Hybrid Modular Multilevel Converter Family and Modular DC Circuit Breaker for Medium-voltage DC (MVDC) Applications
With the increasing maturity and flexibility of power electronics-based voltage conversion techniques, DC grids, and distribution systems have gained significant interest. These systems offer advantages such as improved power quality, efficiency, and flexibility. Medium-voltage DC (MVDC) applications, including shipboard, railway systems, distribution networks, and microgrids, are emerging as critical areas of interest. To integrate MVDC systems with existing power grids, MV AC/DC conversion techniques are crucial. Moreover, the lack of mature protection strategies and equipment, particularly DC circuit breakers (DCCB), poses a significant challenge to the development of MVDC systems. Therefore, this thesis aims to address two primary challenges in the field: the improved topologies of MV AC/DC conversion techniques for interfacing MVDC systems with power grids and the development of high power density DCCB for MVDC systems.
The traditional modular multilevel converter (MMC) is widely used for medium voltage (MV) AC/DC conversion due to its modularity, scalability, and reliability. However, the presence of numerous semiconductor devices and capacitors in MMCs results in challenges such as low power efficiency and density. To enhance the performance of MMCs, this thesis proposes several novel hybrid MMC (HMMC) topologies, including the three-level HMMC, flying capacitor HMMC, and hybrid-leg MMC. These topologies aim to leverage the advantages of both conventional multilevel converters and MMCs. By replacing the low-voltage (LV) submodule (SM) in MMCs with a simple high-voltage (HV) switch, higher efficiency, a smaller footprint, and lower cost can be achieved. The HV switch operates at line frequency, simplifying device-switching and addressing the challenges of series-connected devices. The introduction of additional HV switches enables alternative connections compared to traditional MMCs, reducing the number of required SMs. Consequently, there is a significant reduction in the number of semiconductor devices, capacitor energy storage, and power losses. Furthermore, an average model is developed for the three-level HMMC to illustrate the additional power flow path between the AC and DC sides, as well as the reduced SM capacitor energy storage requirement. As a result, the proposed HMMCs exhibit substantial potential to replace traditional MMCs, offering higher efficiency and power density.
Unidirectional high-voltage (HV) and medium-voltage (MV) rectifiers are essential for applications where power flows exclusively from the AC to the DC side. Examples of such applications include HVDC transmission, front-end converters for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, and data centers. Therefore, hybrid modular multilevel rectifiers (HMMRs) are proposed for these unidirectional AC/DC applications. Instead of utilizing active devices for HV switches, the HMMR employs HV diode to achieve step-up HMMR, step-down HMMR, and flying capacitor HMMR configurations. As diodes are passive devices that do not require gate driver units, the HMMR design becomes simpler, resulting in cost and volume savings. Additionally, voltage sharing among the HV diode stack becomes more manageable as concerns regarding gate signal mismatch are eliminated. However, it is important to note that diodes lack current interruption capability. This limitation requires further investigation, particularly in non-unity power factor (PF) operations, which may impose restrictions on the operational range of the rectifiers.
In terms of medium voltage (MV) DC circuit breakers (DCCB), this paper introduces the concept and design procedure of a high-power-density, modular, and scalable power electronic interrupter (PEI) for MV hybrid circuit breakers (HCB). The analysis includes trade-offs and limiting factors of various components within a single PEI module. A prototype of a 12 kV, 1 kA breaking-capable PEI is constructed, and new staged turn-off strategies are proposed to ensure the balanced distribution of metal-oxide varistor (MOV) energy. The developed PEI achieves a peak power density of 7.4 kW/cm
For series-connected devices in SSCB or HCB configurations, the conventional gate driver structure necessitates an individual gate driver unit, fiber-optic, and isolated power supplies for each device. This design increases cost and volume, particularly for this single-pulse application. To address this issue, two new single gate driver structures are proposed to reduce component count and system complexity. The first solution, namely the MOV-coupled structure, employs a metal-oxide varistor (MOV) for the turn-off path. On the other hand, the transformer-coupled structure combines the auxiliary power and gate signal, enabling both simultaneous and staged turn-off schemes. Moreover, the cascaded high- and lower-voltage transformer structure simplifies insulation design and demonstrates improved scalability. These proposed gate driver structures aim to streamline the system, reduce component numbers, and simplify control for series-connected devices, leading to cost savings and improved overall performance.