Control technique triples service life of power supplies

May 02, 2019 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Control technique triples service life of power supplies
Today's standard switching power supplies are light and compact, but due to the electrolytic capacitors built into them they are also prone to faults. Film capacitors would be much more durable. However, these require up to ten times more space. Scientists at the Light Technology Institute (LTI) at KIT have now developed a digital control method that allows film capacitors to be used in switching power supplies - with only a slight increase in space requirements.

The control algorithm, which runs on a microprocessor built into the power supply unit, detects disturbing environmental influences so that, for example, higher voltage fluctuations can be compensated. The higher control bandwidth enables storage capacitors with lower capacitance to be used sufficiently; the error-prone electrolytic capacitors can be dispensed with. Depending on the design, this can triple the operating time, a great advantage especially in places where maximum reliability is required, such as in aviation, electric cars or industrial applications.

This technology has only become possible with the spread of very powerful microprocessors, explains Michael Heidinger of the LTI. "The digitalization of power supplies can be compared with the technological leap from analog to digital photography. The technology brings further advantages of digitization, such as the ability to perform remote maintenance and the associated integration into the Internet of Things.

The researchers are now looking for industrial partners to commercialize their approach.

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