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A Very High-Power Density (60-70 kW/kg) SiC Inverter

Creative Commons 'BY-ND' version 4.0 license

This thesis describes a very high-power density inverter design for a power train that is intended to be used in an all-electric aircraft. The minimum power density for the power electronics for such an aircraft is 50 kW/kg, but this thesis details designs reaching 60 to even 70 kW/kg, even for a multilevel topology inverter. SiC devices were explored in this thesis because wider bandgap materials such as SiC and GaN can operate at higher temperatures, higher power densities, higher voltages, and higher frequencies – making it the most optimal choice for a long-range all-electric aircraft. This thesis also explored numerous multi-inverter topologies to find the most optimal one for the application – ranging from the typical half-bridge to a neutral-point clamped to even a flying capacitor inverter. Thermal calculations were made only for air-cooling; however, future designs aim for liquid cooling for a longer life-time design. Mechanical bus bar work for a prototype and future designs were made on Onshape and presented here. Additional improvements were explored, ranging from incorporating liquid cooling to an extension to soft-switching. A single-phase prototype was made and experimented. The results are presented in this paper. Currently, I am working on improving the prototype with a next iteration of the design, eventually incorporating it with the motor and thermal designs from other projects.

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