OVERVIEW

In power electronics we process electric power through semi-conductor switches. These power devices (MOSFET or IGBT) are at the heart of any power electronic converter. In many of our work we try find new topologies (configuration of switches) and modulation strategy (switching scheme), that improve power conversion efficiency and reduce size and cost. We emphasise on design, fabrication and testing of state of the art and advanced power converters. We do work on cutting edge embedded solutions for power electronic applications. Here is a list of few applications that we are currently working on.

Grid integration of Renewables:

Most of the renewable energy sources require power electronic converters for their integration to the power grid. For example wind generators produce variable frequency low voltage AC. So, we need a power converter to convert the variable frequency to fixed line frequency (50/60Hz) AC. The power converter also ensures extraction of maximum amount of available power from the renewable source. The challenges and requirements are different for different renewable sources like, wind, solar etc. Even for same source like solar the problem of grid integration is different for low power rooftop PV to utility scale solar parks. One of the focus of our work is to find better solutions that improve overall efficiency and reduce cost. For example we are working on solutions that can replace the current state of the art central inverter plus line frequency transformer solution for grid integration of utility scale solar, as shown below.

Powering Electric Vehicles:

Electric Vehicles (EV) pose a wide range of challenging problems to the power electronic engineer. In EV basically we drive an electric motor (Engine) from a battery (Fuel). You need a power converter to control the motor (brake or accelerate) and another one to charge the battery. One of the prime focus of our work in developing these converters is to reduce their weight and volume. Currently it takes little less than an hour to charge the battery with off-board DC chargers. But it takes few minutes to fill the tank of our cars. It is challenging to develop electronics for fast charging of EVs, as it will require large amount of power. Another interesting concept is to use the car batteries as storage to support irregular nature of the renewable sources. Now we are talking about sending power from vehicle to grid V2G, you need special chargers to do this. Will it not be awesome if your electric car can automatically wirelessly charge when you are shopping in the mall? 

Currently we are working on wireless chargers that utilize near field inductive power transfer. On the drive side one needs to look for multi-phase power converters to supply low voltage EV motors.

Medium Voltage Power Electronics

Power electronics research witnesses the emergence of medium voltage solid-state transformers, a transformative area that enables direct interaction with medium voltage transmission lines. This innovation promises superior system efficiency alongside a more compact form factor, a feat made possible by the utilization of emerging SiC devices and highly efficient compact high-frequency magnetics. In collaboration with Delta Electronics India Pvt. Ltd., we are deeply engaged in the development of a medium voltage AC to multiport low voltage DC converter tailored for fast-charging stations. The scope of this research extends further to encompass utility-scale grid integrations, spanning renewables, high-energy grid storage, and hydrogen electrolyzer plants. This proactive approach highlights our commitment to advancing transformative solutions across diverse green energy applications.

Space Power Electronics:

Satellites are primarily powered by solar energy and hence require power converters to supply the onboard loads. We are working with ISRO to develop a high frequency AC power system for the satellites. This in comparison with conventional DC power distribution will reduce size, weight and complexity.

Next Generation Devices:

Wide band gap semiconductor (WBG) devices such as GaN and Silicon Carbide are going to replace currently used silicon based power MOSFET and IGBT, due to their low conduction and switching losses. In other words use of these devices imply improvement in efficiency and power density (reduction in size). Though these improvements comes at the cost of fast switching dynamics that excites the circuit parasitic. This results in oscillation over voltages, EMI etc. One of the focus of our work is to understand the impact of parasitic and improve the circuit design to leverage the advantages of WBG devices.

Embedded system developement:

Digital control stands as an indispensable prerequisite for the optimal operation of any power converter. The realm of supervisory and closed-loop control for power converters finds its versatility through a wide array of microcontrollers and FPGAs. Within our domain, we engage extensively with numerous microcontrollers and FPGA boards, culminating in the development of application-specific System on on-board tailored for power converter control and management. Our pursuits also extend to the exploration of testing new features and architectural advancements within upcoming digital control platforms. This proactive approach allows us to rigorously assess their real-time effectiveness in various applications, ensuring that we remain at the forefront of innovation in the field.

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