nominated for the PCB Design Award
Eco power electronics
The innovative layout of the Ginzinger power electronics "electrostatic precipitator" could qualify for the PCB Design Award 2022 of the Fachverband für Design, Leiterplatten- & Elektronikfertigung (FED). The eco-design of an electrostatic precipitator for exhaust gases from biomass plants was submitted. The award ceremony will take place on September 29, 2022 at the FED conference in Potsdam (D).
Power electronics for electrostatic filters in biomass plants
"Electrostatic filter", or less elegantly "SC-HV" is the name of the newly designed power electronics at Ginzinger electronic systems. This is a 30kv/100W switched-capacitor high-voltage generation for electrostatic precipitators in biomass plants. This can be used to filter pollutants from exhaust gases. This is a topic that will gain importance in the near future: The fact that stricter exhaust gas regulations for manufacturers of biomass boilers are to be introduced shortly prompted Ginzinger electronic systems a few years ago to realize an electronic assembly for this application. The high unit costs, caused by cost-intensive components in the power electronics, required a redesign. The goal was to achieve a massive cost reduction and to optimize the producibility.
Electronics in power engineering
Existing technologies combined in a new way
DI Alfred Fuchs, hardware development at Ginzinger electronic systems took on the assembly in 2022. The main challenges for the power electronics were the voltage ratios (24 V input voltage, 30,000 V output voltage), the measurement circuits and the insulation, which had to be mastered. The trick in the new design was initially to implement the approximately 1,000 high-voltage capacitors required as plate capacitance directly in the circuit board. The capacitance of these capacitors had to be maximized. This leads to a considerable cost reduction, since the expensive, discrete high-voltage capacitors are completely eliminated.
To save as much space as possible, a simple Euro-board format (100 x 160 mm) was selected, which has eight layers. To maximize board capacity, polyimide cores were incorporated into the standard FR4 board by the PCB manufacturer. Polyimide is typically used in flex and rigid-flex boards. For the electrostatic precipitator assembly, the material or technology was repurposed. In two thin layers, it forms the dielectric for the main capacitance between the layers. The compactness of the PCB posed major challenges in terms of creepage distances and thickness requirements stipulated by relevant standards. Heat dissipation of the board was also a major challenge. This problem was solved by means of numerous milled lands. Due to further optimizations, these are also no longer necessary in the series product.
Around two-thirds cost savings
The second, essential element of this smart board design is based on the use of GaN (gallium nitride) FETs. The high-voltage cascade of highly agile GaN FETs and plate capacitors is operated in the tens of MHz range. The advantage of this FET technology over standard silicon FETS is its much higher switching frequencies and small size.
The circuit is built completely without cost- and space-intensive coils and transformers. The high number of components for the diodes required in the circuit was reduced by means of multiple diode arrays.The clever combination of proven technologies and materials led to the innovative and economical solution "electrostatic precipitator assembly" from Ginzinger electronic systems. Thanks to the design, around two thirds of the costs for materials and production can be saved.
"The creative use of essentially standard flex PCB materials combined with state-of-the-art wide-gap power electronics enables a novel solution approach whose cost structure is factors superior to previous products."
This combination also convinced the jury of the PCB Design Award 2022 of the FED (Fachverband für Design, Leiterplatten- & Elektronikfertigung), which nominated the design in the category "Simply Ingenious". The PCB Design Award (PCB = printed circuit board) honors the achievements of PCB designers in German-speaking countries and forms a bridge between electronics development - and manufacturing.
Hardware developers lay the foundation for an optimized and cost-effective series production of electronic assemblies already in the layout. A well thought-out layout means important time and cost savings in production. The jury, consisting of experienced PCB designers and electronics experts from industry and research, will select the winners in several categories on September 29 during the 30th FED Conference in Potsdam/Germany. We wish Alfred Fuchs good luck for September 29, 2022 and keep our fingers crossed for him!
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