New Partnership to Accelerate GaN Adoption in Chinese EV Market

August 15, 2023 by Mike Falter

GaN Systems has announced a partnership with ACEpower, a leading developer of power supply and EV charging solutions for the Chinese market, to accelerate the adoption of GaN power systems in the Chinese EV market. 

GaN Systems and ACEpower have announced a partnership to collaborate on increasing the adoption of gallium nitride (GaN) power technologies in charging modules, onboard chargers (OBC), and other power conversion applications for the Chinese EV market.

Gallium nitride enables higher-density EV power systems

Gallium nitride enables higher-density EV power systems. Image used courtesy of GaN Systems


The partnership will combine ACEpower’s extensive expertise in power electronics with GaN Systems’ automotive-grade, high-performance GaN transistors to improve EV power systems' size, weight, and efficiency.   

The latest announcement follows the release of GaN Systems’ high-power onboard charger (OBC) reference platform using its GaN devices early this year.  


Scope of the Technical Collaboration

The partnership between GaN Systems and ACEpower will include collaboration on power conversion topology optimization and developing advanced integrated power modules. There will also be work with high-frequency magnetics to create the opportunity for reduced solution sizes and increased power density.

Power systems based on silicon are often heavy, inefficient, and unsuited to modern EVs' requirements. Using the latest GaN technologies, the two companies aim to develop solutions that address these limitations, offering higher frequency circuits that operate more efficiently and have higher power densities – characteristics well-suited to the needs of next-generation OBC, traction inverters, and other EV power systems.

650 V GaN power transistor for OBC applications

650 V GaN power transistor for OBC applications. Image used courtesy of GaN Systems


Higher Voltage EV Powertrains

GaN Systems’ recent work with their 800 V OBC reference platform will be a key starting point for the new partnership. As powertrain voltages migrate to 800 V and higher, power components will need to follow to achieve higher densities and more efficiency. 

Applications beyond ~600 V have traditionally been the realm of silicon carbide (SiC) devices, but solutions like the GaN Systems OBC reference platform open up opportunities for GaN in higher voltage applications.  

Innovations allowing GaN devices to operate at higher voltages are potentially significant as designs can leverage the material’s higher switching speeds to yield even more power density.

In an EV, the OBC converts single or multi-phase AC power from the external charger to the regulated DC voltage needed to charge the battery pack.  

EV onboard charger application

EV onboard charger application. Image used courtesy of GaN Systems


Designing an 800 V OBC using GaN   

According to GaN Systems, their recently released 800 V, 11 kW OBC reference design has 36% higher power density than comparable SiC-based solutions with a bill of materials cost 15% less.  

The AC/DC stage of the OBC reference design can reach peak efficiencies above 99%, while the following isolated DC/DC conditioning circuitry can reach efficiencies over 98%. Higher efficiency means faster charging with less energy lost to the environment. It also means a smaller, lighter form factor since thermal design considerations can be relaxed.

Key to the high voltage OBC design is GaN transistors tested to rigorous AEC-Q standards and mounted on thermally efficient substrates. 

The design also leverages the high-frequency capabilities of GaN to achieve significant size reductions for the magnetics (inductors and transformer) used in the two power conversion stages. Combined with efficiency and high-temperature reliability, the result is more power density and a smaller, lighter form factor.    

800 V, 11 kW OBC reference schematic

800 V, 11 kW OBC reference schematic. Image used courtesy of GaN Systems


Infineon Increases SiC Fab Investments

In related news, Infineon Technologies has announced plans to build the world’s largest 200-millimeter silicon carbide (SiC) power fab at its Kulim, Malaysia manufacturing complex. The company continues to invest aggressively in the growth of wide bandgap technologies (GaN and SiC) to support global decarbonization initiatives.   

In March, GaN Systems signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by Infineon Technologies for $830 million, but the acquisition still needs to be completed.