Powering, Protecting, and Augmenting EVs and HEVs

Jason Lomberg, North American Editor, PSD


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It’s fitting that last month covered the Internet of Things, since the greatest beneficiary of a functional IoT is the automotive sector, which is the topic du jour for December. And a voluminous topic it is, with subsets ranging from replacing alternators with DC-DC converters to battery charger ICs, surface-mount fuse technology, silicon carbide, and a lot more.

Our holiday issue of PSD focuses on “Electric & Hybrid Vehicles,” and Bel Power Solutions takes the opportunity to discuss the benefits of replacing alternators with DC-DC converters in road transport applications.

As Bel’s Frank Vondenhoff notes, DC-DC converters have numerous efficiency, reliability, and practical advantages over alternators.

“The benefits of DC-DC converters, compared to alternators, stem largely from the fact that they draw power directly from an HV battery pack rather than from the rotation of an engine or motor. Not only is this more efficient, but it dispenses with the need for various moving parts,” he says.

A reliable battery ecosystem is indispensible for modern EV and hybrid vehicles, which makes battery charger ICs more important than ever. Analog Devices’ Steve Knoth covers this in his piece, which addresses “Simple Battery Charger ICs for Any Chemistry.”

“Traditional linear topology battery charger ICs were often valued for their compact footprints, simplicity and low cost. However, drawbacks of these linear chargers include a limited input and battery voltage range, higher relative current consumption, excessive power dissipation, limited charge termination algorithms and lower relative efficiency,” Steve says.

Steve describes several modern solutions, including a battery charging controller IC and buck IC chargers.

Meanwhile, Mike Roach with AEM Components covers one of the most pertinent issues for electronic systems in harsh automotive applications.

Wide temperature variations, shock and vibration, exposure to humidity, water chemicals, and salt pose a vital threat to sensitive automotive components, and while traditionally, blade-type automotive fuses have provided the necessary fault protection, the rise of “smart” vehicles has pushed designers towards pc board-mounted circuit protection.

“The rapid emergence of electric (EV) and hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) in particular, have underscored the necessity for highly reliable circuit protection to help protect against catastrophic failures and this has in turn placed increased emphasis on improving surface-mount fuse technology,” claims Mike.

And finally, I’d like to touch on one of the industry’s hottest topics, silicon carbide. We’ve covered that (and its cousin, gallium nitride) rather extensively, and back in August, Mitch Van Ochten from ROHM Semiconductor came aboard the PSDcast (podcast) to discuss the company’s involvement with the Formula E electric racing series.

A crucial part of ROHM’s official technology partnership with the Venturi racing team is the former’s SiC diodes, and Mitch joins us again – in written form – to cover the “Challenges of SiC for Automotive Applications.”

As a call-back to our PSDcast, Mitch notes that “the traction inverter used in Season 3 of Formula E’s electric car racing series replaced the conventional silicon diodes with ROHM SiC devices, resulting in a 1.7% improvement in efficiency.”

Have a happy and healthy holiday season!

Best Regards,

Jason Lomborg

North American Editor, PSD