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Multi-level SiC Module for Aircraft applications

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MuSiCA (Multi-level SiC Module for Aircraft applications)

Reporting period: 2020-09-01 to 2021-08-31

Clean Sky is the largest European research programme developing innovative, cutting-edge technology aimed at reducing the environmental impact of aircraft transportation. Electrification of aircraft will be the main technological contributor towards the reduction of CO2, NOx and noise emissions in aircraft.
Power electronics is essential to convert electrical energy efficiently and to power and control generators, motors and other electrical energy users on board. Efficient and reliable power electronics is the key enabling technology for the electrification of aircrafts.
MuSiCA, sponsored by the Clean Sky program, aims to design and deliver an innovative multilevel power electronics module, an essential building block for the construction of high efficiency converters for on-board electric energy conversion systems.
Power electronic equipment must maximise efficiency, reducing losses, while minimising weight and volume. Higher power density increases the requirement for efficient electrical design and effective thermal management.
The power modules developed within MuSiCA will use novel Silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductor devices which offer higher power density than the conventional silicon (Si) ones and thus offer the potential to reduce the volume and weight of power module packaging. It has been shown that by using SiC semiconductor devices, higher power density with smaller module package size can be achieved. Nevertheless, the use of novel fast switching SiC devices comes with several challenges in manufacturing, thermal management, optimization of design and layout to guarantee, manufacturability, reliability and reduce unwanted parasitic behaviour.
The main objectives of MuSiCA are to package SiC devices and associated gate drives in a manufacturable and reliable power module package capable of driving over 100kW, to enable SiC technology to meet its full potential and demonstrate its competitiveness against current solutions. The hardware will be tested on a Clean Sky 2 motor drive test bed and will provide a demonstration of the manufacturability, reliability, improved power density of the proposed technologies with the ultimate aim of contributing to the reduction of CO2, NOx and noise emissions in aircraft transportation.

The output of the project will be a functional building block for all future needs for highly efficient on-board energy conversion systems. The target application is the electrification of aircraft transportation with the aim of increasing the competitiveness of the European Aerospace and electronics industry, but the solutions developed will be applicable to many other applications such as automotive traction, ev charging stations, rail and renewable energy, where high efficiency, high reliability and manufacturability is desirable
Work in the first year of the project has focused on the following three main areas:
1. Identification of requirements and specifications in the intended application:

We have worked in collaboration with the Topic Manager to identify the topology and the electrical and mechanical specifications of the required power module and gate drive, as well as the electrical and mechanical interfaces to the test rig. Furthermore, test procedures have been identified for validations to be performed by the partners locally and on the Clean Sky test rig.

2. Design of power module and gate drive

An extensive design process has been followed to move from the specifications to the prototyping of the power module. Extensive analyses based on detailed computer simulations have been performed to optimise the design of the power module and the selections of suitable components and manufacturing steps. Simulations have analysed the electrical and thermal performance of the power module in several scenarios in the intended applications and have guided the design process. A preliminary design was selected and presented to the TM, further improvements were made to increase the manufacturability and the electrical performances leading to the final design the module layout which is currently in a prototyping stage.

Several designs of the gate drive circuitry were investigated and a final design has been finalised. Prototypes have been manufactured and successfully tested in representative conditions in preparation for the tests in conjunction with the power modules.

3. Selection of parts, components and manufacturing steps

In parallel with the design process, the selection of components and manufacturing processes has been performed. SiC dies and all other components and parts for the manufacturing of the power modules and gate drives have been identified and procured. Manufacturing processes and required assembly parts have been designed and optimized.
No multi-level SiC power module and associated gate drive is currently available on the market. MuSiCA will deliver the first 3-level integrated SiC power module with rating above 100kW per module, with a current rating >300A and 1.5kV dc voltage.

The optimized design will have lower commutation parasitic inductance than any similarly rated solution on the market made with discrete modules and will enablethe design of 3-level power converters with the highest power density.
In addition, we aim to publish results on the development of methods for detailed simulation and optimization of parasitics and reliability of power electronics in harsh environments.

The outcome of the project will be an important key building block for any aircraft power system architecture to deliver on the goals of reducing CO2 and NOx emissions from aircraft transportation.
In addition to the intended aircraft applications, the modules have a power and voltage rating suitable for a number of other emerging applications such as EV charger stations, solar photovoltaic grid integration, wind generators, railway tractions etc. that will be targeted at the end of the project.
MuSiCA module