High-Efficiency and High-Power Density DC-DC Power Conversion Using Wide Bandgap Devices for Modular Photovoltaic Applications
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With the development of solar energy, power conversion systems responsible for energy delivering from photovoltaic (PV) modules to ac or dc grid attract wide attentions and have significantly increased installations worldwide. Modular power conversion system has the highest efficiency of maximum power point tacking (MPPT), which can transfer more solar power to electricity. However, this system suffers the drawbacks of low power conversion efficiency and high cost due to a large number of power electronics converters. High-power density can provide potentials to reduce cost through the reduction of components and potting materials. Nowadays, the power electronics converters with the conventional silicon (Si) based power semiconductor devices are developed maturely and have limited improvements regarding in power conversion efficiency and power density. With the availability of wide bandgap devices, the power electronics converters have extended opportunities to achieve higher efficiency and higher power density due to the desirable features of wide bandgap devices, such as low on-state resistance, small junction capacitance and high switching speed. This dissertation focuses on the application of wide bandgap devices to the dc-dc power conversion for the modular PV applications in an effort to improve the power conversion efficiency and power density. Firstly, the structure of gallium-nitride (GaN) device is studied theoretically and characteristics of GaN device are evaluated under testing with both hard-switching and soft-switching conditions. The device performance during steady-state and transitions are explored under different power level conditions and compared with Si based devices. Secondly, an isolated high-efficiency GaN-based dc-dc converter with capability of wide range regulation is proposed for modular PV applications. The circuit configuration of secondary side is a proposed active-boost-rectifier, which merges a Boost circuit and a voltage-doubler rectifier. With implementation of the proposed double-pulse duty cycle modulation method, the active-boost-rectifier can not only serve for synchronous rectification but also achieve the voltage boost function. The proposed converter can achieve zero-voltage-switching (ZVS) of primary side switches and zero-current-switching (ZCS) of secondary side switches regardless of the input voltages or output power levels. Therefore, the proposed converter not only keeps the benefits of highly-efficient series resonant converter (SRC) but also achieves a higher voltage gain than SRC and a wide range regulation ability without adding additional switches while operating under the fixed-frequency condition. GaN devices are utilized in both primary and secondary sides. A 300-W hardware prototype is built to achieve a peak efficiency of 98.9% and a California Energy Commission (CEC) weighted efficiency of 98.7% under nominal input voltage condition. Finally, the proposed converter is designed and optimized at 1-MHz switching frequency to pursue the feature of high-power density. Considering the ac effects under high frequency, the magnetic components and PCB structure are optimized with finite element method (FEM) simulations. Compared with 140-kHz design, the volume of 1-MHz design can reduce more than 70%, while the CEC efficiency only drops 0.8% at nominal input voltage condition. There are also key findings on circuit design techniques to reduce parasitic effects. The parasitic inductances induced from PCB layout of primary side circuit can cause the unbalanced resonant current between positive and negative half cycles if the power loops of two half cycles have asymmetrical parasitic inductances. Moreover, these parasitic inductances reflecting to secondary side should be considered into the design of resonant inductance. The parasitic capacitances of secondary side could affect ZVS transitions and increase the required magnetizing current. Because of large parasitic capacitances, the dead-time period occupies a large percentage of entire switching period in MHz operations, which should be taken into consideration when designing the resonant frequency of resonant network.
- Doctoral Dissertations 
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