Power Electronics

Led by Siemen’s AG, the NanoHex nanofluids will be applied to the cooling system of Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors (IGBT), the power electronics modules used for the traction of high speed trains.

Power electronics control of the flow of power, shaping the supplied voltage by means of semiconductor devices such as IGBTs. Power electronics can help to increase the energy efficiency of equipment and processes that use electrical power and thus, the development boundaries of large electric drives are being continuously pushed to produce more powerful, reliable, durable, smaller, lighter, and less
costly power electronics products.

In order to ensure that IGBT modules can fulfil an operational lifetime of 30 years, factors such as volume, power density, costs, reliability and operating temperatures are carefully considered in the design for railway and automotive traction.

However, during this lifetime IGBT modules suffer great variations in temperature, particularly during operation. This can create stresses within the power electronics package which can reduce heat transfer from the chips, increase heat loads and decrease electrical efficiency.

Current liquid cooling systems are limited as to how efficiently they may transfer heat without looking to increase in size or incorporate active refrigeration. Not a desirable option from a cost and reliability perspective. By up-scaling the manufacture of an effective nanofluid coolant and constructing a demonstrator IGBT and cooling system, NanoHex hopes to illustrate how the increased thermal transfer capabilities provided by a nanofluid coolant would significantly enhance the cooling process and improve the module design to impart several long term benefits to reliability and durability, as well as provide significant energy and cost savings.