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Safe Fieldbus dEvelopment for Power Electronic Module

Final Report Summary - SAFEPEM (Safe fieldbus development for power electronic module)

Executive summary:

SAFEPEM followed the aerospace industrial trend to foster 'more electric aircraft' in order to improve the control of electrical power energy generation and finally reduce the fuel consumption by reduction of weight and more effective use of resources. Contributing to those higher-level Cleansky Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) goals, SAFEPEM aimed to significantly improve the currently existing Power System Control by offering the provider of such system an increased flexibility of design. This was achieved by using a deterministic approach for the power control system internal data communication system implementing an innovative power control manager. This approach implemented a robust, reliable and scalable system architecture allowing a flexible implementation in many aircraft platforms with minimised modifications required. Thus every time the application engineer engages the Cleansky SAFEPEM approach in his design, significant shares of design effort required so far will be saved resulting in cost reduction and finally offering an opportunity to reduce the price of the system. As a consequence, supplying such novel system will improve competitiveness compared to competing systems. On the other hand, the new design approach allows handling today's required high power density, which is not possible satisfactorily relying on technologies and solutions available today. The architectural approach allows managing several 'power electronic modules' (PEMs) in layer one (power electronics layer). Multiple electronic loads can be driven and required currents are supplied satisfying the new demands. A dedicated second layer is in charge of controlling all resources and providing the distribution of data to all participants of the network in a reliable manner. It incorporates two bus systems ensuring safe data communication with appropriate supervision on the one hand and safe communication between the PEMs on the other hand.

Project context and objectives:

During the first work period the SAFEPEM team decided on the technology to be most beneficially used and conducted the major work for the feasibility study. During the second work period the feasibility study was completed. The decision for the trade-off was not an easy one and finally it was made in favour of the TTEthernet technology.

This required a significant update for the technical annex which was reviewed at Thales Electrical Systems (TAES) in detail prior to its acceptance by TAES. TTTech was confronted with significantly higher effort in VHSIC hardware description language (VHDL) coding due to a TTEthernet controller that needed to be developed instead of the TTP controller (this is about identical to the assumption in the proposal for time-triggered protocol (TTP) approach) plus a complex TTEthernet switch. On the other hand, the initial proposal has foreseen to design and develop a physical layer, which is now almost redundant since a standard Ethernet physical layer was sufficient and available. The plan to develop a physical layer goes back to the initial assumption corresponding to the first requirements available where the system would have been built up on TTP. Thus the idea was to use the planned effort for the TTP physical layer (which is now not needed any more) and at least cover part of the efforts required for the design and development of the TTEthernet switch. TTTech was committed to complete the potentially uncovered part on its own expense from the beginning and is proud to present the results today.

Following advice and upon approval to start was received from TAES, the work developing the TTEthernet controller and the Switch has immediately been started already during the last month in 2011. This proved very helpful in order to recover the slight delay accumulated due to the significantly more complex first phase dedicated to the selection of the technology to be used. The design was completed significantly earlier compared to first estimations and integration phase was started already almost according to the initial plan. This was a key decision to complete the project at full work completed in time and according to the initial planning available at the beginning of the project when assuming TTP. The SAFEPEM results are now ready to be integrated into higher level Cleansky demonstrators as initially foreseen.

Project results:

The final result of SAFEPEM envisaged establishing a novel data communication architecture including the demonstrator set-up allowing verification of the requirements put in place versus the designs and developments made. SAFEPEM developed a new controller approach based on TTEthernet, it competed switch design and switch integration, appropriate tools required to provide appropriate monitoring and configuration as planned. Furthermore, the project developed a host application for the demonstration and integration of all components into a final demonstration set-up. The setup integrated 5 PEMs and provided evidence and proof that the requirements were satisfied and the resulting system works according to specification.

Potential impact:

SAFEPEM follows the aerospace industrial trend to foster more electric aircraft in order to improve the control of energy and finally reduce the fuel consumption by reduction of weight and more effective use of resources. SAFEPEM significantly improved currently existing power system control due to offering the provider of such system an increased flexibility of design using a deterministic approach for the power control system internal data communication system implementing an innovative power control manager. This approach implements a robust, reliable and scalable system architecture allowing the implementation in many aircraft platforms at minimised modifications required. Thus time for modifying the design will be saved resulting in cost reduction and finally offering an opportunity to reduce the price of the system. As a consequence supplying such novel system will improve competitiveness compared to competing systems.

On the other end, the new design approach allows to handle today's required high-power density which is not possible satisfactory when relying on technologies and solutions available today. The architectural approach allows managing several PEMs in layer one (power electronic layer). Multiple electronic loads can be driven and required currents are supplied according to demands.

A dedicated second layer is in charge of controlling all resources and providing the distribution of data to all participants of the network in a reliable manner. It incorporates two bus systems ensuring safe data communication with appropriate supervision on the one hand and safe communication between the PEMs on the other hand.

Detailed description of all dissemination and exploitation activities and successes are provided in the public deliverable document D7.2 'Dissemination and Exploitation Report'.

Approach:

SAFEPEM is a small project within the Cleansky JTI programme. It is part of the 'Systems for green operation' coordinated by Thales and Liebherr. Since the project endeavours to develop a novel data communication system for the control of PEMs controlling the power generation in large-passenger aircraft, the direct contact with respect to the coordination is Thales. In more detail, our direct point of contact is TAES in Chatou, France.

SAFEPEM is coordinated by TTTech Computertechnik AG in Vienna Austria. The project is too small in order to have more than just TTTech as a partner. Thus it is a 'one company consortium' only.

The size of the project and the size of the consortium is also one of the reasons, why dissemination and exploitation activities are comparably limited seen from the perspective of other, larger European Commission (EC)-funded research projects. This is also the major reason for not providing information via a dedicated SAFEPEM homepage. In any case the coordinator is ready to provide information on request any time. In such case please contact the coordinator at TTTech: Mr Andreas ECKEL, email: andreas.eckel@tttech.com. There is also another element that requires mentioning at this position: Even when the system requirements were established in close cooperation with TTTech, the system requirements have been elaborated by TAES and are to be interpreted as their own IP. They are building the basis for the SAFEPEM developments. On the one hand, this is the best exploitation opportunity a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) like TTTech can get, since the SAFEPEM developments are directly built according to the potential first customer’s requirements with the goal of being commercially used after the SAFEPEM project. This means that the developments will have very high opportunities to build the basis for a later implementation as a series production product in this field and industrial segment.

On the other hand, it also limits the opportunities for dissemination and exploitation, since the basis is also TEAS confidential.

Concluding, the SAFEPEM dissemination and exploitation activities are to be seen in a particular view due to these special points and conditions mentioned above. Thus, it may be the case that some of the activities with regard to dissemination and exploitation look small and might be suggested for improvement compared to other projects which do not have this situation. This is the reason that we ask for understanding in view of these aspects.

Strategy:

Due to the size of the projects and the confidentiality of the TAES system requirements, standard dissemination activities are not possible in the same way as in other EC funded projects. Thus SAFEPEM had to think of its own strategy to cover the point 'dissemination and exploitation' without infringing the confidentiality agreements between TAES and TTTech.

Thus, the strategy is focusing on the following points:

(a) discuss the project results with other Cleansky partners;
(b) investigate for other industrial domains than aerospace for usability of the SAFEPEM project results (the network);
(c) communicate the principle results with other tier-one and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) companies in the aerospace domain by approaching their research and development (R&D) departments and investigate, if potential architectural similarities allow the application of the results also in their application portfolio;
(d) discuss long term with TAES, if TTTech is allowed to discuss results also with other aerospace tier-one suppliers and OEMs in the same application domain;
(e) as soon as the first development results are achieved, articles, press releases and newsletters are envisaged, potentially also in collaboration with TAES.

For the time being, significant contributions at conferences or publications were very difficult to argue in favour since such contributions also directly provide a view on the TAES development and product state of the art. As a result, TTTech is very active in participation in various conferences and exhibitions rather by open up discussions than by the classical 'conference contribution' activities. This is also considered a good approach, since TTTech is not a university close R&D institution, TTTech is an industry and thus as such not the classical, standard publisher of large, scientific conference papers and contributions. Since SAFEPEM does not have an academic partner, this is not the 'core competence' of TTTech by stepping into the role of a university with respect to scientific publications.

Another approach certainly is by articles and press releases once the first publishable technical development results are available. This was seen more in the second half of the project or probably also close to the end of the project.

Contact details: Andreas ECKEL
TTTech Computertechnik AG
Schoenbrunnerstrasse, 7
A-1040 Vienna Austria
Phone: +43-158-5343416
Mobile: +43-676-84937216
Email: andreas.eckel@tttech.com

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