ECE: Electrical & Computer Engineering
ECE News

Bi-directional IGBTs for PV Systems

Researchers at the Center for Power Electronics Systems (CPES) are on a team that is developing and commercializing photovoltaic (PV) technology that allows standard, grounded PV arrays to operate without a transformer. The new technology will reduce the size and cost of materials, cut manufacturing costs, and improve operating efficiency.

Ideal Power Converters (IPC) is the industry lead on the $2.5 million project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy ARPA-E (Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy) as part of the SunShot effort. CPES and a team from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are developing bi-directional silicon Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) components to support IPC’s converter topology.

The new bi-directional IGBT switches will more than double the power density and slash the cost-per-Watt manufacturing expenses in half compared to conventional IGBTs and diodes. Other applications for the new technology include bi-directional battery converters, bi-directional plug-in electric vehicle converters, wind turbines and variable frequency motor drives.