Because when it comes to power electronics, lighter, smaller, cooler and cheaper is always better.
As you’re moving along your path to full electric vehicles, you may still be struggling, like many OEMs, on several fronts. Among them: Costs, weight, packaging, reliability, range and thermal management. Now, what if we told you we could guide you to solutions to these challenges? And that one power electronics break through, in particular, could completely change your approach to hybrid and electric vehicles? That’s something that would definitely be worth a stop on your journey to electrification success.
A small switch that packs a big punch.
Let’s step back for just a second. You know that one of the most critical components needed for propulsion electrification is the inverter. Beyond the motor and batteries, it’s one of the biggest ticket items on an electrified vehicle. This key device transforms direct current (DC) from the battery pack into an alternating current (AC) to power the vehicle. The number of inverters needed depends on the number electric motors used on the vehicle – generally one per motor.
Unfortunately, today’s inverters are typically bulky, complex, expensive and prone to failure. These are the downsides we flipped on end in engineering our next-gen inverters with our patented silicon power switch we call, Viper.
The benefits you can realize with this technology, when compared to previous generation inverters:
- Weight reduction of 40 percent.
- Overall size reduction of 30 percent.
- Higher power densities of 25 percent.
- Cost reductions of 10 percent.
- Range improvements of 25 percent.
It may be small, but this inverter package definitely delivers big returns.
How Viper works.
Inside each inverter sits a power module, which is generally comprised of six switches, which flip back and forth between the different current types. With Viper, we compacted all six switches into one housing. This innovative design combines our patented silicon isolated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) switch and a diode into a single, electrically isolated package that is thermally conductive on both sides. The double-sided cooling reduces power module heat and delivers better reliability in a more compact design. It also permits much higher power outputs, increasing hybrid and electric vehicle range.
In addition, Viper’s unique cooling at the power stage enables the inverter itself to leverage the switch’s silicon, thereby reducing the size of the inverter’s semiconductor area by up to 50 percent. This saves space and cost.
In engineering the Viper, we also eliminated wire bonds – the complex web of wiring that pulls electrical current off the silicon and onto the inverter’s lead frame. Wire bonds typically are the leading cause of failure in current designs. No wire bonds equal better durability.
Viper’s improved reliability and compact size also allows inverter integration into other components. So, it’s now robust enough to mount directly to an electric motor or transmission, while being small enough that it can be packaged with other power electronics.
And, Viper’s unique semiconductor die size and heat sink material allows the inverter to be quickly scaled and adapted to varying power levels. As a result, it can be used across the multiple voltage and current levels required by full and plug-in hybrids and electrics.
While Viper and our next-gen inverters address many of the challenges you face today on the path to full electrics, they don’t address all of them. But, we’re working on it. Viper features strongly in our advances to create higher voltage inverters, along with the use of silicon carbide and other wide-band gap devices. These innovations could then cut additional costs, deliver faster switching speeds and drive increases in breakdown voltage.