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Preview: PCIM Europe 2014

Tim Fryer looks forward to the upcoming PCIM exhibition and conference, taking place in Nuremberg from 20 to 22 May.

Power is a critical part of any design. It is no surprise, therefore, that a dedicated event has sprung up and delivers, year on year, an interesting stomping ground for those interested in power electronics.

With no comparable event in the UK, British engineers inevitably have to travel for such an event as PCIM, but the efficiency of Nuremberg's subway system, providing an easy link between airport and exhibition centre (Nuremberg Messe), means this is a trip that can be done in a day, if time is of the essence.

Alternatively, an overnight stay gives a chance to enjoy the city's medieval delights – it really is one of those places that business visitors want to return to at their leisure.

However, there is plenty to occupy the engineer's attention at PCIM, with the show addressing four main sectors: power electronics; intelligent motion; renewable energy; and energy management.

In 2013, there were almost 400 exhibitors and nearly 8000 visitors. Of these, 36% came from overseas and 7% of these were from the UK. A few nimble fingered moments with a calculator reveals that about 200 engineers visited, which can be read in one of two ways. One is that it is a small number, but big enough to show that PCIM is of relevance. The other is that if you were one of that hardy bunch, then you have gained information to which relatively few of your peers had access – you are ahead of the game!

Conference programme
So what is the information that brings competitive advantage? Possibly the best place to start is the conference, which attracted 726 delegates last time out. At €1340, the full three day ticket is not cheap, but it does give access to 10 tutorials, six seminars and 235 papers – all, incidentally, in English.

In his conference programme introduction, general conference director Leo Lorenz describes what to look out for this year. "There is a special focus on technologies for future energy supply systems, e-mobility and advanced power converters driven by efficiency and power density. The drivers for these applications include advanced power semiconductor devices, new materials to improve device and system reliability, and ideas on managing parasitic effects in the circuit set up."

Conference highlights include three keynote speeches on: 'Progress in power semiconductor devices and applications'; 'Ultra high voltage SiC power devices and their impact on future power delivery system'; and 'Power electronics – a key technology for the effective deployment of electric vehicles in a low carbon society'. There are also special sessions on 'HVDC' and 'Designing packages for fast switching'.

Visitor forums
On the first day (Tuesday 20 May), the European power electronic research network ECPE and EU-projects, which support the idea of European Power Electronics Leadership, will join an industry forum. Within the Horizon 2020 programme, the EU provides €4.8billion of funding, part of which is being used for a leading European role in power electronics. Simona Rucareanu, ENIAC JU will give an overview of the programme and will present the funding opportunities for power electronics in Europe.

On the second day, the visitor forum will turn to such topics as advantages of using silicon compared to silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) technologies in inverter and energy supply applications. Representatives from ABB, Cree, EPC, Infineon, International Rectifier, Mitsubishi, Semikron, ST Microelectronics, Toshiba and Transphorm will participate at this panel discussion.

The detailed conference programme, as well as the schedule of forums, exhibitor presentations and an up to date list of exhibitors at PCIM, can be found at www.pcim-europe.com. The conference needs to be booked in advance.

Fast recovery diodes
ROHM is demonstrating a broad line up of reliable fast recovery diodes that will include two new series to the standard balance and soft recovery types. The low Vf RFNL series features ultra low Vf and soft recovery, and is suitable for power applications of 200W and 300W, such as TVs, PCs and white goods. The new RFV series has been developed with a high speed switching and hard recovery behaviour, supporting high wattage applications such as UPS power, power conditioner and industrial modules.

Energy storage device
LS Mtron will be showing its LS Ultracapacitor – an energy storage device that is positioned between conventional electrolytic capacitor and rechargeable battery, and is aimed at uses in power units, power compensation as well as energy storage.

Small transducers
The challenge of providing small and low cost current transducers with better performance, has been addressed by LEM, which has introduced the HO and HLSR series of current transducers. It claims these open-loop Hall-effect devices approach the performance offered by closed-loop current transducers, but at a significantly lower price.

LED drivers
Power Integrations, exhibiting on the CONCEPT stand, will be showing four new reference designs, for high line and low line PAR30 and PAR38 LED bulbs made by CREE, that use the LYTSwitch4 LED driver family. These drivers deliver accurate output current regulation, reducing the need for over design to meet minimum luminescence requirements.

SiC based product
Vincotech will be unveiling new SiC based products for ultra efficient, high-frequency operation in solar inverter, UPS and battery management applications.

HiPak IGBT module
ABB Semiconductors is releasing its new 3.3kV dual 500A HiPak IGBT module for low inductive inverter designs.

Diode family
Cree is releasing its CPW5 diode family in a discrete package. The C5D50065D Schottky diode is rated for 650V blocking voltage and a forward current of 50A and temperatures of up to 130°C. Non-repetitive surge resistance has been measured as high as 2000A for a 10µs pulse. The diodes enable MegaWatt power systems to take advantage of the cost reduction, high efficiency, system simplicity and reliability of SiC technology.

GaN packaging
GaN Systems is introducing its GaNPX packaging that offers high current density, optimal thermal performance, low inductance and low profile.

IRAM modules
International Rectifier claims its new generation of IRAM modules improve thermal and electrical performance, increase system efficiency and enable higher power designs in the same footprint. The devices are optimised for operation at either 6kHz or 20kHz.

IR is also expanding its family of uIPM modules with a new product line that takes the power level up to 300W in a cost effective packaging technology. IR's solutions for automotive including advanced COOLiR technology and demonstrations of IR's GaN-based power device platform, GaNpowIR will also be featured.

Author
Tim Fryer

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