Design of a Resonant Snubber Inverter for Photovoltaic Inverter Systems

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Virginia Tech

With the rise in demand for renewable energy sources, photovoltaics have become increasingly popular as a means of reducing household dependence on the utility grid for power. But solar panels generate dc electricity, a dc to ac inverter is required to allow the energy to be used by the existing ac electrical distribution. Traditional full bridge inverters are able to accomplish this, but they suffer from many problems such as low efficiency, large size, high cost, and generation of electrical noise, especially common mode noise. Efforts to solve these issues have resulted in improved solutions, but they do not eliminate all of the problems and even exaggerate some of them.

Soft switching inverters are able to achieve high efficiency by eliminating the switching losses of the power stage switches. Since this action requires additional components that are large and have additional losses associated with them, these topologies have traditionally been limited to higher power levels. The resonant snubber inverter is a soft switching topology that eliminates many of these problems by taking advantage of the bipolar switching action of the power stage switches. This allows for a significant size reduction in the additional parts and elimination of common mode noise, making it an ideal candidate for lower power levels. Previous attempts to implement the resonant snubber inverter have been hampered by low efficiency due to parasitics of the silicon devices used, but, with recent developments in new semiconductor technologies such as silicon carbide and gallium nitride, these problems can be minimized and possibly eliminated.

The goal of this thesis is to design and experimentally verify a design of a resonant snubber inverter that takes advantage of new semiconductor materials to improve efficiency while maintaining minimal additional, parts, simple control, and elimination of common mode noise. A 600 W prototype is built. The performance improvements over previous designs are verified and compared to alternative high efficiency solutions along with a novel control technique for the auxiliary resonant snubber. A standalone and grid tie controller are developed to verify that the auxiliary resonant snubber and new auxiliary control technique does not complicate the closed loop control.

Inverter, dc/ac, Soft Switching, Resonant Snubber Inverter, RSI