but the instruments currently employed are relatively large and bulky. A novel sensor makes it possible to significantly reduce their size ...

More efficient transformer materials

17 hours ago

Almost every electronic device contains a transformer. An important material used in their construction is electrical steel. Researchers have found a way to improve the performance of electrical steel and ...

Sensor network tracks down illegal bomb-making

17 hours ago

Terrorists can manufacture bombs with relative ease, few aids and easily accessible materials such as synthetic fertilizer. Not always do security forces succeed in preventing the attacks and tracking down ...

Miniature camera may reduce accidents

17 hours ago

Measuring only a few cubic millimeters, a new type of camera module might soon be integrated into future driver assistance systems to help car drivers facing critical situations. The little gadget can be ...

User comments : 0