NI Single-Board RIO GPIC Success Stories: Dynapower Corporation Carbon Battery DC/DC Converters

Publish Date: Aug 11, 2012 | 4 Ratings | 5.00 out of 5 | Print

Overview

Recently Dynapower developed a line of power converters specifically for Grid Tied Energy storage based on the NI LabVIEW Reconfigurable I/O (RIO) architecture and NI Single Board RIO General Purpose Inverter Controller (GPIC). The NI LabVIEW power electronics design platform and FPGA-based NI GPIC enables Dynapower to reduce their development time on power converter designs from 72 weeks to 24 weeks, getting to market with an advanced, high quality product in one-third the time that was required before they had the NI GPIC and LabVIEW tool chain.

Table of Contents

  1. Overview
  2. Design Overview
  3. System Components
  4. Impact of Graphical System Design Approach on Development Cost and Time
  5. Future Applications
  6. NIWeek 2012 Keynote Video
  7. Next Steps

1. Overview

“The LabVIEW tool chain and new NI GPIC development platforms reduced our development cost and risk significantly compared to a full custom controller design. We were able to reduce our development time from 72 weeks to 24 weeks, a 3 times reduction in time to market for advanced, high quality power conversion products. 

FPGA devices in particular, which now include embedded DSP cores inside the fabric, are a real game changer. We can precisely control the flow of power, run multiple control loops in parallel, and reconfigure the hardware at a silicon level even after it’s deployed to the grid.”

— Kyle Clark, Advanced Systems Engineering Manager, Dynapower Corporation

The Challenge:
Advanced carbon batteries for grid storage are a technology of interest because they provide a long life-time, fast charge/discharge and deep cycling capability.  The challenge of these particular batteries from Axion is that they require a unique power conversion and inverter system topology to fully realize the benefits.


The Solution:
This new system provides real and reactive power to the grid to help stabilize the utility with high penetrations of varying generation sources like wind and solar or to compensate for volatile loads.  Several strings of Carbon Batteries are connected on the left side (point to Power Cube), there is a DC/DC converter connected to each string (point to converters) and the common DC link is connected to the inverter which is coupled directly to the grid.  The processing power enables a single FPGA-based controller to manage multiple parallel converters.

 

Figure 1. Dynapower 50 kVA DC-to-DC power converter (above) and SmartPowerStack Consortium 100 kVA power inverter (bottom right) based on the NI General Purpose Inverter Controller (GPIC)

"We were able to cost effectively solve this challenging using modern FPGA based control systems.  We chose the new NI GPIC because, as your introduction indicated, the FPGA platform gives us 40 times more performance per dollar than the traditional DSP processors we had used in the past.  The LabVIEW tool chain and development platforms reduced our development cost and risk significantly compared to a full custom controller design. Low level text based programming and full custom design became a liability and more importantly that previous division produced a roadblock between power engineers and programmers.

We are happy to be basing future designs on a more high level language more readily understandable and accessible to the experts in power conversion."

— Kyle Clark, Advanced Systems Engineering Manager, Dynapower Corporation

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2. Design Overview

For the last 50 years Dynapower Corporation has been producing high voltage, high current power converters for Industrial, Mining and High Energy Physics applications. Dynapower is the leader in efficiently addressing the most complicated challenges in power conversion serving customers like Los Alamos and Oak Ridge. In order to continue this business model they sought out the most advanced digital control technologies to develop their power electronics.

The new NI General Purpose Inverter Controller (GPIC) was used in the development of an advanced multi-string DC-to-DC converter application for Axion Power International carbon-battery grid storage systems. The NI GPIC is based on the NI RIO architecture and provides a specific I/O set to meet the cost and performance requirements of commercial, high volume digital energy systems.

This application provides real and reactive power to the grid to help stabilize the utility with high penetrations of varying generation sources like wind and solar or to compensate for volatile loads.  Several strings of Carbon Batteries are connected on the left side (Power Cube), there is a DC/DC converter connected to each string (converters) and the common DC link is connected to the inverter which is coupled directly to the grid.  The processing power of the NI GPIC field programmable gate array (FPGA) enables a single controller to manage multiple parallel converters.

 

Figure 2. Dynapower DC-to-DC converter topology with strings

 

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3. System Components

 

50 kW DC/DC Converter Power Block

This is not a simple design challenge to solve.  Axion Power came to Dynapower with requirements for controllable current distribution and careful balance between the parallel converters in both utility interactive operation and in a micro grid mode.  A high speed of response is required to seamlessly transfer between the two modes. An FPGA based architecture is able to handle this readily due to hardware parallelism and high speed communication between converters.  The controller manages the inner current loop, outer system loop. Additionally in certain modes the charge and discharge of batteries and maximum power point tracking of a solar connection.


Figure 3. Dynapower 50 kW modular DC-to-DC converter topology and Advanced FPGA-based Power Electronics Controller

 

Advanced Power Electronics Controller

"We were able to cost effectively solve this challenging using modern FPGA based control systems.  We chose the new NI GPIC because, as your introduction indicated, the FPGA platform gives us 40 times more performance per dollar than the traditional DSP processors we had used in the past.  The LabVIEW tool chain and development platforms reduced our development cost and risk significantly compared to a full custom controller design. Low level text based programming and full custom design became a liability and more importantly that previous division produced a roadblock between power engineers and programmers.

We are happy to be basing future designs on a more high level language more readily understandable and accessible to the experts in power conversion."

— Kyle Clark, Advanced Systems Engineering Manager, Dynapower Corporation


Figure 4. With the NI Single-Board RIO GPIC, you can bring grid-tied power electronic systems to market with significantly lower cost and risk. The FPGA-based system is designed to meet the cost, I/O, and performance needs of most high-volume commercial power electronics control applications, including DC-to-AC, AC-to-DC, DC-to-DC, and AC-to-AC converters for smart-grid flexible AC transmission systems (FACTS), renewable energy generation, energy storage, and variable speed drive applications.

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4. Impact of Graphical System Design Approach on Development Cost and Time

"This new platform and method of development changed our development time from 72 weeks to 24 weeks primarily because we used a standard off the shelf platform with proven hardware and the leveraged the ability to co-simulate the LabVIEW FPGA code with the power electronics circuitry before compiling it.  These tools take design to the next level. We can have a 90% confidence factor in a first-of design and minimize hardware iterations during the prototype stage."

— Kyle Clark, Advanced Systems Engineering Manager, Dynapower Corporation

 

Figure 5. With the NI Single-Board RIO GPIC, you can develop your advanced LabVIEW FPGA power electronics control algorithms using desktop co-simulation with NI Multisim, then develop a custom mating board interface using NI Ultiboard, and deploy your commercial grid tied power conversion system using the NI GPIC with a typical development time savings of 114 person-months per design by completing your development in less than half the time with a team that is 2.4 times percent smaller.

Figure 6. Dynapower development cycle using traditional embedded design process involving a conventional DSP board and text based control programming based on high level simulation models

Figure 7. Dynapower development cycle using using the new NI GPIC and graphical system design process, which has enabled Dynapower to achieve a 3X reduction development time

 

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5. Future Applications

"Next steps for grid tied converters include embedded power analysis, autonomos operation, remote communication and control, data aggregation, and a multi-port multilevel AC-to-DC converter to integrate solar, battery charger all through a common DC link.  

This flexibility will enable us o take on a lot of new business. I have a stack of request for proposals (RFPs) on my desk. If we still had to do full custom design, we would have had to pass on many of these.

We are happy to be basing future designs on a more high level language more readily understandable and accessible to the experts in power conversion."

— Kyle Clark, Advanced Systems Engineering Manager, Dynapower Corporation

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6. NIWeek 2012 Keynote Video

Listen as NI Embedded Systems Manager, Jamie Smith, announces new Wilson research results that show on average that NI LabVIEW Reconfigurable I/O (RIO) embedded design teams complete their developments in less than half the time with a team that is 2.4 times smaller than development teams using other tools (average of 114 person-month savings per design).

Jamie explains the technologies that are enabling a revolution in digital energy control systems and NI's commitment to providing best-in-class design and test tools for power electronics. Jamie then announces the NI Single-Board RIO General Purpose Inverter Controller (GPIC), which enables a revolutionary new embedded system design approach for rapid commercial deployment of advanced, field-reconfigurable digital energy conversion systems.

Next, Dynapower Corporation's Kyle Clark, Advanced Systems Engineering Manager, talks about how the new NI GPIC was used in the development of an advanced multi-string DC-to-DC converter application for Axion Power International carbon-battery grid storage systems. The NI LabVIEW power electronics design platform and FPGA-based NI GPIC enables Dynapower to reduce their development time on power converter designs from 72 weeks to 24 weeks, getting to market with an advanced, high quality product in one-third the time that was required before they had the NI GPIC.

Video: NI Announces the sbRIO General Purpose Inverter Controller (GPIC), Dynapower explains results for DC-to-DC carbon-battery converter

 

 

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7. Next Steps

Order the NI Single-Board RIO GPIC Evaluation Kit

Watch an introductory webcast on GPIC

Join the Power Electronics Development Community (ni.com/powerdev)

Chat with a Dynapower representative about your custom power conversion design needs

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