Power electronics technology is used across a wide array of industries. It’s estimated that by 2030, over 80% of electricity will flow through Power Electronic Devices. These devices, which include inverters, converters and rectifiers, convert electricity between forms. They’re used for everything from the milliwatt power requirements of portable appliances to high voltage DC transmission, which involves gigawatts (GW) of power. Traditional thermal solutions are often not capable of meeting performance requirements in harsh or challenging environments, and also struggle when coping with high heat flux; therefore, thermal management becomes a key design consideration.
ACT: The One Source for System-Level Cooling
At ACT, we do much more than provide components for power electronics cooling. Our team can design, qualify and manufacture a complete system sized and developed for your unique needs. With in-house code coupled with commercial FEA and CFD packages, ACT can support quick designs and validation to give you confidence in a given solution. No matter if the thermal solution is air, liquid or two-phase cooling, ACT has the engineering expertise to support your program.
In addition to thermal engineering expertise, ACT also offers a complete array of custom thermal solutions that offer advantages over traditional air and liquid cooling for high-performance power electronics. Through our ISO9001 and AS9100D quality systems, we manufacture simple to intricate thermal solutions for power electronics systems. From enhanced heat sinks dissipating several hundred watts for smaller drives, to high power and high current devices and systems dissipating up to a megawatt of waste heat, and everything in between.
Heat Pipe Assemblies
Heat pipes operate in liquid and vapor phases, taking advantage of the latent heat of vaporization to move heat extremely efficiently across their length. Heat pipe assemblies can provide point-to-point heat transfer to allow for remote heat sinks. Embedded heat pipe designs can efficiently spread heat across long surfaces. Although they are two-phase devices; their effective thermal conductivities are an order of magnitude higher than standard metals used for heat sinks. Heat pipes are proven and fielded in numerous high-power applications and provide long-life operation and system design flexibility. Learn More…
Thermosyphons offer passive, reliable transport similar to heat pipes, except they leverage gravity to return the fluid. By designing thermosyphons in a loop configuration, it eliminates counter fluid flow and increases the power transport capability dramatically. Loop Thermosyphons are frequently used to transport large heat loads to remote heat sinks above the power electronics devices. They can also incorporate flexible lines to make for easy integration into your system. Learn More…
Pumped Two-Phase (P2P) Cooling
This active solution pumps fluid over evaporator cold plates to take advantage of the high heat transfer of boiling. This provides the ability to manage high heat flux and high total power while maintaining uniform temperatures across the power devices. It also leverages dielectric working fluid for added reliability. Pumped Two-Phase Cooling (P2P) provides power electronics integrators with the ability to move heat large distances which can make design and integration at the system level much less demanding. Learn more…
Sealed Enclosure Cooling
For cabinet-level cooling, ACT’s line of sealed enclosure cooling units are designed to fit most power and environmental conditions. This easy, off-the-shelf option circulates air inside a power electronics cabinet, collects heat and transfers to the outside ambient air. The simple designs make these an easy solution to integrate without changing your enclosure design. The NEMA-rated seal will keep your enclosure free of dust and precipitation and can be used in all environments. Learn More…
The Power Electronics Market at Large
Many industries use power electronics devices. A variety of industrial equipment, including those used for electroplating, welding and more, depend on them. In the transportation sector, you can find them in automotive electronics, electric vehicles (EVs), aircraft power systems and more. They play a critical role in the electricity grid and a range of electricity generation technologies. Power electronics devices can also be found in computers, telecommunications devices, numerous residential appliances and a vast array of other types of electronic devices. FPGAs, electro-optics (EO/IR), radar electronics and guidance systems in the avionics industry are all experiencing increases in power densities. Power electronics will only become more crucial as technology continues to advance, and as people continue to use more of these electronic devices.
Power electronics have a central role to play in many emerging technologies such as electric vehicles, the internet of things (IoT) and renewable energy resources, as well as many more traditional electrically powered technologies. A significant amount of energy is lost during the power conversion processes, and it’s estimated that the widespread use of more efficient power electronics technologies could reduce global energy consumption by 35%. These devices can also help to make the energy grid itself more efficient through the implementation of smart technologies. Power electronics technologies will play a crucial role in increasing energy efficiency.
All electronic devices produce waste heat. Due to the large electrical currents and high voltages being transformed in Power Electronics, the amount of waste heat can be extremely high. Thermal management solutions are critical for ensuring that heat is effectively managed and dissipated. This ensures that devices stay within safe operating temperatures, limits failure and increases reliability. Improving heat management also improves efficiency and enables higher power density.
We have experience cooling all types of major power electronic devices, including:
1. Variable Frequency Drives
Variable frequency drives (VFD) are motor controllers that vary the frequency and voltage supplied to an electric motor. VFDs are also called variable speed drives, adjustable frequency drives, adjustable speed drives, microdrives, AC drives and inverters. By adjusting the frequency and voltage supplied to a motor, VFDs adjust the motor’s speed, measured in revolutions per minute (RPMs). If an electric motor does not need to run at full speed in a particular application, a VFD can reduce the voltage and frequency to match the requirements of the application. As motor speed requirements change, a VFD can ramp the motor speed up or down as needed.
2. Bipolar Junction Transistors
A bipolar junction transistor (BJT) is a high-power semiconductor device used for switching or amplification. BJTs are three-terminal devices and work as current-controlled current regulators, meaning they restrict the amount of current that passes according to a smaller controlling current. The three terminals of a BJT are known as the emitter, base and collector.
3. Insulated-Gate Bipolar Transistors (IGBTs)
The insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) is a power switching transistor used in power supply and motor control circuits. It combines some of the benefits of MOSFETs and BJTs. It offers high input impedance and high switching speeds like a MOSFET but also has low saturation voltage like a bipolar transistor. It also has an insulated gate like the MOSFET but offers output performance similar to that of a bipolar transistor. This results in a transistor that is voltage-controlled but also offers the conduction and output switching attributes provided by bipolar transistors.
4. Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor Field-Effect Transistors
A metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) is a kind of transistor used for switching and amplifying electronic signals. In a MOSFET, electrons flow along channels. The width of the channels determines the conductivity of the MOSFET. The wider the channel, the better the device conducts. Gate electrodes control the width of the channels by adjusting the voltage. A thin layer of metal oxide insulates the gate from the channel, and this insulation prevents the current from flowing between the channel and the gate.
Thyristors, also sometimes called silicon-controlled rectifiers (SCRs), are similar in construction to transistors. A thyristor is a four-layer semiconductor device with three PN junctions in series. The three leads in a thyristor are called the anode, cathode and gate. A thyristor is a unidirectional device. Depending on how the gate is triggered, it can operate as a rectifying diode or an open-circuit switch. This means that they operate in the switching mode only and aren’t used for amplification.
6. Power Supplies
Power supplies are components that provide electric power to at least one electric load. They typically convert one kind of electrical power to another and may convert different forms of energy, such as chemical or solar energy, into electrical energy. A power supply may also be referred to as a power adapter, power supply unit, or power brick.
Diodes are semiconductor devices that allow current to flow in only one direction. They have two electrodes — the anode and the cathode. You can use diodes in a variety of ways including as switches, signal demodulators, signal limiters, signal modulators, oscillators, signal mixers, voltage regulators, and rectifiers.