The Benefits of SiC MOSFETs in a T-Type Inverter for Grid-Tie Applications

Alexander Anthon, Zhe Zhang, Michael A. E. Andersen, Grahame Holmes, Brendan McGrath, Carlos Teixeira

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It is well known that multilevel converters can offer significant benefits in terms of harmonic performance and reduced switching losses compared to their two-level counterparts. However, for lower voltage applications the Neutral-Point-Clamped (NPC) inverter suffers from relatively large semiconductor conduction losses because the output current always flows through two switching devices. In contrast, the T-Type multilevel inverter has less conduction losses because only a single outer loop switching device is required to connect the converter output to the upper and lower DC buses, albeit at the expense of increased switching losses since these outer switches must now block the full DC link voltage. Silicon Carbide (SiC) MOSFET devices potentially offer substantial advantage in this context with their lower switching losses, but the benefit of replacing all switching devices in a T-Type inverter with SiC MOSFETs is not so clear-cut. This paper now explores this issue by presenting a detailed comparison of the use of Si and SiC devices for a three-level T-Type inverter operating in grid-tie applications. The study uses datasheet values, switching loss measurements and calibrated heat sink thermal measurements to precisely compare semiconductor losses for these two alternatives for a T-Type inverter operating at or near unity power factor. The results show that replacing only the DC bus connection switches with SiC devices significantly reduces the semiconductor losses, allowing either the converter power level or the switching frequency to be significantly increased for the same device losses. Hence the use of SiC MOSFETS for T-Type inverters can be seen to be an attractive and potentially cost effective alternative, since only two switching devices per phase leg need to be upgraded.
Original languageEnglish
JournalI E E E Transactions on Power Electronics
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)2808 - 2821
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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