Proceedings of the 14th International Middle East Power Systems Conference (MEPCON’10), Cairo University, Egypt, December 19-21, 2010

, Paper ID 154.

Review of Passive and Active Circuits for Power
Factor Correction in Single Phase, Low Power ACDC Converters
H.Z.Azazi*, E. E. EL-Kholy**, S.A.Mahmoud* and S.S.Shokralla*
* Electrical Engineering Department, Faculty of Engineering, Menoufiya University, Shebin El-Kom, Egypt
** King Abdulaziz University, Faculty of Engineering, Electrical Engineering Department, Saudi Arabia
Email: Dr_hn1984@yahoo.com
Abstract :- The increasing growth in the use of electronic
equipment in recent years has resulted in a greater need to
ensure that the line current harmonic content of any
equipment connected to the ac mains is limited to meet
regulatory standards. This requirement is usually satisfied
by incorporating some form of Power Factor Correction
(PFC) circuits to shape the input phase currents, so that
they are sinusoidal in nature and are in phase with the
input phase voltages. There are multiple solutions in which
line current is sinusoidal. This paper provides a concise
review of the most interesting passive and active circuits of
power factor correction, for single phase and low power
applications.The major advantages and disadvantages are
highlighted.
Keywords: Converter, Power factor correction, Harmonic
currents.
1. INTRODUCTION
Power factor correction (PFC) is necessary for ac-to-dc
converters in order to comply with the requirements of
international standards, such as IEC 61000–3–2 and IEEE519. PFC can reduce the harmonics in the line current,
increase the efficiency and capacity of power systems, and
reduce customer’s utility bill [1-2].
Single phase diode rectifiers are widely used for industrial
applications. Many conventional switching power supplies in
data processing equipment and low power motor drive
systems operate by rectifying the input ac line voltage and
filtering with large electrolytic capacitors. The capacitor draws
current in short pulses. This introduces several problems
including reduction in the available power and increase losses.
This process involves both nonlinear and storage elements,
and results in the generation of harmonics in the line current
[3-5] .The non linear characteristics of loads such as
televisions, computers, faxes and variable speed motor drives
(used in air-conditioning) have made harmonic distortion in
electrical distribution systems. However, when operating in
large numbers, the cumulative effect of these loads has the
capability of causing serious harmonic distortions. This results
in a poor power quality, voltage distortion, poor power factor
at input ac mains, slowly varying rippled dc output at load end
and low efficiency [3].
The input current has narrow pulses which in turn increase
its r.m.s value. Buildings with a large number of computers
and data processing equipments also experience large neutral

217

currents rich in third harmonic currents. Therefore, the
reduction in input current harmonics and the improvement of
power factor operation of motor drives are necessary for
energy saving. Many methods have been proposed to solve the
problem of a poor power factor, which can be classified as
active and passive methods.
The non-ideal character of these input currents creates a
number of problems for the power distribution network and
for other electrical apparatuses in the neighborhood of the
rectifier systems. This approach has many disadvantages,
including:
1) High-input harmonic current components.
2) Low rectifier efficiency due to large rms value of the input
current.
3) Input ac mains voltage distortion because of the associated
peak currents.
4)Maximum input power factor is approximately 0.6, while a
larger filter inductor is required for a high-input power
factor [4].
Unless some correction circuit is used, the input rectifier
with a capacitive filter circuit will draw pulsating currents
from the utility grid, resulting in poor power quality and high
harmonic contents that adversely affect other users. The
situation has drawn the attention of regulatory bodies around
the world. Governments are tightening regulation, setting new
specifications for low harmonic currents, and restricting the
amount of harmonic currents that can be generated. As a
result, there is a need for a reduction in line harmonics current
necessitating the need for power factor correction (PFC) and
harmonic reduction circuits [5].
2. DEFINITION OF POWER FACTOR
Power factor (PF) is defined as the ratio of the real power
(P) to apparent power (S), or cosine (for pure sine wave for
both current and voltage) the phase angle between the current
and voltage waveforms.
PF = Real Power / Apparent Power

(1)

Real power (watts) produces real work; this is the energy
transfer component . Reactive power is the power required to
produce the magnetic fields (lost power) to enable the real
work to be done, where apparent power is considered the total
power that the power company supplies. This total power is
the power supplied through the power mains to produce the
required amount of real power.

In elementary courses in electricity. 1). current is drawn from the input only at the peaks of the input waveform. but making the distortion factor Kd unity is more difficult. For sinusoidal voltage and nonsinusoidal current. capacitive and inductive elements and all are linear (invariant with current and voltage). Power Factor vs.Harmonic contents of the current waveform in Figure 2 Assuming an ideal sinusoidal input voltage source. This means that the power source has a higher VA rating than what the load needs. it means that the converter absorbs apparent power higher than the active power. Then we have. meaning that the current during the pulse must be 5 to 10 times of the average current as illustrated by fig. the even harmonics are barely visible.rms cos ϕ =Kd cosφ I rms Vrms I rms PF=Kd K θ (2) (3) The distortion factor Kd is given by the following equation: Kd = I rms(1) / I rms (4) The displacement factor K θ is given by the following equation: K θ = cos φ (5) The displacement factor k θ can be made unity with a capacitor or inductor. Note that. and this pulse of current must contain enough energy to sustain the load until the next peak. where both the current and voltage are pure sine waves.Input Characteristics of a typical switched-mode power supply without PFC Then: 218 . Figure 3 shows the harmonic content of the current waveform. It is not unusual for the current pulse of 10% to 20% of the cycle duration.is the ratio of the fundamental rootmean-square (RMS) current (Irms(1)) to the total RMS current (Irms). 3. 1. In addition. but it applies only in the special case. The power factor of this power supply is approximately 0. Harmonic Reduction: The following equations link total harmonic distortion to power factor. the power factor can be expressed as the product of the distortion factor and the displacement factor. the power factor is the cosine of the phase angle. The displacement factor k θ is the cosine of the displacement angle (φ) between the fundamental input current and the input voltage. 2. equation (1) can be expressed as: Fig. This is done by dumping a large charge into the capacitor during a short time. this is sometimes taught as the definition of the power factor. after which the capacitor slowly discharges the energy into the load until the cycle repeats. when the fundamental component of the input current is in phase with the input voltage.0.6 [6]. the power factor is 1.Diode bridge rectifier Switched-mode power supplies present a non-linear impedance to the mains. The capacitor maintains voltage of approximately the peak voltage of the input sine wave until the next peak comes along to recharge it. this is a result of the symmetry of the waveform. 2 . In this case. as given by equation (3). as a result of the input circuitry. Fig. (8) PF = K d K θ = K d Fig. The input circuit usually consists of a half-wave or full-wave rectifier followed by a storage capacitor (similar to Fig. This occurs when the load is composed of resistive. THD (%) = 100 × K d = 1 K 2 −1 (6) d 1 ⎛ THD (%) ⎞ 1+ ⎜ ⎟ 100 ⎝ ⎠ (7) 2 Therefore. The distortion factor Kd .If both current and voltage are sinusoidal and in phase. rms cos ϕ = 1. When a converter has less than unity power factor. The fundamental (in this case 50 Hz) is shown with a reference amplitude of 100%. Kθ = 1. the harmonic currents generated by the converter in the power source affects other equipment [7]. If both are sinusoidal but not in phase. I PF= Vrms I1. and the higher harmonics are then given with their amplitudes (shown as percentages of the fundamental amplitude).

An improvement of the power factor can be obtained by adding the capacitor Ca as shown in Fig. PASSIVE METHODS OF PFC 3. The inductor current is continuous for a large enough inductance Ld .6 (b) by the simulated line current for Ld 275mH and Ca 4. which compensates the displacement factor.1. This is shown in Fig. When the power factor is not equal to 1. (a).Classification of single-phase PFC topologies. POWER FACTOR CORRECTION CIRCUITS Simulated results of the rectifier with AC-side inductor are presented in Fig. With Ca Without Ca (b) Fig. where the inductance La has been chosen to maximize the power factor. One of the simplest methods is to add an inductor at the AC-side of the diode bridge. b) Line voltage and line current with V1=220Vrms .1. cos φ=0. leading to a maximum obtainable power factor 0.905 [9].8µF. 6. the current waveform does not follow the voltage waveform.88 (b) Fig. This result not only in power losses. b) Line voltage and line current with V1=220Vrms . Rectifier with DC-side inductor The inductor can be also placed at the DC-side. 3. and La=130mH. which is previously discussed. which is obtained by using a correspondingly large capacitance of the output capacitor Cf . resistive load R=500Ω .9 . the operating mode being identical to the case of the AC-side inductor. -100 -200 -300 -400 0. Rectifier with AC-side inductor (a) Passive methods of PFC use additional passive components in conjunction with the diode bridge rectifier (Fig.855 and PF=0. in series with the line voltage as shown in Fig. This is because most loads require a supply voltage V2 with low ripple. 5.76. for Ld 1H (without Ca). The diode bridge rectifier (similar to Fig. 4. shown in Fig. (a) 219 . The line current has Kd=0. 6 (b).845 0. In the theoretical case of near infinite inductance. Consequently.84 0. resistive load R=500Ω and Cf=470μF.76. 6.1. as illustrated by the simulated line current waveform.1. A design for Kd and unity displacement factor cos φis possible. 4.86 0.855 0.87 0. as shown in Fig. 1) has no sinusoidal line current. The maximum power factor that can be obtained in such a case is 0.875 0. 3. The classification of single-phase PFC topologies is shown in Fig. the inductor current becomes discontinuous. 1). cos φ.759 [7].865 0. (a) [8]. There are several methods to reduce the harmonic contents of the line current in single-phase systems. 5(a).2. For lower inductance Ld. so the input current of the rectifier has a square shape and the power factor is 0. the inductor current is constant. The maximum power factor that can be obtained by this configuration is 0.6. but may also cause harmonics that travel down the neutral line and disrupt other devices connected to the line. 5(b).PF = (9) 1 ⎛ THD (%) 1 + ⎜ 100 ⎝ 400 Line Voltage 300 ⎞ ⎟ ⎠ 2 Line Current 200 100 0 The purpose of the power factor correction circuit is to minimize the input current distortion and make the current in phase with the voltage. Fig. operation close to this condition would require a very large inductor.Rectifier with AC-side inductor: a) Schematic.888. the conduction intervals of the rectifier diodes are short and the line current consists of narrow pulses with an important harmonic contents [8].Rectifier with DC-side inductor: a) Schematic. Cf=470μF . 3.85 0. However.

1. 3. and output voltage is V2=250V. and R5=0. For 50Hz networks.845 0. 8.935 and PF=0. The added reactive elements have relatively low values.855 0.Rectifier with series-resonant band-pass filter: a) Schematic. 9 (b).88 (b) Fig.87 0. As seen from Fig. cos φ=0.999 and PF=0. Harmonic traps can be used also in conjunction with other reactive networks.1.845 0. Cf=470μF. respectively. The circuit changes the shape of the (a) 220 .865 0. R3=0. C5=4. (a) 300 Line Current 200 3. b) Line voltage and line current In Fig.998. cos φ=0.In Figure 6. There are also several solutions based on resonant networks which are used to attenuate harmonics.999 and PF=0.88 (b) Fig. and output voltage is V2=200V. and output voltage is V2=260V. With Ld=1H and without Ca . at the expense of increased circuit complexity.6. 100 0 -100 3.8 μF. Figure (7-a) shows the schematic diagram. Lp=240mH and Cp=4. together with simulated waveforms. 8 has two harmonic traps. with V1=220Vrms.875 0.976 and PF=0.865 0. -400 0. With Ld=275mH and with Ca =4.88 (b) Fig.855 0.905 .4.1 Ω . and output voltage is V2=290V. harmonic. C3=5.84 Line Voltage 0. resistive load R=500Ω . such as a band-stop filter. 10.969. -200 -300 band-stop filter of the parallelshows the schematic diagram and The filter is tuned at the third for lower values of the reactive to the series-resonant band-pass -400 0. Cf=470μF.1.919.87 0. the filter shown in Fig. connected in parallel to the AC source and tuned at a harmonic that must be attenuated [11]. and output voltage is V2=230V. L3=200mH . Figure 8 the simulated waveforms.5H and Cs=6.5.9.86 0. Rectifier with an additional inductor.875 0. cos φ=0. resistive load R=500Ω . cos φ=0. Cf=470μF.855 0. L1=400mH . The line current has Kd=0.87 0. capacitor and diode (LCD): The rectifier with an additional inductor. b) Line voltage and line current with V1=220Vrms.1.865 0. a bandpass filter of the series resonant type. hence it allows elements when compared filter.84 0.875 0. 9.897.918. For example.86 0. which are tuned at the 3rd and 5th harmonic.86 0.904. The line current has Kd=0. capacitor.6 μF . tuned at the linefrequency. is introduced in-between the AC source and the load. and diode – LCD rectifier – is shown in Fig.845 0.85 0. large values of the reactive elements are needed. (a) 400 Line Voltage 300 Line Current 200 The line current has Kd=0. the line current has Kd=0.993.3.85 0. Rectifier with harmonic trap filter Another possibility is to use a harmonic trap filter.75 μF. 3.999.Rectifier with parallel-resonant band-stop filter: a) Schematic. the line current is improved. cos φ=0.85 0. Ls=1. 7.Rectifier with harmonic trap filter: a) Schematic. the line current has Kd=0.1 Ω. b) Line voltage and line current with V1=220Vrms. The harmonic trap consists of a series-resonant network. resistive load R=500Ω .999 and PF=0.84 0.04 μF . For example.7 μF. 400 100 0 -100 -200 -300 The shape of the line current can be further improved by using a combination of low-pass input and output filters [10]. Rectifier with parallel-resonant band-stop filter The solution uses a resonant type [4]. and figure (7b) shows the simulated results.839. Rectifier with series-resonant band-pass filter 400 Line Voltage 300 Line Current 200 100 0 -100 -200 -300 -400 0. L5=100mH .

845 0. the fundamental component may show an excessive phase shift that reduces the power factor. On the negative side. the inductance Ld and firing angleαare chosen to maximize Kd. the reactive elements are large and the regulation of the output voltage is slow. ACTIVE METHODS OF PFC The active methods of PFC. (a) 400 Line Voltage 300 Line Current 200 100 0 -100 -200 -300 -400 0. which can amplify other harmonics [11]. (d). in order to improve the shape of the line current [15]. at low switching frequency. In harmonic trap filters. the line current has a considerable ripple content. capacitor and diode (LCD): a) Schematic. (b) 3. Passive methods of power factor correction have certain advantages.792. 11. 10. resistive load R=500Ω . multiple switching per line-cycle can be used. This solution offers controllable output voltage. It is derived from the rectifier with a DC-side inductor (Fig. the overall power factor PF is always less than 0. [13]. no generation of highfrequency electro magnetic interface (EMI) and no high frequency switching losses. In Ref. The line current has Kd=0. (a) and Fig. and output voltage is V2=300V. In such circuits.85 0. (a) 3. However. as illustrated in Fig. they also have several drawbacks. obtained.865 0.11. The active switch S is turned on for the duration Ton . However. According to Ref. it is simple. (f). (b) respectively. using switching devices such as MOSFETs and IGBTs. insensitivity to noise and surges. On the other hand. Theoretically. depending on the inductance Ld and the firing-angleα.11. the inductor current is constant for a near-infinite inductance Ld . The line current shape is square. a nearunity distortion factor Kd or displacement factor cosφcan be (c) 221 . where diodes are replaced with thyristors.input current. the required inductance Ld is large and impractical [16]. lack voltage regulation and the shape of their input current depends on the load.794. Ca .10.875 0. Cf=470μF.2.87 0. which involve the shaping of the line current. low-frequency switching PFC offers the possibility to control the output voltage within certain limits. This implies a lagging displacement factor. However. reliability and ruggedness.(e). In Fig. (c).Rectifier with an additional inductor. while only a limited reduction of the harmonic currents can be obtained [12]. because the line-frequency reactive components are used. Nevertheless.88 (b) Fig. LOW-FREQUENCY ACTIVE METHODS OF PFC Three representative solutions are presented in Fig. with V1=220Vrms.11.2. [14].11. C1=40 μF and Ld=10mH . This approach is similar to that used for the diode bridge rectifier with a DC-side inductor. cos φ=0. Solutions based on filters are heavy and bulky. The phase-controlled rectifier and its control signals are shown in Fig.998 and PF=0. cosφ that is compensated by additional an input capacitance. However. They also have a poor dynamic response. the output voltage regulation is slow and a relatively large inductance Ld is still required. as illustrated in Fig.6).1. parallel-resonance at different frequencies occurs too. such as simplicity. It is also possible to have multiple switching per half line-cycle. is a result of advances in power semiconductor devices. For lower harmonic contents of the line current.84 0. The low-frequency switching Boost converter is shown in Fig.11. b) Line voltage and line current. with adjustable duty-cycle. and uses low-cost thyristors. series-resonance is used to attenuate a specific harmonic.7. Even though line current harmonics are reduced.855 0. circuits based on resonant networks are sensitive to the line-frequency. reliable. The low-frequency switching Buck converter is shown in Fig.86 0. Moreover. The switch is turned on for the duration Ton and the on-time intervals are symmetrical with respect to the zero-crossings of the line voltage.11. switching losses and high-frequency EMI are negligible. to enlarge the conduction interval of the rectifier diodes [2]. To conclude.

or Discontinuous Inductor Current Mode . HIGH-FREQUENCY ACTIVE METHODS OF PFC The PFC stage can be realized by using a diode bridge and a DC/DC converter with a switching frequency much higher than the line-frequency. 11. with d) waveforms. e) Buck-Boost converter. where the inductor current is zero during intervals of the switching cycle. if a suitable control method is used to shape its input current.DICM. or if it has inherent PFC properties. e) Buck converter. with d) one commutation per half line-cycle. In principle. The converters can operate in Continuous Inductor Current Mode – CICM. where the inductor current never reaches zero during one switching cycle. with f) waveforms.Low frequency active circuits of PFC: a) Controlled rectifier with DC-side inductor.2. (d) 3. c) Boost converter. 12. c) Boost converter.high-frequency active circuits of PFC: a) Buck converter. (e) (f) Fig. with f) one commutation per half line-cycle. with b) waveforms. any DC/DC converter can be used for this purpose.2. with b) phase-control. (a) 222 .(d) (b) (e) (c) (f) Fig.

It produces a large spectrum of harmonic signals that may disturb other equipments. shown in Fig.PWM rectifier Buck-Boost Converter: The Buck-Boost converter. Therefore. hence the output voltage V2 is always higher than the input voltage V1. Buck Converter: The Buck converter. the input current of the converter is discontinuous. • For higher power levels. The Boost converter is shown in Fig. PWM rectifier: Another non-isolated PFC topology is the PWM rectifier [24-25]. assuming operation in CICM. It also needs more complicated control than the boost topology. as illustrated in Fig. Therefore. so the input current does not have crossover distortions.m. 12 (e). resulting from a waveform distortion of the current drawn from the power line. this topology has an increased number of switches. the input current is discontinuous with significant high-frequency contents. 14. operation is possible throughout the linecycle and the output voltage can be varied in a wide range. the input current is continuous. the voltage stress of the switches is lower than in a BuckBoost converter. 12 (b). active techniques of PFC will result in size. Fig. For these reasons. can operate either as a step-down or a step-up converter. Moreover.Boost converter shown in Fig. This means that the output voltage V2 can be higher or lower than the amplitude V1 of the input voltage. the input current has a significant high-frequency component that increases EMI and filter is required. It is concluded that the harmonics may be reduced and the supply can be mad more efficient by additional circuits at the input of the converter. The topology in Ref [24] can supply the step-up or step-down outputs like the buck-boost circuit. Moreover.Two. For medium and higher power applications. Another positive aspect is that. Examples have been provided for passive In addition to these basic converters. which leads to higher cost and conduction losses. the line current of a power factor correction based on a Buck converter has crossover distortions.s current rating of the output filter capacitor. shown in Fig. similar to the Buck converter. Operation is possible throughout the line-cycle. it is possible to obtain an output voltage V2 lower than the input voltage (V1 ). A full-bridge PWM rectifier in Ref [25] provides the step-up output. even in CICM. The PWM rectifier circuit needs two [24] or four [25] power switches to achieve the unity power factor. 14. However. 13. 12 (f).a similar manner of the Buck-Boost converter. the converter can operate only when the instantaneous input voltage v1 is higher than the output voltage V2. However. Consequently. 12 (a). which translates into higher voltage stress for the switch. as illustrated in Fig. Many solutions for ac-dc power factor correction have been discussed. 12 together with waveforms relevant for a PFC application. However. Operation is possible throughout the line-cycle and a sinusoidal line current can be obtained.switches Buck. where the input filter requirements dominate the size of the magnetic elements. due to its non-inverted output voltage. an input current with reduced high-frequency content can be obtained when operating in CICM. The converters are shown in Fig. the CCM boost converter is a better choice. the Boost converter operating in CICM is widely used for PFC [19-22]. Fig. conventional AC rectification is a very inefficient process. It has a step-up conversion ratio. shown in Fig. which gives freedom in specifying the output voltage. 13 [23] is an interesting solution. Thus. and it can operate in two modes – continuous conduction mode (CCM) and discontinuous conduction mode (DCM). 12 (d).or full-bridge configuration.Boost converter Boost Converter: The boost converter. Hence. due to lower peak current (which reduces conduction losses) and lower ripple current (which reduces input filter requirements and inductor AC losses). has a stepdown conversion ratio. weight and cost benefits over passive techniques of PFC. is the most common topology used for power factor correction. the two switches Buck . because it employs a half. 12 (c). the output voltage is inverted. Hence. • Reduced r. It operates as a Buck converter when the input voltage is higher than the output voltage and as a Boost converter when the input voltage is lower than the output voltage. 4. the input current has a significant high-frequency component that increases EMI and filtering requirements [7]. As illustrated in Fig. CONCLUSIONS As we have seen. • Unity power factor is possible to achieve. Some PFC applications based on this topology are reported in Ref [17-18]. The use of active techniques of PFC results in one or more of the following advantages: • Lower harmonic contents in the input current in comparison to the passive techniques. in 223 .

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