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Power Converter Retrofit Solutions

Obsolescence of key components, such as IGBT modules, can cause serious problems for the train operator. AmePower and Amantys Power Electronics Ltd have collaborated on a project to cost effectively upgrade traction converters to use more modern components and protect against future obsolescence.

By Juan Munoz (AmePower) and Bryn Parry (Amantys Power Electronics Limited) 

Introduction

Train operating companies require their assets to have a long lifetime of at least 20 years. During the 20 year life of an electronic component assembly the part may wear out, suffer supply chain problems or become obsolete. Usually at the time spare parts are required, they are no longer available or become prohibitively expensive to source.

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Upgrading high power converters is usually considered to be something that only the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) can undertake. However, AmePower and Amantys Power Electronics Limited have collaborated on a project to upgrade the IGBT modules and the gate drives in a traction converter to provide a cost effective solution for the operating and maintenance department of the train operator.

The Solution

Amantys Power Electronics Limited has been working on intelligent gate drives that can be configured by the manufacturer or the end user. The configuration of the gate drive is typically used to enable optimization of the electrical characteristics of the gate drive and the IGBT module to achieve the lowest switching losses in the target power stack for the constraints of stray inductance and voltage overshoot allowable.

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Conclusion

Traction converters can be retrofitted cost effectively, saving the train operator money when trying to source end of life or near obsolete components.

The inclusion of newer IGBT technology and optimization of the switching performance of the IGBT module has reduced the overall operating temperature of the power converter, saving power and extending the lifetime of the converter.

The security of supply is improved as newer IGBT modules can be sourced and incorporated into a legacy traction converter and the gate drive configuration process can be repeated if necessary.

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