Traction Drive System for Electric Vehicles, Using Multilevel Converters
Juan W. Dixon, Micah Ortúzar and Felipe Ríos
The application of multilevel converters for traction drive systems is being investigated. The mainadvantage of this kind of topology is that it can generate almost perfect current or voltage waveforms, because it is modulated by amplitude instead of pulse-width. That means that the pulsating torquegenerated by harmonics can be eliminated, and power losses into the machine due to harmoniccurrents can also be eliminated. Another advantage of this kind of drive is that the switching frequencyand power rating of the semiconductors is reduced considerably. The amplitude modulation is basedon a cascade of N converters scaled in a “trinary” form (three-state “H” converters). In the chain of Nconverters of each phase (N-Stage Converter), there is a “Master converter” that manages more than80% of the total power, and N-1 “Slave converters” that take the rest of the power (less than 20%).One important drawback of this kind of arrangement is that it needs isolated power sources for eachone of the N converters, and also for each phase. This paper shows that this problem can be overcome by using isolated motor windings for each phase of the traction motor (which is easy to get in normalmachines), and by using low-power high-frequency, bidirectional switching power supplies for the“slave converters”. Simulations using PSIM (Power Electronics Simulator) have demonstrated thefeasibility to build drive converters for electric vehicles using multilevel inverters. They are beingcompared with inverters using the conventional PWM technique. The multilevel converter used in thesimulations, works with only four inverters (N=4): one Master and three Slaves. In both the cases(PWM and multilevel), the traction motors have a rating of 80 kW, and the battery pack supply is 240Vdc. The battery pack is connected to the master converters of each phase in parallel, and to the slavesthrough isolated bi-directional switching power supplies.
Inverter, Drive, Converter, Control System, Electric Drive.
Power Electronics technologies contribute with important part in the development of electric vehicles.On the other hand, the PWM techniques used today to control modern static converters for electrictraction, do not give perfect waveforms, which strongly depend on switching frequency of the power semiconductors. Normally, voltage (or current in dual devices) moves to discrete values, forcing thedesign of machines with good isolation, and sometimes loads with inductances in excess of therequired value. In other words, neither voltage nor current are as expected. This also means harmoniccontamination, additional power losses, torque ripple, and high frequency noise that can affect thecontrollers. All these reasons have generated many research works on the topic of PWM modulation[1-4].Multi-stage converters [5-7] work more like amplitude modulation rather than pulse modulation, andthis fact makes the outputs of the converter very much cleaner. This way of operation allows havingalmost perfect currents, and very good voltage waveforms, eliminating most of the undesirableharmonics. And even better, the bridges of each converter work at a very low switching frequency,which gives the possibility to work with low speed semiconductors, and to generate low switchingfrequency losses. The objective of this paper is to show the advantages of multi-stage converters for all kind of applications. The drawbacks of requiring isolated power supplies is solved using differenttechniques, which depend on the type of application, and based on the fact that the first converter,called Master, takes more than 80% of the total power delivered to the load. A four-stage converter using three-state power modules, which gives 81 different levels of voltage amplitude, is studied. Theresults are compared with conventional PWM modulators working at a switching frequency of 10kHz. All the load parameters of both types of converters are set at the same values.