Symmetrical multilevel converters with two quadrant DC-DC feeding

In the technology sector of power electronics and control, the multilevel converter technology is still a rather new research area, but the application possibilities in the field of power drives and energy will demand more solutions with this promising technology. In the future, more converter systems will be realized with the multilevel topology. Up to now, multilevel converters have only been used in very particular applications, mainly due to the high costs and complexity of the multilevel converter system. The high costs are due to the fact that the latest technology on semiconductors, magnetic material for inductor and transformer cores and control system technology had to be used. But nowadays new developments in the fields of power semiconductors such as the IGBT, IGCT and perhaps in the future SiC switches as well as improvements of the performance of magnetic cores used in medium frequency transformers will favor the multilevel converters for many other application fields. It can be noted that the industrial trend is moving away from heavy and bulky passive components towards power converter systems using more and more semiconductor elements controlled by powerful processor systems integrating intelligent multi-task control algorithms. The presented work is a contribution to the large field of multilevel converters. It shows a certain kind of multilevel converter in a single phase and a three-phase configuration, called the series-connected four-quadrant converters (SCFQ). The two specialties of the presented converter type are a) that all the multilevel converter steps are fed by an identical DC voltage and b) that every multilevel converter step is realized with an individual AC-DC converter or four-quadrant converter. This type of multilevel converter is called multilevel converter with symmetrical feeding. In this work, a general theoretical development has been done for the use of this multilevel converter type. A special type of DC-DC converter is presented, in order to feed the individual four-quadrant converters of the multilevel converter with a constant DC voltage. All the developments and methods used are based on mathematical expressions. Various simulations using the latest software simulation tools are accomplished and are used to study different cases. The feasibility of the developments is underlined with a series of experimental results with all types of the used converters, which have been realized in the framework of this thesis. The main application for the multilevel converter presented in this work is the frontend power converter in locomotives. Instead of using a heavy low-frequency transformer to reduce the high-voltage from the catenary to a supportable voltage for the semiconductors, a multilevel converter concept is used. The multilevel converter is directly coupled to the catenary. There are many advantages compared to the existing solutions. In the same context, a novel solution of a multilevel converter has been developed for a locomotive usable on different power lines. The converter allows not only the operation on the high AC voltage power line (15kV), but also can be coupled to a medium-voltage DC power line (3kV). Three different configuration types of the locomotive converter have been developed and tested in a complex simulation environment. Besides the locomotive application, there are many more interesting applications for the symmetrical multilevel converter, e.g. in the fields of energy transmission (FACTS, static VAR compensators, electronic high-voltage transformers, etc.) and industrial drives. But certainly in the future with the availability of cheap semiconductors adapted to the needs of the multilevel converter, even more applications in lower power fields will be realized.

Rufer, Alfred
Lausanne, EPFL

 Record created 2005-03-16, last modified 2018-03-17

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