Loosely Coupled Transformer and Tuning Network Design for High-Efficiency Inductive Power Transfer Systems


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Virginia Tech


Transfer signal without wire has been widely accepted after the introduction of cellular technology and WiFi technology, hence the power cable is the last wire that has yet to be eliminated. Inductive power transfer (IPT) has drawn substantial interest in both academia and industry due to its advantages including convenience, nonexistence of cable and connector, no electric shock issue, ability to work under some extreme environment, and so on. After performing thorough literature review of IPT systems, two major drawbacks including low power efficiency and coil displacement sensitivity are identified as the main obstacles that have to be solved in order for these systems to reach full functionality and compete with existing wired solutions.

To address the limitations and design challenges in the IPT systems, a detailed electric circuit modeling of individual part of the IPT DC-DC stage is performed. Several resonant DC-AC inverters and output AC-DC rectifiers are compared based on their performance and feasibility in inductive charging applications. Different equivalent circuit models for the loosely coupled transformer (LCT) are derived which allows for better understanding on how power is distributed among the circuit components. Five compensation networks to improve the power transfer efficiency are evaluated and their suitable application occasions are identified.

With comprehensive circuit model analysis, the influence of the resonant compensation tank parameters has been investigated carefully for efficient power transfer. A novel tuning network parameters design methodology is proposed based on multiple given requirement such as battery charging profile, geometry constraints and operating frequency range, with the aim of avoiding bifurcation phenomenon during the whole charging process and achieving decent efficiency. A 4-kW hardware prototype based on the proposed design approach is built and tested under different gap and load conditions. Peak IPT system DC-DC efficiencies of 98% and 96.6% are achieved with 4-cm and 8-cm air gap conditions, which is comparable to the conventional plug-in type or wired charging systems for EVs. A long-hour test with real EV batteries is conducted to verify the wireless signal transmission and CC/CV mode seamless transition during the whole charging profile without bifurcation.

To reduce the IPT system sensitivity to the gap variation or misalignment, a novel LCT design approach without additional complexity for the system is proposed. With the aid of FEA simulation software, the influence of coil relative position and geometry parameters on the flux distribution and coupling coefficient of the transmitter and receiver is studied from an electromagnetic perspective. An asymmetrical LCT based on the proposed design method is built to compare with a traditional symmetrical LCT. With fixed 10-mm gap and 0 to 40-mm misalignment variation, the coupling coefficient for the symmetrical LCT drops from 0.354 to 0.107, and the corresponding efficiency decrease is 16.6%. The operating frequency variation is nearly 100 kHz to maintain same input/output condition. When employing the proposed asymmetrical LCT, the coupling coefficient changes between 0.312 and 0.273, and the maximum efficiency deviation is kept within 0.67% over the entire 40-mm misalignment range. Moreover, the required frequency range to achieve same operation condition is less than 10 kHz.

Lastly, some design considerations to further improve the IPT system efficiency are proposed on the basis of the designed asymmetrical LCT geometry. For given circuit specifications and LCT coupling conditions, determination of the optimal primary winding turns number could help achieve minimal winding loss and core loss. For lower output power, the optimal primary winding turns number tends to be larger compared to that for higher output power IPT system. Two asymmetrical LCT with similar dimension but different number of turns are built and tested with a 100-W hardware prototype for laptop inductive charging. The proposed efficiency improvement methodology is validated by the winding loss and core loss from experimental results.



inductive power transfer, loosely coupled transformer, compensation network, high efficiency, gap variation, misalignment