ADI's Power Conversion Platform SoC boosts safety, reliability, efficiency in renewable energy

May 12, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
Analog Devices has introduced a single-chip, integrated power conversion controller that is designed for next-generation solar power, energy storage, and electric vehicle infrastructure applications. The platform, which includes processing, gate driving, and sensing components, was designed to enable new faster-switching architectures and accommodate increasing safety regulations.

ADI notes the trend for domestic (and larger) scale renewable energy installations – primarily solar – to feed not only into the grid, but into batteries in a car, or in the home. Its latest introduction aims to manage all of these power-flow options. The regulatory and safety requirements on such as system have previously required multiple chips, ADI says; it has configured a part that has achieved certification by TUV, with a single-die design. The IC has two cores, implements extensive redundancy, and also has multiple specific-function-accelerators, so that the processor cores can maintain a supervisory and safety-monitoring role. The chip can direct disconnection of power flows if any parameters or safety limitations are out of range.

 

A specific measurement capability is detection of arcing, and identification of arcing events in the presence of background noise. The spectrum of noise in a system is captured, processed by on-board FFT, and a “known-good” profile fo the noise background of the installation is stored. Then, any anomalies such as arcing can be identified, and acted on. All of the signal processing is done in hardware to relieve the processor cores workload.

 

By integrating ADI’s established iCoupler digital isolation technology with the mixed-signal processor design (ADSP-CM41x), the platform simplifies system design for power inverter manufacturers while also improving system safety and reliability, and helping drive down the cost of renewable energy.

 

Power systems (ADI notes) must be carefully designed to protect the end user from electric shock and the system from physical destruction by isolating current measurement from the power-handling circuitry and transient signals. Traditionally this protection has come at a price as the use of multiple redundant isolated components drives up both cost and system complexity. The ADSP-CM41x processor series features a design that integrates dual-core safety redundancy into a single chip. The ADSP-CM41x is an integral part of the power conversion platform, and is now the first