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Fast model predictive control, hybrid multilevel inverters: two ways to improve the performance of power electronics systems


S. Mariéthoz

Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, Invited seminar

Power electronics is the key technology that enables some important changes visible at different levels of our technology based society. The integration of renewable energy and storage in power grids, the development of new reliable power systems, of more efficient transportations systems and of more complex lighter portable electronics devices rely on efficient power electronics systems.

In this context, the presentation highlights some past and recent research that has aimed at improving dynamic performance and/or energy efficiency of several power electronics systems. It is motivated and illustrated by several application examples where the investigated techniques have been successfully applied.

The first part of the presentation focuses on the constrained optimal control of power electronics systems. Most approaches employed for controlling these systems have been based on classical continuous time approaches (or their discrete equivalent) that do not handle constraints. This is not suitable for new applications with high performance requirements. In contrast, model predictive control handles constraints, which generally allows obtaining better performance. The gain is particularly pronounced when the system dynamics are fast and when constraints become active. Over the past few years, several fast model predictive control techniques have been introduced that enable reducing the sampling times by several order of magnitudes down to a few microseconds on today's low cost DSPs or fractions of microseconds on today's low cost FPGA devices. These fast model predictive control techniques are very attractive and suitable to systematically and reliably implement high performance controllers for power electronics systems.

Building-up on one of the examples of the first part, the second part of the presentation moves the focus on the design of medium voltage power electronics systems. With today's semiconductor devices, classical power conversion structures feature high switching losses, such that it is preferable to employ multilevel power conversion structures. The bottlenecks of some power conversion structures are shown as well as the expected benefits of using hybrid multilevel inverter structures. The presented structures will have potential applications in traction, renewable energy production and storage, with the objective of reducing system losses and improving power quality, which will become of paramount importance for the development of tomorrow's transportation and power systems.


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