Archive for October 29th, 2021

Tech Focus: The Electric Vehicle Race to Market

Friday, October 29th, 2021

Three rapidly advancing technologies are driving this collective race towards zero-emission e-mobility: wide-bandgap (WBG) devices, more power-dense batteries, and faster charging capabilities.

In this guest commentary, Hwee Yng Yeo from Keysight Technologies shares her insights into the great EV race.

GaN and SiC wide-bandgap power semiconductors facilitate a host of onboard EV power conversion applications. Image credit: Keysight Technologies.

GaN and SiC wide-bandgap power semiconductors facilitate a host of onboard EV power conversion applications. Image credit: Keysight Technologies.

Since its inception on a paper napkin more than a decade ago, Formula E has evolved rapidly as a motorsport with a mission.

Entertainment aside, this electric streetcar racing’s founding mission is to showcase sustainable mobility to the world, and it has done pretty well.

It’s the only motorsport to have ISO 20121 certification for net zero carbon footprint since its first race in Shanghai in 2014.

Getting the Formula E car into pole-position entails a lot of hardware and software technology to extract maximum efficiency from the electric vehicle’s (EV) powertrain and battery.

For the key automotive OEMs, it’s not just about getting their car across the checkered flag first.

With billions of R&D dollars poured into developing better EVs, the goal of participating automakers goes beyond the championship trophy.

Learnings from these high-intensity races are applied to improve electromobility technologies back in the R&D labs.

Three rapidly advancing technologies are driving this collective race towards zero-emission e-mobility:

  1. wide-bandgap (WBG) devices
  2. more power-dense batteries
  3. faster charging capabilities

Efficient power conversion with WBG devices

A lot of power conversion takes place in the EV.

A DC-DC converter for example, steps down the power from the high-voltage EV battery to 12 V, with further conversions to run onboard systems like lighting, radio, and air-conditioning (see the diagram above).

The author of this article is Hwee Yng Yeo, the industry solutions manager for Automotive and Energy at Keysight Technologies.

The author of this article is Hwee Yng Yeo, the industry solutions manager for Automotive and Energy at Keysight Technologies.

WBG devices such as Silicon carbide (SiC) and Gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductors are used in transistors to facilitate this power conversion throughout the vehicle.

GaN applications are an emerging technology area, and developers find it hard to validate their design for these high-performance power converters.

Increased frequency and higher power affect the reliability of measurements needed to characterise the device’s performance.

It can be hard to distinguish whether the measured signal is the device’s characteristic or caused by the measurement setup.

(more…)