An Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis assistant professor has invented a new class of power inverter that could put cheaper and more efficient renewable energy products on the market. Professor Afshin Izadian, a researcher at the Richard G. Lugar Center for Renewable Energy at IUPUI, has invented a power inverter that employs just a single switching transistor and generates infinite-level voltages.
Power inverters are at the heart of several renewable energy technologies. Solar power, battery storage, electric vehicles, motor drives and manufacturing robots all use inverters to generate AC power efficiently. However, the current inverters with multiple switching transistors generate limited voltage levels, are heavy, generate unwanted harmonics (voltage frequencies) and require filters to reduce the harmful effects to the electric grid.
Izadian's invention, the result of a creative reconfiguration of an electrical circuit during a laboratory experiment, would make inverters cheaper, lighter and therefore more efficient than current models. While studying how voltage levels and polarities are created in inverters, he made his discovery.
Not only did the bench test work, it led to the discovery of several other circuits and controllers for high-power inverters with lower switching loss, higher voltage performance and lighter reconfigured circuits. For example, unwanted harmonics are greatly reduced with Izadian's invention. This means car manufacturers can reduce the size and insulation of traction motors so that electric vehicles can be made cheaper. The size and weight of the power electronics can also be reduced, which can boost fuel economy in hybrid cars and buses. Such advantages translate into wider adoption of green technologies and more affordable renewable energy for homes, vehicles and businesses.