Protection, Control, and Auxiliary Power of Medium-Voltage High-Frequency SiC Devices
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Due to the superior characteristics compared to its silicon (Si) counterpart, the wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductor enables next-generation power electronics systems with higher efficiency and higher power density. With higher blocking voltage available, WBG devices, especially the silicon carbide (SiC) metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET), have been widely explored in various medium-voltage (MV) applications in both industry and academia. However, due to the high di/dt and high dv/dt during the switching transient, potential overcurrent, overvoltage, and gate failure can greatly reduce the reliability of implementing SiC MOSFETs in an MV system. By utilizing the parasitic inductance between the Kelvin- and the power-source terminal, a short-circuit (SC) and overload (OL) dual-protection scheme is proposed for overcurrent protection. A full design procedure and reliability analysis are given for SC circuit design. A novel OL circuit is proposed to protect OL faults at the gate-driver level. The protection procedure can detect an SC fault within 50 nanoseconds and protect the device within 1.1 microsecond. The proposed method is a simple and effective solution for the potential overcurrent problem of the SiC MOSFET. For SiC MOSFETs in series-connection, the unbalanced voltages can result in system failure due to device breakdown or unbalanced thermal stresses. By injecting current during the turn-off transient, an active dv/dt control method is used for voltage balancing. A 6 kV phase-leg using eight 1.7 kV SiC MOSFETs in series-connection has been tested with voltage balanced accurately. Modeling of the stacked SiC MOSFET with active dv/dt control is also done to summarize the design methodology for an effective and stable system. This method provides a low-loss and compact solution for overvoltage problems when MV SiC MOSFETs are connected in series. Furthermore, a scalable auxiliary power network is proposed to prevent gate failure caused by unstable gate voltage or EMI interference. The two-stage auxiliary power network (APN) architecture includes a wireless power transfer (WPT) converter supplied by a grounded low voltage dc bus, a high step-down-ratio (HSD) converter powered from dc-link capacitors, and a battery-based mini-UPS backup power supply. The auxiliary-power-only pre-charge and discharge circuits are also designed for a 6 kV power electronics building block (PEBB). The proposed architecture provides a general solution of a scalable and reliable auxiliary power network for the SiC-MOSFET-based MV converter. For the WPT converter, a multi-objective optimization on efficiency, EMI mitigation, and high voltage insulation capability have been proposed. Specifically, a series-series-CL topology is proposed for the WPT converter. With the optimization and new topology, a 120 W, 48 V to 48 V WPT converter has been tested to be a reliable part of the auxiliary power network. For the HSD converter, a novel unidirectional voltage-balancing circuit is proposed and connected in an interleaved manner, which provides a fully modular and scalable solution. A ``linear regulator + buck" solution is proposed to be an integrated on-board auxiliary power supply. A 6 kV to 45 V, 100 W converter prototype is built and tested to be another critical part of the auxiliary power network.
General Audience Abstract
The wide bandgap semiconductor enables next-generation power electronics systems with higher efficiency and higher power density which will reduce the space, weight, and cost for power supply and conversion systems, especially for renewable energy. However, by pushing the system voltage level higher to medium-voltage of tens of kilovolts, although the system has higher efficiency and simpler control, the reliability drops. This dissertation, therefore, focusing on solving the possible overcurrent, overvoltage, and gate failure issues of the power electronics system that is caused by the high voltage and high electromagnetic interference environment. By utilizing the inductance of the device, a dual-protection method is proposed to prevent the overcurrent problem. The overcurrent fault can be detected within tens of nanoseconds so that the device will not be destroyed because of the huge fault current. When multiple devices are connected in series to hold higher voltage, the voltage sharing between different devices becomes another issue. The proposed modeling and control method for series-connected devices can balance the shared voltage, and make the control system stable so that no overvoltage problem will happen due to the non-evenly distributed voltages. Besides the possible overcurrent and overvoltage problems, losing control of the devices due to the unreliable auxiliary power supply is another issue. This dissertation proposed a scalable auxiliary power network with high efficiency, high immunity to electromagnetic interference, and high reliability. In this network, a wireless power transfer converter is designed to provide enough insulation and isolation capability, while a switched capacitor converter is designed to transfer voltage from several kilovolts to tens of volts. With the proposed overcurrent protection method, voltage sharing control, and reliable auxiliary power network, systems utilizing medium-voltage wide-bandgap semiconductor will have higher reliability to be implemented for different applications.
- Doctoral Dissertations