Technical Article

Optimize your Power Converters with Faster Lighter Cheaper and More Efficient Designs

May 28, 2019 by Guillaume Fontes

This article highlights Power Design Technologies PowerForge computer-aided engineering solution dedicated to the design of power converters.

Thanks to its fast, robust and intuitive software design solution, The Tom Thumb of power electronics: Power Design Technologies knows no bounds when it comes to new applications and markets. Its proprietary software: PowerForge offers the most powerful power converter design tool available to optimize trade-offs in various fields (naval, wind, photovoltaic, manufacturing, shipping, electric cars, aeronautic, storage systems...) and as you will see in this article in MV drive applications.


Optimize your Power Converters with Faster, Lighter, Cheaper, and More Efficient Designs


Don’t you live in the kingdom of power electronics and its auto-cratic regime?

Power converters are ubiquitous in all industrial power electronics fields. Obviously not every application will have the same set of challenges, yet power converter design has become a key expertise, no matter what the end-industry is. And no matter what your end-industry is, you are surely facing the four sacred dimensions of trade-off when you design power converters: mass, volume, loss, cost; and the absolute rule of specs: reduce at least one of them! Don’t you


The Tom Thumb of Power Electronics found a solution to change the rules!

Building on a small and agile team of 7 high profile power electronics experts that cumulate more than a 100-year experience, Power Design Technologies is an electrical engineering software publisher specialized in power electronics that was founded in 2016.

The following year, it completed a €600,000 seed funding round with technology investors. Since then, after signing an international distribution agreement with Powersys, it has been gradually establishing its position as a dynamic innovator with an imaginative integrated software solution for the design of high-performance electric power converters, enabling lighter and smaller product development while ensuring greater affordability, efficiency and reliability.


Find your way around the constraints of designing power converters in all applications!

Power Design Technologies’ cutting-edge power electronics approach and decades of research and process expertise come together in Power Design Technologies design software solution: PowerForge suitable for a wide range of industrial applications whenever energy converters need to be more compact, more efficient, more reliable and more affordable.

PowerForge is the very first computer-aided engineering solution dedicated to the design of power converters for energy-transition-related applications: solar PV inverters and associated storage systems, electric vehicle fast chargers and motor drive inverters....


Figure 1: Influence of the increase of the number of levels on the cur-rent THD and the voltage overshoots
Figure 1: Influence of the increase of the number of levels on the current THD and the voltage overshoots


An Example: Starting with Medium Voltage Variable Speed Drive Design...

Power conversion systems demand efficient and reliable drives. Variable speed drives are used in a wide range of applications in industry such as in wind turbines, mining, marine... and transports. Demand for these drives has been growing for a few years, especially at the megawatt level (i.e. at the medium voltage level), due to the increasing need for efficient motor control because of rising energy prices and environmental concerns. In this context, a major use case is the retrofit of an existing Medium Voltage motor originally powered straight from the grid.

In this case, the introduction of a variable speed drive is very interesting because:

  1. it saves a motor replacement: current inrush peaks are eliminated. The motor speed gradually goes up by increasing output voltage hence avoiding peak demand charges.
  2. it increases the operating efficiency: MV drives enable greatly improved control accuracy and efficiency in your process compared to Low Voltage drives.
  3. it increases safety: In response to load, MV drives provide appropriate power usage based on actual demand and consumes only the energy to drive the attached equipment hence providing the required energy savings.

But you know that as it used to be a motor powered straight from the grid, you need to be very careful about the stress of the motor windings in MV drives. When you are exploring design solutions for MV drives, many questions are raised:

- Which topology fits better to my application?

- Depending on the number of voltage levels, which power-switch?

- What about the switching frequency?

In most of cases, the use of 3-level inverters (such as NPC or T-type topologies) is already a well-established solution. But what about going to the next level(s)?


Figure 2: Comparison charts for different topologies in PowerForge (efficiency vs specific power, mass and cost breakdown)
Figure 2: Comparison charts for different topologies in PowerForge (efficiency vs specific power, mass and cost breakdown)


...What about taking MV drives to the next level?

To preserve the motor’s windings from excessive current harmonics and voltage overshoots, this often requires a bulky and costly output sine filter. However, further increasing the number of levels (to 5 for example) can change the game, first by reducing the current harmonics, which leads to significant filter downsizing.

Besides, fast voltage transitions caused by the PWM waveform may cause voltage spikes that degrade the insulation of the motor winding. Sometimes, voltage transitions are slowed down by increasing the gate resistance of the switches, but the overall efficiency is affected. Here again, multilevel solutions reduce the voltage step, thus reducing the spike amplitude.

At last, it also opens options such as the use of cheaper low-voltage IGBT modules.


PowerForge could help you find your way to the next level of MV drives!

Our design software: PowerForge allows MV drives design trade-off from 100kW to more than 100MW and from 3.3 up to 13.8kV voltages while ensuring high efficiency, better affordability and smaller and lighter product development.

Thanks to its fast and intuitive automated design generation of 3 to 7 (and more...) multilevel topologies, to its broad library of devices and materials and its instant comparison mass, volume, loss, cost comparison, you are able to explore 3 to 7 level topologies efficiency and cost in a few minutes to allow further reduction of currents harmonics (THD) and voltage overshoots – which leads to significant filter downsizing.


A final taste of our bread crumbs?

Take the path to the next level of power converter design with PowerForge! Do you share our ambition to bring energy conversion to the next level? Now is the time to join us and start exploring the next level power converter design!

PowerForge is a powerful platform for designing, exploring and comparing power converter designs allowing optimized technico-economic trade-offs at an early stage. Thanks to multidisciplinary integration, PowerForge will bring you a unique tool for designing lighter, smaller and more efficient converters in record time.

Centered-around optimizing your workflow, PowerForge offers a seamless experience from product specification stages to trade-off of most complex topologies including multilevel (3 to 5) and sizing of passive and active components.

With PowerForge, be ready to:

  • Design cutting-edge converters
  • Reduce time-to-market
  • Streamline your design workflow

Visit our website: Power Design Technologies!

Meet us at the crossroads of all Power Electronics:


PCIM Europe 2019!

Power Design Technologies will be present in PCIM Europe 2019! Let’s meet there!

  • Join us in Hall 6 – Booth 6-302 from the 7th to the 9th of May!
  • Register Now for our tutorial “Design methods and tools for Power electronics” presented by Guillaume Fontes and Thierry Meynard, taking place on May the 6th!
  • Find out about “Design trade-off for Medium-Voltage Variable Speed Drives: Sine filter and/or Multilevel Topologies?” with Guillaume Fontes on May the 8th!

Hurry up to get the biggest share!

More info here: Power Design Technologies at PCIM 2019/


About the Authors

Guillaume Fontes is an experience Chief Scientific Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the computer software industry for Electrical Engineering at Power Design Technologies SA. He has two post-doctoral researcher degree form Institut Néel CNRS and Centre National d'Études Spatiales.

Nicolas Videau holds a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at the National Polytechnic Institute of Toulouse and a Master's Degree in Management of Innovation at Toulouse School of Management. Nicolas Videau is the President and CEO of Power Design Technologies SA since October 2016.

Aurélie Cretté is the Head of the Marketing at Power Desgin Technologies SA.He is a former Market Research Manager for a multinational FMCG Company. He has a MS in Management of Climate Change & Sustainable Development.


This article originally appeared in the Bodo’s Power Systems magazine.