Providing hands-on experience to students on inverter controllers and their industrial applications in test benches
Team members: Thomas D'hondt, Yves Mollet and Mathieu Sarrazin
The control of power electronics is a challenging topic requiring an in-depth knowledge of both the motor and inverter hardware, as well as the controller software. Through this project, we aim to set up a direct collaboration with students in order to provide them the tools to get hands-on experience with these topics. The creation of a demonstration setup through internships and master theses will enable to form a sustainable interaction with university partners. Amongst the studied topics, the influence of inverter control on efficiency and NVH characteristics, as well as the combination of inverters with system simulation models are of particular interest.
As a first step in this project, we plan to reproduce a scaled-down version of a test bench available in our offices. It consists in a dual motor setup, where one machine is acting as a motor and the second one is acting as a generator, both shafts being mechanically coupled to one another. In this setup, one motor is controlled in closed-loop speed control, whereas the second motor is using a torque controller (Figure 1).
This setup will serve as a good base for the study of motor control algorithms and their influence on the overall performance of the system. It can also be combined with simulation models running on the host PC, which are able to provide both the reference torque and speed for the motor controllers. One possible application of such a setup is the validation of motors used in electrical vehicles: the torque-controlled motor represents the vehicle drivetrain and the speed-controlled motor is used to emulate the load of vehicle wheels and the road (Figure 2). Alternatively, the drivetrains of electrical bikes and the propulsion of drones can also be validated using such a setup.
Possible extensions for future student projects include the study of vehicle battery and E-motor emulators, through the combination of the highly dynamical TAPAS converter and our in-house accurate simulation models. Also, grid-tied solar inverter with harmonic compensation can make great use of the high switching frequency of the TAPAS boards. Finally, the control of different type of motors and controller architectures can be studied, including and SRM, IM, PMSM, DC and BLDC.
This project will exploit our long running and well-proven collaboration with university labs in order to set up internships and master thesis with interested and motivated students. As a first step, our team will first get familiar with the platform, which should improve the quality of the follow-up we can provide. Students will then gradually be involved in the project and handle several tasks, including the sizing and selection of the motors, the design and construction of the mechanical assembly, the implementation of inverter controllers, the interfacing of the system to the host computer and so forth. Our target is to obtain first a solid base setup, which can later be modified and improved. Students participating in this challenging project will gain valuable experience in the domain of inverter control and the design of industrial test benches.
How many boards & outlooks
For the planned setup, two boards are required, one handling the torque control and the other one handling the speed control. Depending on the outcome of this project, our activities could be scaled in the future in order to study the topics proposed as an extension and to increase the number of students involved in the project.