Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: July 2016

4 - Power converters

from Part II - Technologies



Power electronics is the enabling technology for efficient and controllable conversion of electrical energy. Prior to the invention of the transistor in 1947 at Bell Labs – and more importantly the first power semiconductor, the silicon-controlled rectifier invented by GE in 1957 [1] – electrical energy at high power levels was not controllable except through crude and inefficient methods. This chapter will present the fundamental topo-logies, analysis, and control-of-power electronic technologies used as the basic building blocks of local area power and energy systems. The basic concepts of ac-dc, dc-dc, and dc-ac converters will be discussed with application to multiple converter systems. Primary topics will include topologies, control, and practical implementation.

Treatment of ac to dc rectifiers will cover point of load aspects such as power quality and controllability in ac architectures, including single and multiphase systems. Conversion of dc to dc power will play a central role in small-scale power systems because most renewable energy (photovoltaics) and energy storage (batteries) are dc voltage. Then dc to dc conversion will be presented as a key enabling technology, including single and multi-input topologies, and bidirectional power flow. The final section of this chapter will be devoted to dc to ac converters (also known as inverters). This section will cover the three main circuit topologies for inverters (voltage, current, and impedance source). Then, discussion of modulating and control techniques will show how these topologies link to single and multiphase ac small-scale power systems. It must be noted that this chapter represents a basic overview of power electronics as a subject of study and not as a comprehensive guide. The reader is encouraged to consult a power electronics text such as [2]–[4] for more in-depth treatment of these subjects and a more comprehensive listing and treatment of converter topologies.

Power conversion concepts

In general, a power electronic interface enables a controllable bidirectional energy flow between electrical sources and loads, as illustrated in Figure 4.1. In LAPES, the distinction between “sources” and “loads” can sometimes be undefined and may depend on time and system conditions. This conversion can involve changes in voltage levels and galvanic isolation depending on the needs of the application.

[1] Bisson, D. and Dyer, R., “A Silicon-Controlled Rectifier: Characteristics and Ratings,” Transactions of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, Part I: Communication and Electronics, vol. 78, 1959, pp. 102–106.
[2] Krein, P. T., Elements of Power Electronics. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
[3] Erickson, R. W. and Maksimovic, D., Fundamentals of Power Electronics, ed. Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic, 2001.
[4] Hart, D. W., Power Electronics. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011.
[5] Ma, D. and Bondade, R., eds., “Power Semiconductor Devices,” Reconfigurable Switched-Capacitor Power Converters, Springer, 2013, pp. 23–39.
[6] Ng, K. K., “Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor,” Complete Guide to Semiconductor Devices, Second Edition, 2010, pp. 379–384.
[7] “IEEE Recommended Practices and Requirements for Harmonic Control in Electrical Power Systems,” IEEE Std 519–1992, 1993.
[8] Krein, P. T., Bentsman, J., Bass, R. M., and Lesieutre, B. L., “On the Use of Averaging for the Analysis of Power Electronic Systems,” IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics, vol. 5, 1990, pp. 182–190.
[9] Tymerski, R., Vorperian, V., Lee, F. C. Y., and Baumann, W. T., “Nonlinear Modeling of the PWM Switch,” IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics, vol. 4, 1989, pp. 225–233.
[10] Tao, H., Kotsopoulos, A., Duarte, J. L., and Hendrix, M. A. M., “Family of Multiport Bidirectional DC-DC Converters,” IEE Proceedings of Electric Power Applications, vol. 153, 2006, pp. 451–458.
[11] Kwasinski, A. and Krein, P. T., “Multiple-Input DC-DC Converters to Enhance Local Availability in Grids Using Distributed Generation Resources,” IEEE Applied Power Electronics Conference, 2007, pp. 1657–1663.
[12] Kwasinski, A., “Identification of Feasible Topologies for Multiple-Input DC–DC Converters,” IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics, vol. 24, 2009, pp. 856–861.
[13] Krein, P. T., “Current Quality and Performance Tradeoffs under Active Power Factor Correction,” Proceedings IEEE Workshop on Computers in Power Electronics, 2004, pp. 97–101.
[14] Burns, W. W. and Wilson, T. G., “A State-Trajectory Control Law for DC-to-DC Converters,” IEEE Transactions on Aerospace and Electronic Systems, vol. 14, 1978, pp. 2–20.
[15] Zmood, D. N. and Holmes, D. G., “Improved Voltage Regulation for Current-Source Inverters,” IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications, vol. 37, 2001, pp. 1028–1036.
[16] Peng, F. Z., “Z-Source Inverter,” IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications, vol. 39, 2003, pp. 504–510.
[17] Bowes, S. R. and Lai, Y.-S., “The Relationship between Space-Vector Modulation and Regular-Sampled PWM,” IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics, vol. 44, 1997, pp. 670–679.
[18] Krause, P. C. and Thomas, C. H., “Simulation of Symmetrical Induction Machinery,” IEEE Transactions on Power Apparatus and Systems, vol. 84, 1965, pp. 1038–1053.
[19] Ilic-Spong, M., Miller, T. J. E., MacMinn, S. R., and Thorp, J. S., “Instantaneous Torque Control of Electric Motor Drives,” IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics, vol. PE-2, 1987, pp. 55–61.