Electric-vehicle charger packs 2.6 kW/l, >97% efficiency, with GaN switches

February 09, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
Automotive electronics company Hella, in collaboration with gallium nitride semiconductor maker GaN Systems and charging technology researchers at Kettering University’s Advanced Power Electronics Lab (Flint, Michigan, USA), have developed a Level-2 electric vehicle (EV) charger prototype with efficiencies exceeding 97% at an “unprecedented” 2.6 kW/l power density.

Prior to this achievement, Level-2 EV chargers – according to the collaborators – reached maximum efficiencies of 94%. Using GaN Systems’ 60A, 650 V GS66516T switches in a two-stage architecture, the Kettering University research team , led by Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, Dr. Kevin Bai, were able to increase the wall-to-battery efficiency to more than 3% greater than previously obtained.

Dr. Bai and his team are known for collaborating with companies to help advance their charging technology. Commenting on the importance of this development, Dr. Bai said, “The switching performance we observed with the GaN Systems’ parts was marvellous. Using these devices our power electronics exhibited a power density greater than 2.6 kW/l. This is a significant milestone with important implications for charging electric vehicles, among other charging applications.” Dr. Bai characterised this development as a ‘game changer’ for the EV charging industry.

Hella’s Manager of Advanced Engineering, Matt McAmmond, added, “The results of this collaboration are equally gratifying and commercially important, because they provide HELLA with a path to ultra-compact and lighter EV charger designs. In addition to benefiting HELLA and our customers, this development also has a positive environmental impact, as it represents another step toward the global effort to reduce power consumption.”

Julian Styles, GaN Systems’ director of sales and marketing for the Americas, remarked, “Hella and Kettering University’s ultra-compact, ultra-efficient EV chargers clearly demonstrate how the performance of gallium nitride contributes to the development of important new designs.”

GAN Systems; www.gansystems.com