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Title:
CONTROL UNIT, INVERTER, ASSEMBLY, VEHICLE AND METHOD FOR CONTROLLING AN INVERTER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/121917
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Control unit (17) for controlling an inverter (3) with a DC link capacitor (6), with a plurality of output phases (20) and with a plurality of switching elements (13, 14) being arranged in half bridges (10) and being connected to the DC link capacitor (6) and the output phases (20), wherein in a failure mode the control unit is configured to control the switching elements (13, 14) to adopt an active short circuit state, in which the output phases (20) are short-circuited, wherein the control unit is configured to control the switching elements (13, 14) to be transferred from the active short circuit state into a freewheeling state, in which the switching elements (13, 14) of one half bridge are turned off, if a first condition, according to which a voltage measuring signal (26) representing a voltage dropping over the DC link capacitor (6) is indicative that the voltage between a positive potential (11) of the DC link capacitor and a negative potential (12) of the DC link capacitor (6) is below a predefined positive voltage threshold, and a second condition, according to which a current measuring signal (28) representing a current (29) flowing between an input (8) of the inverter (3) and the switching elements (13, 14) is indicative that the current (29) in a direction from the positive potential (11) to the negative potential (12) is above or equal to a predefined current threshold being below zero, are fulfilled, and to maintain and/or adopt the active short circuit state, if the first condition is fulfilled and the second condition is not fulfilled.

Inventors:
WIEDMANN, Karsten (Sonnenblumenweg 28, Spardorf, 91080, DE)
Application Number:
EP2018/085845
Publication Date:
June 27, 2019
Filing Date:
December 19, 2018
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
VALEO SIEMENS EAUTOMOTIVE GERMANY GMBH (Frauenauracher Str. 85, Erlangen, 91056, DE)
International Classes:
H02M1/32; B60L3/04; B60L58/20; H02M7/797; H02P3/22; H02M1/00
Foreign References:
EP2683071A12014-01-08
DE102006003254A12007-07-26
EP2433830A12012-03-28
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DR. GASSNER & PARTNER MBB (Wetterkreuz 3, Erlangen, 91058, DE)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. Control unit (17) for controlling an inverter (9) with a DC link capacitor (6), with a plurality of output phases (20) and with a plurality of switching elements (13, 14) being arranged in half bridges (10) and being connected to the DC link capacitor (6) and the output phases (20), wherein in a failure mode the control unit (17) is configured to control the switching elements (13, 14) to adopt an active short circuit state, in which the output phases (20) are short-circuited,

characterized in that

the control unit is configured to control the switching elements (13, 14)

- to be transferred from the active short circuit state into a freewheeling state, in which the switching elements (13, 14) of one half bridge (10) are turned off, if

- a first condition, according to which a voltage measuring signal (26) representing a voltage dropping over the DC link capacitor (6) is indicative that the voltage between a positive potential (11 ) of the DC link capacitor and a negative potential (12) of the DC link capacitor (6) is below a predefined positive voltage threshold, and

- a second condition, according to which a current measuring signal (28) representing a current (29) flowing between an input (8) of the inverter (3) and the switching elements (13, 14) is indicative that the current (29) in a direction from the positive potential (11 ) to the negative potential (12) is above or equal to a predefined current threshold being below zero,

are fulfilled, and

- to maintain and/or adopt the active short circuit state, if the first condition is fulfilled and the second condition is not fulfilled.

2. Control unit according to claim 1 , wherein the voltage threshold has a value between 30 V and 100 V.

3. Control unit according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the current threshold has a value between -30 A and -5 A, preferably between -20 A and -10 A.

4. Control unit according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the control unit (17) is configured to control the switching elements (13, 14) to be transferred from the freewheeling state into the active short circuit state, if a third condition, according to which the voltage measuring signal (28) is indicative that the voltage between the positive potential (11 ) and the negative potential (12) is above or reaches a predefined second voltage threshold.

5. Control unit according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the control unit is configured to actively short-circuit the output phases (20) by controlling either the switching element (13) being connected to the positive potential (11 ) of each half bridge (10) to be turned off and by controlling the switching element (14) being connected to the negative potential (12) of each half bridge (10) to be turned on or by controlling the switching element (13) being connected to the positive potential (11 ) of each half bridge (10) to be turned on and by controlling the switching element (14) being connected to the negative potential (12) of each half bridge (10) to be turned off.

6. Control unit according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the control unit is configured to control all switching elements (13, 14) of another or the other half bridges to be turned off in the freewheeling state.

7. Control unit according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the control unit (17) is configured to control the switching elements (13, 14) to be transferred from a normal mode, in which pulsing signals for providing a multi-phase AC current at the output phases (20) are provided to the switching elements (13, 14), into the failure mode, if a failure is detected.

8. Control unit according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the switching elements (13, 14) are voltage-controlled switching elements, particularly

comprising power transistors (15).

9. Inverter (3), comprising a control unit (17) according to any of claim 1 to 8.

10. Assembly (1 ) comprising an electric (2) machine and an inverter (3) according to claim 9 configured to supply the electric machine (2).

11. Vehicle (37), comprising an assembly (1 ) according to claim 10, wherein the electric machine (2) is configured to drive the vehicle (37).

12. Method for operating an inverter (3) with a DC link capacitor (6), a plurality of output phases (20) and a plurality of switching elements (13, 14) arranged in half bridges (10) and connected to the DC link capacitor (6) and the output phases (20), comprising the following steps:

- Adopting in a failure mode an active short circuit state, in which the output phases (20) are short circuited;

- Evaluating, whether a first condition, according to which a voltage measuring signal (26) representing a voltage dropping over the DC link capacitor (6) is indicative that the voltage between a positive potential (11 ) of the DC link capacitor (6) and a negative potential (12) of the DC link capacitor (6) is below a predefined positive voltage threshold, is fulfilled;

- Evaluating, whether a second condition, according to which a current measuring signal (28) representing a current (29) flowing between an input (8) of the inverter (3) and the switching elements (13, 14) is indicative that the current (29) in a direction from the positive (11 ) potential to the negative potential (12) is above or equal to a predefined current threshold being below zero, is fulfilled;

- Transferring the switching elements (13, 14) from the active short circuit state into a freewheeling state, in which the switching elements (13, 14) of one half bridge (10) are turned off, if the first condition and the second condition are fulfilled, or maintaining or adopting the active short circuit state, if the first condition is fulfilled and the second condition is not fulfilled.

Description:
Control unit, inverter, assembly, vehicle and method for controlling an inverter

The present invention relates to a control unit for controlling an inverter with a DC link capacitor, with a plurality of output phases and with a plurality of switching elements being arranged in half bridges and being connected to the DC link capacitor and the output phases, wherein in a failure mode the control unit is configured to control the switching elements to adopt an active short circuit state, in which the output phases are short-circuited. Besides, the invention relates to an inverter, an assembly, a vehicle and method for controlling an inverter.

Inverters are widely known to convert a DC voltage provided to a DC link into an AC output current supplying stator windings of an electric machine. The inverter comprises a control unit configured to control switching elements of the inverter such that the AC output current is generated in a normal operation mode. Due to a failure, the control unit is switched into a failure mode, in which switching elements connected to a potential of the DC link are turned off and switching elements connected to another potential of the DC link are turned on, thereby shortening the stator windings. Such a switching configuration is commonly named active short circuit. However, most voltage-controlled semiconductor switching elements have a normally-off characteristic. Thus, in the case of losing a power supply of the control all switching elements are turned off permanently. It is known to use a DC link capacitor to supply the control unit, when losing the power supply. When the smoothing capacitor is discharged to or below a predefined threshold value, energy may be recovered from the electric machine in order to recharge the smoothing capacitor.

Such a control unit is known from EP 2 433 830 A1 , which discloses a controller for a multiphase inverter, comprising upper switches and lower switches and a smoothing capacitor, which is arranged in a DC link, and being connected to a three-phase synchronous machine for driving a vehicle. The controller is configured to control the inverter such that electric energy from the synchronous machine is recovered during a safe state caused by an active short circuit due to closing all upper switches or all lower switches. Therein, the synchronous machine is operated in a passive generator operation by opening all switches of the inverter, wherein the smoothing capacitor is charged up to a first threshold value of a DC link voltage. Electric loads of the vehicle are supplied by electric energy of the smoothing capacitor. Above a higher second threshold value windings of the synchronous machine are short-circuited by closing all lower switches or all upper switches by the voltage of the DC link automatically. After undercutting the first threshold value the active short circuit is released by opening the closed switches automatically.

However, when recharging the DC link capacitor is triggered although the DC link capacitor is still connected to a DC voltage source, e.g. a battery of a vehicle, an undesired braking torque may occur. This may be caused by different safety functions such as one function for detecting a failure by the inverter and another function realized independently of the inverter for disconnecting the DC voltage source from the DC link. Thus, an interference of these functions may cause the braking torque.

Thus, it is an object of the invention to provide an improved control unit,

particularly allowing a robust operation.

According to the present invention, the above object is solved by a control unit as initially described that is configured to control the switching elements to be transferred from the active short circuit state into a freewheeling state, in which the switching elements of one half bridge are turned off, if a first condition, according to which a voltage measuring signal representing a voltage dropping over the DC link capacitor is indicative that the voltage between a positive potential of the DC link capacitor and a negative potential of the DC link capacitor is below a predefined positive voltage threshold, and a second condition, according to which a current measuring signal representing a current flowing between an input of the inverter and the switching elements is indicative that the current in a direction from the positive potential to the negative potential is above or equal to a predefined current threshold being below zero, are fulfilled, and to maintain and/or adopt the active short circuit state, if the first condition is fulfilled and the second condition is not fulfilled.

The invention is based on the consideration that by means of supervising the current flowing between the input and the switching elements an undesired braking torque can be avoided, since the braking torque results from the current being negative with an absolute value above the current threshold. Thus, the control unit maintains or adopts the active short circuit state, if second condition is not fulfilled although a fulfillment of the first condition indicates a need of recharging the DC link capacitor. Advantageously, the inventive control unit allows a more robust operation of the inverter with respect to functional safety

requirements as undesired breaking torques are avoided when recharging the DC link capacitor.

Preferably, the voltage threshold is chosen such that it allows supplying a DC conversion unit connected in parallel to the DC link capacitor and being configured to supply the control unit. Preferably, the voltage threshold has a value between 30 V and 100 V. The current threshold is preferably chosen depending on the size of the electric machine and/or a tolerable braking torque. The current threshold may have a value between -30 A and -5 A, preferably between -20 A and -10 A.

Furthermore, the control unit may be configured to control the switching elements to be transferred from the freewheeling state into the active short circuit state, if a third condition, according to which the voltage measuring signal is indicative that the voltage between the positive potential and the negative potential is above or equal to a predefined second voltage threshold. Therein, the second voltage threshold may represent a voltage level, at which the DC link capacitor is charged sufficiently. Particularly, the control unit is configured to actively short-circuit the output phases by controlling either the switching element being connected to the positive potential of each half bridge to be turned off and by controlling the switching element being connected to the negative potential of each half bridge to be turned on or by controlling the switching element being connected to the positive potential of each half bridge to be turned on and by controlling the switching element being connected to the negative potential of each half bridge to be turned off.

Preferably, the control unit is configured to control all switching elements of another or the other half bridges to be turned off in the freewheeling state. Thus, a complete freewheeling state, also called "Safe Pulse Off' (SPO), may be used for charging the DC link capacitor.

Typically, the control unit is configured to control the switching elements to be transferred from a normal mode, in which pulsing signals for providing a multi- phase AC current at the output phases are provided to the switching signals, into the failure mode, if a failure is detected. A failure signal may be generated by the control unit or may be obtained by a safety unit of the inverter. The safety unit may implement a safety monitoring according to the E-Gas Level 3 standard. In a normal operation mode of the inverter the control unit may be configured to provide pulsing signals such that the switching elements are turned on and off for providing an AC current, wherein the control unit may be configured to inhibit the pulsing signals upon receiving the failure signal.

The switching elements may be voltage-controlled switching elements, particularly comprising power transistors such as insulated gate field-effect transistors or insulated gate bipolar transistors.

Besides, the present invention relates to an inverter, comprising a control unit according to the invention. Moreover, the present invention relates to an assembly of an electric machine and an inverter according to the invention configured to supply the electric machine.

Furthermore, the present invention relates to a vehicle comprising an assembly according to the invention, wherein the electric machine is configured to drive the vehicle. The assembly may comprise a DC voltage source, e.g. a high-voltage battery, supplying the inverter. The assembly may comprise a switch by a which the DC voltage source is connectable to the inverter.

Finally, the present invention relates to a method for operating an inverter with a DC link capacitor, a plurality of output phases and a plurality of switching elements arranged in half bridges and connected to the DC link capacitor and the output phases, comprising the following steps: Adopting in a failure mode an active short circuit state, in which the output phases are short circuited; Evaluating, whether a first condition, according to which a voltage measuring signal representing a voltage dropping over the DC link capacitor is indicative that the voltage between a positive potential of the DC link capacitor and a negative potential of the DC link capacitor is below a predefined positive voltage threshold, is fulfilled; Evaluating, whether a second condition, according to which a current measuring signal representing a current flowing between an input of the inverter and the switching elements is indicative that the current in a direction from the positive potential to the negative potential is above or equal to a predefined current threshold being below zero, is fulfilled; Transferring the switching elements from the active short circuit state into a freewheeling state, in which the switching elements of one half bridge are turned off, if the first condition and the second condition are fulfilled, or maintaining or adopting the active short circuit state, if the first condition is fulfilled and the second condition is not fulfilled.

All statements referring to the inventive inverter apply analogously to the inventive electric machine, the inventive assembly, the inventive vehicle and the inventive method, so that the above-mentioned advantages of the inventive inverter may be achieved as well. Further details and advantages of the invention are disclosed in the following, wherein reference is made to the schematic drawings showing:

Fig. 1 a block diagram of an assembly of an inverter and an electric machine; and

Fig. 2 a block diagram of an embodiment of a vehicle.

Fig. 1 is a block diagram of an assembly 1 of an electric machine 2, an inverter 3 and a DC voltage source 4 being connected to the inverter 3 via a switch 5. The switch is controllable by an electric control unit (ECU) 5a being part of the assembly 1.

The inverter 3 comprises a DC link capacitor 6 for smoothing a voltage supplied by the DC voltage source 4 connected to an input 8 of the inverter 3. In parallel to the DC link capacitor 6 a voltage measurement unit 7 is connected. Furthermore, the inverter 3 comprises a power unit 9, comprising three half bridges 10 being connected in parallel between a positive potential 11 of the DC link capacitor 6 and a negative potential 12 of the DC link capacitor 6. Each half bridge 10 comprises a switching element 13 being connected to the positive potential 11 and a switching element 14 connected to negative low potential 12. Each switching element 13, 14 comprises a power transistor 15, e.g. an insulated gate field-effect transistor or an insulated gate bipolar transistor, and a diode 16 connected in parallel thereto. In the case of the transistor 15 being an insulated gate field-effect transistor, the diode 16 is formed by a body diode of the transistor 15.

Furthermore, the inverter 3 comprises a control unit 17 and a DC conversion unit 18. The DC conversion unit 18 comprises a flyback converter and is configured to convert a voltage dropping over the DC link capacitor 6 into a supply voltage for the control unit 7. Therein, the supply voltage is used in the case where an external low-voltage power supply (not shown) for the control unit 17, e.g. a low- voltage battery, does not provide sufficient power. With respect to automotive applications, this may occur due to a loss of a corresponding terminal (e.g.

"Klemme 30" according to DIN 72552).

Finally, the inverter 3 comprises a current measurement unit 19 interconnected at the positive potential 11 between the input 8 and the DC link capacitor 6.

Alternatively, the current measurement unit 19 is connected between the DC link capacitor 6 and the half bridges 10.

In a normal operation mode, the control unit 17 is configured to provide pulsing signals for providing a multiphase AC current at output phases 20 of the inverter 6. If a safety unit 21 of the inverter 3, e.g. implementing the E-Gas Level 3 standard, detects a failure, a failure signal 21a is provided Therein, the failure detection function of the safety unit 21 is independent of an external failure detection function, e.g. realized by the electric control unit 5a, which triggers the switch 5 to open therein disconnecting the DC voltage source 4 from the inverter 3.

The control unit 17 comprises a logic section 22 which is configured to provide a control signal 23 to the switching elements 14, 15 such that they are transferred either into an active short circuit state or into a freewheeling state. Therein, if an input signal 24 of the logic section 22 is a logic one, the active short circuit state is adopted, and if the input signal 24 of the logic section 22 is a logic zero, the freewheeling state is adopted. In the active short circuit state, the switching element 13 being connected to the positive potential 11 of each half bridge 10 is controlled to be turned off and the switching element 14 being connected to the negative potential 12 of each half bridge 10 is controlled to be turned on.

Alternatively, the switching element 13 of each half bridge 10 is controlled to be turned on and the switching element 14 of each half bridge 10 is controlled to be turned off. In the freewheeling state, both switching elements 14, 15 of one, two or all half bridges 10 are turned off. Thus, the diodes 16 work as a rectifier for a recovered electromagnetic force (e. m. f.) provided by the electric machine 2. The control unit 17 comprises a first comparator section 25, which obtains a voltage measuring signal 26 from the voltage detection unit 7. By means of the first comparator section 25 a first condition is implemented, according to which the voltage measuring signal representing the voltage dropping over the DC capacitor 6 is indicative that the voltage between the positive terminal 11 and the negative terminal 12 is below a predefined positive first voltage threshold. Exemplarily, the first voltage threshold has a value of 80 V. Aside, the control unit 17 comprises a second comparator section 27, which obtains a current measuring signal 28 from the current detection unit 19. By means of the second comparator section a second condition is implemented, according to which the current measuring signal 28 representing a current 29 flowing between the input 8 and the switching elements 14, 15 is indicative that the current 29 in a direction from the positive potential 11 to the negative potential 12 is above or equal to a predefined current threshold being below the zero. Exemplarily, the current threshold has a value of - 15 A.

Aside, the first comparator section 25 has a hysteresis function implementing a third condition, according to which the voltage measuring signal 26 is indicative that the voltage between the positive potential 11 and the negative potential 12 is above or reaches a predefined second voltage threshold being higher than the first voltage threshold.

Output signals 30, 31 of the first comparator section 25 or the second comparator section 27, respectively, have a logic one if the respective condition is fulfilled and a logic zero otherwise. The output signals 30, 31 are an input of an AND-gate 32 of the control unit 10. An output 33 of the AND-gate 32 is fed to a NOT-gate 34, whose output 35 and the failure signal 21a are an input of an AND-gate 36 providing the input signal 24 of the logic section 22 as output.

Upon opening the switch 5 by the electric control unit 5a the DC link capacitor 6 is discharged as it is not any longer recharged by the DC voltage source 4. Thus, the DC conversion unit 18 in not able to supply the control unit 17, if the DC link capacitor 6 is completely discharged. However, the control unit 17 is configured to control the switching elements 14, 15 to be transferred from the active short circuit state into the freewheeling state, thereby recharging the DC link capacitor 6 by a rectified back e. m. f. of the electric machine to supplied via the output phases 20. However, when the safety unit 21 working independently from the electric control unit 5a provides the failure signal 21 a although the switch 5 is closed, an undesired braking torque may occur as the current 29 being negative flows. In order to avoid the braking torque in the case of the negative current 29 being too high, the control unit 17 is configured to maintain or adopt the active short circuit state, if the first condition is fulfilled and the second condition is not fulfilled. In other words, if the negative current 29 is below the current threshold, the control unit 17 avoids the freewheeling state. Note that due to the third condition the active short circuit state is adopted again if the second voltage threshold is reached or crossed, therein indicating that the DC link capacitor 6 has been recharged to a sufficient amount of charge.

The control unit 17, particularly the logic section 22 and the gates 32, 34, 36, may be implemented discretely or in a complex programmable logic device (CPLD) or in a field programmable gate array (FPGA). Alternatively, the aforementioned logic functions are implemented in a computer program, particularly running on a microcontroller.

Fig. 2 is a block diagram of an embodiment of a vehicle 37 comprising the assembly 1 , wherein the electric machine 2 is configured to drive the vehicle 37.