There’s a new inverter in town, EV fans, and that’s big news, even though you might not realize it. Most of us know very little about what drives an electric car, just like most of us can’t explain how all those pistons pumping up and down inside an engine internal combustion engines turn the wheels. Our knowledge is limited to “pressing the right pedal makes the car go forward, while pressing the left pedal stops it”.
Oh sure, we understand on some basic level that there is a battery and it stores the electricity that spins an electric motor, but there’s a little more to it. There are battery management systems that monitor individual cells and modules to ensure they remain at the correct temperature, systems to heat and cool the battery, and systems that harvest electricity and feed it back into the battery when an electric vehicle slows down.
One of the essential components for the operation of an electric car is called an inverter. What does it do? For the answer, we turn to Electric vehicle technology for the answer.
“An inverter converts the DC load from the battery to AC to drive the electric motor, and also times the switching changes to adjust the frequency of the AC load to control the speed of the motor, much like a power system does. fuel injection and ignition in a combustion engine.The faster and more efficient the inverter, the more efficient the vehicle as a whole and the greater the amount of range that can be extracted from the battery.
Most of us wouldn’t know an inverter if it bit us, but it turns out it’s a pretty important part of an EV powertrain. Equipment brand, based in the UK, has just announced a brand new, next-generation inverter that uses silicon carbide technology which it says can make an EV more efficient. The new inverter was developed at its headquarters in Norfolk, England, where the company manufactures electric vehicle components for automotive OEMs and specialist supercar manufacturers. It produces everything from industry-leading electric motors to power electronics systems to complete EV drivetrains.
Traditionally, electric vehicles used Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT) inverters that can switch current up to 20 kHz. Silicon carbide (SiC) inverters offer significant improvements, with higher power levels, lower power losses, and improved overall efficiency. Equipmake’s new HPI-800 inverter can switch current up to 40 kHz.
In addition to offering significant power and efficiency gains, SiC inverters are smaller and lighter, allowing engineers and designers to take advantage of aerodynamic and packaging improvements and reduce the amount of cooling necessary for a vehicle. Their lightweight construction also transforms the power-to-weight ratio from 40 kW/kg for contemporary IGBT technology to 100 kW/kg with SiC. Ian Foley, Managing Director of Equipmake says Electric vehicle technology:
“The initial cost of a SiC inverter is more than offset by the additional performance benefits. In a typical high-performance electric sports sedan, the associated efficiencies can reduce battery size by at least 10%, or around 40-50kg. Although they can be twice as expensive as IGBT versions, they can reduce battery size by such an amount that the cost savings more than pays off for the inverter itself. At the same time, the increase in efficiency and performance that technology can bring to an electric vehicle will enhance its natural appeal to customers.
“HPI-800 offers huge potential benefits for all types of electric vehicle powertrains, just in terms of reducing the battery size required. Factor in its compactness and light weight, and OEMs have even more reason to choose SiC for their next inverter.
The HPI-800 inverter weighs 12.7 kg and delivers a maximum continuous output power of 400 KW, depending on the motor it powers. It is available now and can be ordered in production runs of up to thousands of units.
For the past few years, gearheads would open the hood to ogle the twin carburetors of the new Belchfire 5000. Soon they’ll be opening the hood of the new Electrica 5000 and exclaiming, “Dude, look at this. These things have an HPI-800! Sic transit gloria.
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