What do we know about power electronics? Well, power electronics represent an essential branch of electronics and engineering. Additionally, power engineering deals with the transmission, generation, and usage of electric energy at high efficiency.
On the other hand, electronics engineering also deals with controlling electric energy and conversion. The power electronics system turns the electric energy into a different form. For instance, the input can be AC. However, the output can be DC as well.
It is widely known that this type of conversion is executed by the rectifier, which is why it can be concluded that the rectifier can be perceived as a power electronic system. Besides executing the conversion of electric energy, the power electronic system also controls the volume of electric energy to be conducted to the output.
Besides the basics written in this segment below, we will also provide you with some relevant information concerning power electronics. If you’re interested in learning more, then keep reading.
1- How Do They Work?
Namely, these electronic systems are utilized in various applications, for instance:
- Power transmission
- Power generation
- Power control
- Power distribution
In every application, the currents and input voltages are replaced by employing power semiconductor devices to offer preferable outputs. Furthermore, the build-up of basic semiconductor devices, like bipolar junction transistors (BJTs) and FETs are modified to resist high current and voltages.
As a result, we get power diodes, silicon-controlled thyristors (SCRs), power metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs), gate turn-off thyristors (GTOs), power BJTs, and insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs).
Moreover, the device selection primarily depends on the switching frequency requirements, power levels, the nature of outputs and inputs, and efficacy.
2- Different Types Of Converters
Power electronics circuits are also known as power converters. Connoisseurs of the Power Electronics Industry at everything PE would love to emphasize the fact that a converter employs semiconductor switches to transfer electrical power at high efficacy. Switches utilized are transistors, diodes, and thyristors. Converters can be put into these categories below:
- Diode Rectifier – Rectifier circuits turn ac input voltage into a fixed dc voltage. Namely, these are uncontrolled rectifiers employed in power supply, battery charging, UPS system, and electroplating.
- Choppers (DC to DC converters) –These turn fixed dc input voltage into a variable dc output voltage. They are customarily utilized in battery vehicles and DC drives.
- Phase-controlled rectifiers (AC to DC converters) turn fixed ac voltage into a variable dc output voltage. They can be defined as controlled rectifiers used in chemical industries and DC drives.
- AC converter cyclo converters (AC to AC converters) – These types of circuits turn input power at one frequency to output power at a completely different frequency. They are typically utilized in speed control of fans and lighting control.
- Inverters (DC to AC converters) turn a fixed dc voltage into a voltage variable or fixed magnitude and variable frequency.
- AC voltage controllers (AC regulators) – These types of converters turn fixed ac voltage straight to a variable ac voltage at the same frequency by employing line commutation.
Now, what do we know about the disadvantages of these types of converters? The biggest ones include:
- Complex design
- Regeneration of power is pretty challenging in power electronic systems
- Generally speaking, power electronic controllers have low overload capacity
- AC to DC and AC converter function at a relatively low input power factor under particular operating conditions
- Power electronic converter circuits frequently tend to produce harmonics in the supply system and also in the load circuit
3 – Application Of Power Electronics
Now, power electronics can be used in different technological fields, such as energy generation and conversion, industrial automation, environmental pollution, and many other fields. Power electronics are most frequently utilized in:
- Industries: this refers to chemical processing equipment, lighting, welding, electroplating, induction heating, pumps and compressors, conveyors, boilers, cranes, electric vehicles, electromagnets, furnaces, and many others
- Commercial – electric fans, audio amplifiers, computers, vending machines, photocopiers, battery chargers, etc.
- Home appliances – vacuum cleaners, fridges, sewing machines, washing machines, mixers and grinders, dryers, AC, and many other things.
- Automotive and security systems: regulators, electric vehicles, alarms, radar/sonar, etc.
- Medical: medical machines and instruments, test machines, fitness machines, and others
- Transportation: trains, motor drives, locomotives, subways, elevators, streetcars, and magnetic levitation
- Power systems: thyristor-controlled reactors, static circuit breakers, harmonics suppression, and energy storage systems
- Telecommunication: UPS, transmitters and receivers, DC power supply, wireless communication, etc.
4- Power Electronics & Social Benefits
The presence and expansion of Power Electronics in our society arrive from its huge capability and flexibility to adjust as much as possible to the purpose. Namely, it can be defined as a multi-tool that is able to solve various issues and challenges arising from rapid transformation towards a carbon-neutral energy system.
And who wins at the end of the day? Well, our planet earth and the society, of course. Additionally, in the past couple of years, Power Electronics and its capability to offer to society out-of-this-world technologies, bringing efficacy, trustworthiness, and compactness (by virtue of it, we are no longer forced to use planet’s resources and land as much we used to) have changed our world for the better.
More importantly, Power Electronics allows the electrification of remote urban areas, conversion of polluting industrial processes, and transportation infrastructure toward more eco-friendly solutions.
5 – The Biggest Benefits Of Power Electronics
Let’s never forget that electric power is rare, and it is important to deliver as much power as possible without experiencing serious losses. To accentuate how essential electric power is, below, we will showcase the biggest benefits of PE:
- High power density power supplies
- Enhanced efficiency of almost ninety-nine percent in power conversion
- Power can become accessible in the desired level and form as per specifications
- Enhanced clean power generation utilizing power electronic interfaces to connect sources to the grid
Suppose you weren’t too familiar with power electronics before. In that case, we hope that this article has managed to make things a bit clearer when it comes to it and help you realize how essential this technology is for energy-saving and, ultimately, the betterment of the planet.