Ideal Power has been pioneering the development and commercialisation of the highly efficient and broadly patented B-TRAN bidirectional semiconductor power switch.
The SymCool Power Module is a multi-die B-TRAN module, rated at 1200V 100A and incorporating double-sided cooling, is designed to meet the very low conduction loss needs of the solid-state circuit breaker (SSCB) market. Modules can be paralleled to achieve a wide range of high power SSCB ratings for utility, industrial and military applications.
The new module exhibits dramatically lower conduction losses compared to IGBTs, thereby allowing for energy savings that are necessary as power grids are modernised. In particular, integration of renewable energy sources and energy storage systems into the grid will require circuit breakers that do not waste the precious energy generated by solar or wind. The low conduction losses of the SymCool Power Module meet this requirement.
In addition to saving energy, the inherent bidirectional capability of the SymCool Power Module means that half as many high-voltage switches are needed compared to implementation with IGBT modules, which need a dedicated switch for each direction of energy flow. Fewer components translate to a smaller, more cost efficient SSCB. As new applications, such as Vehicle-to-Grid, Vehicle-to-Home, and Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2X) emerge with the adoption of electric vehicles, bidirectional functionality is needed.
Renewable energy microgrids and key military applications also require bidirectional circuit breakers that operate quickly, and Ideal Power claims that the bidirectional new module offers numerous advantages for SSCBs in these applications.
“The introduction of our first commercial product marks a pivotal development for Ideal Power’s B-TRAN technology, and we could not be more excited” said Dan Brdar, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ideal Power. “The SymCool Power Module was designed specifically to enable SSCBs to deliver very low conduction losses. B-TRAN-enabled SSCBs are expected to be smaller and more efficient than SSCBs using traditional semiconductor switches while operating orders of magnitude faster than conventional electromechanical breakers. We believe our SymCool Power Module is well-suited for the large, growing circuit breaker market, with the market projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 6 percent to approximately $26 billion by 2027. With clear advantages over electromechanical, IGBT and MOSFET-based breakers, we believe B-TRAN enabled SSCBs are ideal for a range of utility, military and industrial power control applications.”
Another benefit realised by the dual-sided structure of B-TRAN is the advanced module packaging developed to maximise thermal efficiency. The SymCool Power Module has innovative dual-sided cooling with built-in temperature sensing. Heat is dissipated from both the top and bottom surface without wire bonding to meet the ever-increasing demand for reliability, durability and efficiency. This allows for a smaller, lower cost thermal management system, and greater overall efficiency of the SSCB.
Circuit breakers perform critical functions in controlling the flow of electricity and containing high currents created by faults in that flow in a wide variety of applications. In addition to high demand for circuit breakers from renewable energy, microgrids, energy storage, and EV applications, there is tremendous need to upgrade aging infrastructure, including utility transmission and distribution networks and railway systems.
Two critical circuit breaker operating requirements are fast switching and low conduction losses. Traditional mechanical circuit breakers are slow acting and prone to wear and arcing; IGBT and MOSFET-based SSCBs suffer from high conduction losses. The fast-switching speed of B-TRAN solves the slow operating time and electrical arcing of electromechanical circuit breakers while also providing more than 50 percent lower conduction losses compared to SSCBs utilising conventional semiconductor power switches. These result in lower cost and less complex cooling systems, benefits that significantly impact the economics of SSCBs and improve the economics of transmission and distribution.
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