Analysis and Design of High-Intensity-Discharge Lamp Ballast for Automotive Headlamp

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Virginia Tech

The High-Intensity-Discharge Lamps (HID), consisting of a broad range of gas discharge lamps, are notable for their high luminous efficacy, good color rendering, and long life. Metal halide lamps have the best combination of the above properties and are considered the most ideal light sources. Recently, there has been an emerging demand to replace the conventional halogen headlamps with the newly introduced small-wattage metal halide HID lamps. However, this lamp demands a highly efficient ballast and very complex control circuitry that can achieve fast turn-on and different regulation modes during the lamp start-up process.

Due to the complex lamp v-i profile and timing control requirements, control circuit built with conventional analog control is unavoidably cumbersome. With the unparalleled flexibility and programmability, digital control shows more advantages in this application. An automotive HID ballast with digital controller is developed to demonstrate the feasibility of the digital control along with some key issues in digital controller selection and design. Results show that the microcontroller-based HID ballast can successfully realize the required control functions and achieve a smooth turn-on process and a fast turn-on time of 8 seconds.

One of the major issues of ballast design is the ballast/HID lamp system stability, which originates from the lamp negative incremental impedance. The lamp small-signal model is presented with simulation and measurements. The negative incremental impedance is attributed to a RHP zero in the small-signal model. A new analysis approach, impedance ratio criterion, is proposed to analyze the system stability. With this approach, it clearly shows how the control configurations and converter and control design affect the system stability. The results can provide guidance and be easily used in control configuration selection and converter and control design. Analysis shows that ballast based on PWM converter without inner current loop is unstable and with inner current loop can stabilized the system. This is the reason why for a microcontroller-based ballast system the inner current loop has to be used.

HID lamp has its special acoustic resonance problem and thus a low-frequency unregulated full-bridge is used following the front-end DC/DC converter. To prevent from lamp re-igniting during each bridge commutation, a minimum current changing slope has to be guaranteed. In order to help design the converter, the ballast/lamp re-ignition analysis is presented. With this analysis, it shows that the output capacitance has to be small enough to ensure adequate current slope during zero crossing. Though some approximation is used to simplify the analysis, the results can provide qualitative guidance in the ballast design.

HID Lamp, Ballast, Small-Signal Model