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SiC transistors boost inverter efficiency

Posted: 21 Jan 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:solar inverter  SiC transistor  efficiency boost 

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Germany claims it has achieved record efficiency for its inverter designed for PV generators. Key to the high efficiency are Silicon Carbide (SiC) power transistors from U.S. vendor Cree Inc.

Fraunhofer ISE is so far the first user for these innovative power transistors, explained Bruno Burger, head of the power electronics group at the institute. "SiC transistors switch faster and show less forward resistance, compared to conventional components," Burger said. Hitherto, SiC components were used mostly to produce white LEDs.

The inverter, designed for a power range of up to 5kW, is characterised by an efficiency of 98.5 per cent, the institute claims.

Besides the SiC MOSFETs, a novel inverter topology dubbed Heric was responsible for the high efficiency. Heric, for which a patent is pending, improves the efficiency by one percentage point, Burger said.

The institute plans to license the technology to industrial customers, Burger explained. However, the production will depend greatly on the availability of the semiconductors, which presently are only in the prototype state.

- Christoph Hammerschmidt
EE Times Europe

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