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Power Train

Digital isolation in hybrid and electric vehicles

October 06, 2010 | Frank Forster | 222901126
Digital isolation in hybrid and electric vehicles Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (HEV/EVs) introduce voltages of 400V and higher in the automotive and transportation area. Operating with such high voltages and currents in a harsh automotive environment drive the need for highly robust but also long term stable solutions for isolating these high voltage levels from the other electronic functions but most important also from the passengers.
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Isolation requirements in transportation

Hybrid and electric drivetrains in cars, trucks and two-wheelers are introducing new, previously unknown challenges in the transportation industry. The 12V board net is now complemented with a 400V or higher battery and power system, which introduces a completely new set of requirements for the car OEMs and system module providers. An isolation need is present in all function of the HEV/EV like the high voltage battery, the DC/DC converter, the inverter for driving the electric motor, but also for the charger module connected to the 230V / 380V power grid - see figure 1.

Figure 1: Typical system architecture for electrical vehicles. For full resolution, click here.

Isolation in the automotive and transportation application area will introduce different requirements compared to the industrial space. It certainly has to be very robust, also against magnetic 'noise'. The high power levels in vehicles (e.g. a 100KW electric engine operated at 400V means currents of 250A) will create strong magnetic fields in the car that have to be handled. But also a long lifetime of the components meeting the vehicle life expectancy, that can reach several decades in the heavy transportation space, has to be ensured. The use in the automotive environment will drive the need for automotive qualification (Q1) and an operating temperature range of -40 to +125ºC.
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