Reduced Switch Count Multilevel Inverter Topologies for Open End Induction Motor Drives
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MU LT I L E V E L inverters are becoming the preferred choice for medium voltage high power applications. Multilevel inverters have a number of inherent advantages over conventional two level inverters. The output voltage has multiple steps or levels, resulting in reduced dV/dt, which leads to lower electromagnetic interference, making it easier to meet electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) regulations. Multilevel inverters have a much lower effective switching frequency, which leads to a reduction in switching losses. The output voltage of multilevel inverters has a much lower harmonic content. In applications such as power conversion or grid-connection, filters need to be much smaller, or can be eliminated. In motor drive applications, the low harmonic content results in smoother, ripple-free shaft torque. The neutral-point clamped (NPC), cascaded H-bridge (CHB) and flying capacitor (FC) topologies were among the earliest multilevel topologies. NPC topologies require additional clamping diodes to clamp the output to the DC bus midpoint. CHB topologies use a number of isolated DC suplies to generate multilevel output. FC topologies work with a single DC link but use additional floating capacitors. Since then, a number derivatives and improvements to these topologies have been proposed. Topologies with low switch counts are desirable because of the corresponding reduction in system size and cost. A low total component count is also desirable since it results in better reliability. Induction motors in high power applications are often operated in the open-end configuration. Here, the start terminals of the motor phase windings are connected to one three phase inverter, while the end terminals are connected to a second three-phase inverter. The two inverters are typically powered by isolated supplies to prevent the flow of common mode currents through the motor. The open end configuration has a number of advantages It can be used with nearly all high power motors with no need for electrical or mechanical modification, since all six winding terminal are available externally. The two inverters driving the open-end motor are effectively cascaded. As a result, two inverters of lower voltage and power rating can replace a single inverter with higher voltage and power rating. In addition, if one of the inverter fails, it can be bypassed and the system can be operated at reduced power. In many applications such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), the load power is proportional to the cube of the shaft speed, so a 50% reduction in power translates to only 20% reduction in speed, thereby improving overall system reliability. The cascading of inverters also enables multilevel operation, which is exploited for the topologies proposed in this thesis. In the open-end configuration it is important to ensure that both the DC supplies deliver power to the load. Otherwise, power can circulate through the motor windings. In addition, if the two inverters are powered by rectifier supplies, the DC bus of one inverter can charge uncontrollably, resulting in distortion of phase voltages and currents. If DC bus overcharging continues unchecked the DC bus voltage can even exceed the system rating, resulting in permanent damage. This thesis proposes two novel topologies for open-end induction motor drives with low switch counts. Both topologies are powered by two unequal, isolated DC sources having DC voltages in a 3:1 ratio. Multiple levels in the output voltage are obtained using a number of floating capacitors in each phase. Modulation and control schemes are also proposed for both topologies to ensure that DC bus overcharging never occurs, while all the capacitor voltages are kept balanced at their nominal values. The first of these two topologies is a nine level inverter for open end induction motor drives. It consists of two three-level flying capacitor inverters connected to the induction motor in the open end configuration. The two inverters are powered by DC sources of voltage 6VDC/8 and 2VDC/8, which generates an effective phase voltage having nine levels in steps of VDC/8. This topology has only eight switches and two floating capacitors per phase. The space vector structure for this topology is hexagonal, and has 217 space vector locations. A space-vector based formulation is used to determine the pole voltage of the inverter such that DC bus over charging is prevented. In addition, selection of switching states is used to balance the voltages of all floating capacitors. This scheme allows the floating capacitors to be charged up during system startup, thereby eliminating the need for separate pre-charging circuitry. A level-shifted carrier PWM based modulation scheme has been developed, which can be used with both scalar and vector control schemes. The gating signal for switches turning on must be delayed by a small amount (to allow the complementary switch to turn of), failing which current shoot through can occur. This delay is called dead time, during which gate signals to both complementary devices are turned of. Under certain conditions in the flying capacitor topology, the pole voltage can contain large undesirable transients during the dead time which result in phase current distortion, and electromagnetic noise. A novel scheme to eliminate this problem is proposed using a digital state machine approach. The switching state for each subsequent switching interval is determined based on the present switching state such that the pole voltage does not contain a transient, without affecting the phase voltage of the inverter, and irrespective of the current magnitude or direction. The state machine was implemented using an FPGA, and required an additional computation time of just 20ns, which is much smaller than the inverter dead time duration of typically 2.5µs. The second novel topology proposed in this thesis is a seventeen level inverter for an open end induction motor drive. Here, one three-level inverter and one seven-level inverter are connected to the two ends of the induction machine. The three-level inverter is a flying capacitor inverter. The seven-level inverter is a hybrid topology – it consists of an H-bridge cascaded to each phase of a three level flying capacitor inverter. This scheme is also powered by two isolated DC sources in 3:1 ratio with magnitudes 12VDC/16 and 4VDC/16. The effective phase voltage has seventeen levels in steps of VDC/16. This topology has a total of twelve switches and three floating capacitors per phase. The space vector structure for this topology is hexagonal, and has 817 space-vector locations. Space vector analysis was used to determine the pole voltages, and the switching states such that DC bus overcharging is prevented while also balancing the voltages of the floating capacitors. A non-iterative algorithm was developed for determining the switching states, suitable for implementation in digital logic using an FPGA. The scheme is able to charge the all capacitors at startup as well, eliminating the need for separate pre-charging circuits. Hardware prototypes were built for both the topologies described above for experimental verification, and used to drive a three phase 50Hz, 1.5kW, four pole induction motor in V/f control mode. The inverters topologies were built using 1200V, 75A IGBT half-bridge modules (Semikron SKM75GB12T4) with hybrid opto-isolated gate drivers (Mitsubishi M57962). Three phase rectifiers were used to create the asymmetric DC supplies Hall effect sensors were used to sense the DC link and floating capacitor voltages and phase currents (LEM LV20P voltage sensors and LA55 current sensors). Signal conditioning circuitry was built using discrete components. The PWM signals and V/f controller were implemented using a digital signal processor (Texas Instruments TMS320F28335). Synchronous PWM with was used to eliminate sub-harmonics from the phase voltage, and to ensure three-phase and half-wave symmetry. The internal ADC of the DSP was used for sampling all voltages and currents. The remaining digital logic for switch state selection was implemented on a FPGA (Xilinx Spartan3 XC3S200). Dead time functionality was also implemented within the FPGA, eliminating the need for separate dead time hardware. Both topologies were first tested for steady state operation over the full modulation range, and the pole voltages, phase voltages and phase currents were recorded. System startup, and the ability of the controllers to balance all the capacitors at startup was tested next. The capacitor voltages were also observed during sudden loading, by quickly accelerating the motor. Finally, the phenomenon of DC bus overcharging was also demonstrated. These results demonstrate the suitability of the proposed topology for a number of applications, including industrial drives, alternate energy systems, power conversion and electric traction.
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