ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
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Electronics

Building a single-phase converter for airplanes

Ruxi Wang (Photograph by Dave Franusich)

Graduate student Ruxi Wang

In cooperation with Rolls Royce, the Center for Power Electronics Systems (CPES) has developed a new single-phase ac-dc converter technology with a high-power density suitable for use in airplanes. Although most conventional high-power ac-dc converters are three-phase, airplanes sometimes use multiple single phase converters to enable redundant operation if one should fail. However, standard single-phase converters have a large bulk capacitor to smooth out the natural waveform of single-phase ac power.

To reduce the bulk capacitor size, CPES has added additional small converters to the converter’s output that alternately absorbs and boosts the output energy complementary to the input power pulsation. This active method of ripple power management greatly reduced the total size of the converter, boosting power density.