High Output Power Density Inverters Use SiC FETs

Nov. 30, 2011
SemiSouth Laboratories, Inc. announced that its silicon carbide JFETs are being used in small 0.5 litre inverters to achieve an output power density of 30kWh/l.

SemiSouth Laboratories, Inc. announced that its silicon carbide JFETs are being used in small 0.5 litre inverters to achieve an output power density of 30kWh/l. If inverters of this size and capacity are used with PV panels, one inverter could supply enough electricity for up to five households, it is claimed.

A team at the Japanese academia and industry R&D Partnership for Future Power Electronics Technology (FUPET), consisting of participants from Fuji Electric, Nissan Motor, Sanken Electric and Toshiba, aims to deliver power converters that operate at high temperature with high output power density. Using SiC JFETs from SemiSouth Laboratories, the team developed a three-phase 500cc inverter that delivers 15kW output power when connected to a three-phase motor with a conversion efficiency of 99%. Featuring a compact, optimized cooling system, the power modules can operate at up to 200degC.

"We believe this is the world's highest output power density for a small-volume inverter," said Satoshi Tanimoto, chief researcher at FUPET's R&D Center. "SemiSouth’s JFETs have been instrumental in helping us maximize efficiency and power density."

SemiSouth’s JFETs are compatible with standard gate driver ICs, and feature a positive temperature coefficient for ease of paralleling; extremely fast switching with no ‘tail’ current at up to a maximum operating temperature of 150degC and a low RDS(on)max. Devices are available in TO-247 packaging and in some cases they are also available in die form for integration into modules. Commented Jeff Casady, President and CTO: "The FUPET team achieved these results at 50 kHz which is their minimum frequency target, and the module also has a very low inductance module with only 5 nH. It is exciting to see the results that can be achieved using our technology." The FUPET team aims to achieve an inverter with 40kW/l output power density next year.
SemiSouth, a privately owned corporation with its main offices and foundry in Starkville, Mississippi focuses on silicon carbide (SiC) power devices and electronics, targeting applications such as: solar inverters; power conversion in computing and network power supplies; variable-speed drives for industrial motors and hybrid electric vehicles; and products used in high-power, harsh-environment military and aerospace environments.

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