In recent years, power conversion systems have evolved towards an increased modularity, mostly due to the related benefits in terms of scalability, product standardisation, ease of maintenance, etc. This is not only true at the plant level, but also inside each sub-element, down to the power semiconductors. In fact, most mid- to high-power converters are now made of standard blocks that are assembled together to form a single large system. In some cases, the number of building blocks can even be in the range of thousands!
This increased modularity also leads to an increased complexity regarding the control of these systems, especially for the hardware that executes the necessary algorithms. In fact, due to performance concerns, the existing control hardware is not much modular nor standardized, but remains highly application-specific and tailored for a given project or product.
Imperix currently develops a communication technology that helps the manufacturers of power converters to simplify their systems by standardizing a part of its control. This involves two main actions. On the one hand, all the communication media (wires, optical fibers, etc.) that connect the power converter systems to the controller(s) are replaced by one single optical fiber. On the second hand, the communication system guarantees an extreme flexibility and scalability, hence leading to reduced engineering efforts, time and costs.
In order to achieve these results, imperix relies on an innovative way to organize the control systems, which become highly modularized and distributed, similarly to how the power stages are now commonly implemented. The key to enabling this distribution of the control in standardized sub-elements is first to guarantee an excellent synchronization of all elements and second to provide a very low-latency communication mechanism between them. These two aspects constitute the key innovation in imperix’s so-called RealSync technology.
Augmenting Ethernet with high-precision time dissemination and low-latency communication mechanisms, imperix creates a real-time communication technology that supports the operation of large-scale power conversion systems.
In practice, this enables the implementation of fast local or global control loops (<100us) at any level across a pyramid-shaped network tree. Besides, thanks to the high-precision synchronization mechanism (<20ns), parallel- or series-connected switches can be operated from anywhere in the network, the same way as for interleaved subsystems.
The early technology development started in 2014 with the support of the TheArk Energy fund. In 2015, imperix has validated, patented and demonstrated the core of this technology. Today, imperix is working towards the full development of this technology as well as its integrations in future products.