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POWER DESIGN

Advantages of Interleaving Converters


By Keith Billings, DKB Power Inc., Ontario, Canada

ower supply designers should be aware that


all switchmode supplies are made up of
buck or boost regulators (or combinations
of buck/boost regulators) with or without
dc transformers. An excellent book by
Severns and Bloom presents a convincing case.
Fig. 1 shows typical buck and boost regulators with their
respective input and output current waveforms. When
combined with a dc transformer, isolation may be provided
and voltage transformation may be obtained. However, the
waveforms and transfer functions of the basic buck and/or
boost regulator are retained in any combination.
The buck regulator is characterized by a discontinuous
input current and a continuous output current (with some
ripple current, depending on the size of L1), while the boost
regulator has a continuous input current and a discontinuous output current.
In low-voltage, high-current applications the discontinuous current can present a major problem for the
smoothing capacitors C1 or C2. Assume we choose to use
a buck regulator to deliver 100 A at 12 V from a 24-V supply. The output current would have a mean value of 100 A,
and typically the triangular ripple current would be 10%

(10 A peak-to-peak). This can be easily smoothed with a


reasonable-size electrolytic capacitor bank. However, the
100-A square wave input current would require a huge bank
of smoothing capacitors to adequately decouple the large
discontinuous input current.
Fig. 2 shows how two buck regulators may be combined
to virtually eliminate the smoothing requirement. The first
advantage is that each regulator provides only 50 A, reducing the total IR loss by 50%. But more important, for the
example given above, the input for each regulator would
be a true square wave with a conduction period of 50% of
the total cycle. By phase shifting the drive to the lower section Q1(b) by 180, the current at the input summing point
A will be a near-continuous dc current of 50 A at 24 V.
On the output side at summing point B, the ripple current also sums to a steady dc current of 100 A at 12 V output. (The current in L1(a) increases as the current in L1(b)
decreases and inversely.)
Although this ideal condition will clearly degrade if the
input and output voltages differ from the ideal 2:1 ratio
(causing some gap or overlap in current pulses), generally
the ripple current will still be much reduced and much
smaller smoothing capacitors may be used. Where the ratio is not ideal, the duty cycle may be adjusted to the ideal
50% duty at the actual nominal working voltage, by tapping the flywheel diode D1 into the inductor, as shown in
Fig. 3a. Further, if the input is near three times the output,
then three regulators can be used phase shifted by 0 degrees, 120 degrees and 240 degrees.
It should be remembered that the buck regulator has
very low output impedance, and current mode control or
forced current sharing will be required to ensure each half

IIN

IOUT

100A
Buck
regulator

0
0 180 360
+

IIN

Q1

0 180360
L1

IOUT

D1

C1

100A

C2

COM

IIN

100A
0 180360

IOUT

Boost
regulator

IIN
C1

50A

100A
0

IIN

D1
Q1

D1
0 180

B
50A

Q2

L2
D2

I2

IOUT

100A
D.C.

C2

0 180

COM

Fig. 1. Typical buck and boost regulators with their respective input and
output current waveforms.
Power Electronics Technology

C1

C2

50A

I1

0 180 360

L1

Q1

November 2003

Fig. 2. Two buck regulators may be combined to virtually eliminate the


smoothing requirement

66

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POWER DESIGN
Tapping L1 to get 50% duty ratio

The DC-DC transformer


T1

L1
VIN

VOUT

Q1

+
DC output

D2

D1
C1

C2

+
DC input
Q1

For V > 2x VOUT


VIN

Q1

C1

Q2

D3

50% duty
(each side)

C2

Combining a DC - DC transformer and buck regulator

VOUT
C1

L1
D1

C2

D2

DC input
< 50% duty
(each side)

For V < 2x VOUT

C2
-

Buck regulator

P.W.M primary 5 w

Fig. 4a. The basic elements of a dc-dc transformer. Fig. 4b. By adding an output inductor L1 and
diode D1 and pulse width modulating Q1 and Q2, the action of the dc transformer and a buck
regulator are combined in a single unit.

L1

diode D1 and pulse width modulating Q1 and Q2, the action of the dc transformer and a buck regulator are combined in a single unit. Notice the input is now discontinuous and the output continuous, as found with the normal
straightforward buck regulator. Also notice D1 can be eliminated, as D2 and D3 will provide the flywheel action. The
advantage of the transformer is to provide isolation and
the opportunity to ratio the voltages. By choosing the transformer ratio correctly, the input current can be made into
a square wave, allowing two such units to be combined in
anti-phase to minimize the ripple currents. Many such combinations are possible- using buck, boost, buck-boost and
boost-buck combinations, with or without dc transformers, to form all known pulse-width modulated switch-mode
power supplies.
PETech

shares the load


current equally.
For a 180-degree
D1
phase shift, a stanQ1
dard dual-output
C1
C2
control IC can be
used. For 120 deFor VOUT > 2x VIN
grees and other
VOUT
more complex
VIN
D1
phase shifting, a
ring counter can
L1
C2
Q1
normally be conC1
figured to give the
required spacing
For VOUT < 2x VIN
to the drive pulses.
Fig. 3b. For non-ideal ratios, the inductor may be
The same aptapped in a similar way to the buck regulator to proach can be apgive near-square output pulses.
plied to the boost
regulator. But in this case, the major advantage would be
the summing of the output current pulses. Once again, for
non-ideal ratios, the inductor may be tapped in a similar
way to the buck regulator to give near-square output pulses
as shown in Fig 3b.
VOUT

References:
1. Modern DC-DC Switchmode Power Converter Circuits by
Severns and Bloom, published by Van Nostrand Reinhold
Company.

Correction:
In Choosing Core for Flyback Transformer and Choke
Designs (Power Design, August 2003), sendust powder core
material was referred to as Cool Mu. This should have been
Kool Mu, manufactured by Magnetics Inc.
In Optimizing High-Side Drivers for Switchmode
Supply (Power Design, October 2003), the last sentence
was incomplete. It should have said: To meet safety agency
requirements, use thin triple-insulated wire, such as
TEX-E, for these windings.

Adding a DC-DC Transformer


Fig. 4a shows the basic elements of a dc-dc transformer. DC is applied to the input, and Q1 and Q2 are driven
with a square wave drive to switch alternately into the
push-pull primary. Full-wave rectification provides a dc
output. Notice the input current and output current are
continuous.
Fig. 4b shows that by adding an output inductor L1 and
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D1

Fig. 3a. Where the ratio is not ideal, the duty cycle
may be adjusted to the ideal 50% duty at the
actual nominal working voltage, by tapping the
flywheel diode D1 into the inductor.

VIN

L1

D3

+
DC output

For more information on this article,


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Power Electronics Technology

November 2003