Industry's first reconfigurable DC arc detect reference solution detects electrical arc faults to avert fires

March 20, 2013 // By Paul Buckley
Texas Instruments Incorporated has introduced the industry’s first fully programmable DC arc detect reference solution at the Applied Power Electronics Conference (APEC) in Long Beach, California, USA.

The RD-195 makes it faster and easier for designers to address a growing need to safeguard high-power DC systems, such as automobile and aircraft battery management systems, industrial factory equipment, and photovoltaic units, against the catastrophic damage that can result from arc faults. Designers can program the RD-195 to optimize the balance between arc-detection accuracy and false detection prevention to meet their system needs. The RD-195 is accompanied by a software application tool that enables alteration of threshold detection parameters.

The RD-195’s arc detection threshold parameters can be configured using the accompanying software tool so that the system always detects valid arcs, while minimizing nuisance tripping.

The RD-195 detects different types of arcs, including series, parallel and ground arcs. The module is designed to operate in noisy environments with RF interference. Additionally, all signal chain components in the solution operate across the full industrial temperature range of -40 degrees C to +85 degrees C.

The typical response time of the solution is less than 100 ms, which allows the system controller to take quick action, mitigating the consequences of fires caused by arcing.

The RD-195 is certified per the Underwriters Laboratories UL1699B standard, and is listed as a recognized device under UL1998. This helps ease and speed designers’ time to market with a UL-certified product. The module is also compliant with the NEC690.11 solar power safety requirements.

The RD-195 evaluation module (EVM) enables designers to evaluate the RD-195 for a variety of applications. The EVM includes TI’s C2000 Piccolo TMS320F28033 32-bit microcontroller with C28x core and control law accelerator (CLA), one SM73201 16-bit analog-to-digital converter (ADC), three SM73307 dual-channel precision operational amplifiers (op amps), and one SM73308 low noise, rail-to-rail output op amp. Also included are bill of materials, schematic, board layout files, software application tool, firmware licensing agreement, arc detect code with UL1998 models, and application note.

The RD-195 reference solution features a software application tool that allows designers