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Title:
ELECTRIC MOTOR AND METHOD FOR POWERING IT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/109740
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Electric motor (1) for automotive applications which can be installed on board a vehicle, comprising an electronic control circuitry (2) in turn comprising a power driver (4), at least one filtering capacitor (5) at the input to the power driver (4), a communication interface (8) for communicating with a control unit (100) of the vehicle, a system (9) for connecting the communication interface (8) to the control unit (100) of the vehicle, a microprocessor (7) in communication with communication interface (8) and with the power driver (4); the connection system (9) comprising at least a first powered line (VdcLIN) and the electric motor (1) comprising a pre-charging circuit (10) of the filtering capacitor (5) which can be switched between an open configuration and a closed configuration and operating between the first powered line (VdcLIN) of the connection system (9) and the filtering capacitor (5) for charging the filtering capacitor (5).

Inventors:
DE FILIPPIS, Pietro (Via Cesare Battisti 20, VARAZZE, 17019, IT)
Application Number:
IB2017/058010
Publication Date:
June 21, 2018
Filing Date:
December 15, 2017
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
SPAL AUTOMOTIVE S.R.L. (Via per Carpi, 26/B, CORREGGIO, 42015, IT)
International Classes:
B60L1/00; B60L3/00; B60R16/03; H02H9/00; H02J7/34
Foreign References:
US20150270735A12015-09-24
KR20070020695A2007-02-22
US20090108674A12009-04-30
Other References:
"Advances in Vehicular Networking Technologies", 11 April 2011, INTECH, ISBN: 978-953-30-7241-8, article FABIENNE NOUVEL ET AL: "Experiments of In-Vehicle Power Line Communications", XP055391825, DOI: 10.5772/14258
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PUGGIOLI, Tommaso (Via di Corticella 87, BOLOGNA, 40128, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1 . An electric motor for automotive applications which can be installed on board a vehicle, the electric motor comprising:

an electronic control circuitry (2) comprising

a power driver (4);

at least one capacitor (5) at the inlet to the power driver (4);

a communication interface (8) for communicating with a control unit (100) of the vehicle;

a system (9) for connecting the communication interface (8) to the control unit (100) of the vehicle;

a microprocessor (7) in communication with communication interface (8) and with the power driver (4),

the electric motor being characterised in that it comprises a circuit (10) for pre-charging the capacitor (5) which is switchable between an open configuration and a closed configuration and operating between the connection system (9) and the capacitor (5) for charging the capacitor (5), the connection system (9) comprising at least a first line (VdcLIN, VdcPWM, PWM) which can be powered in communication with the pre- charging circuit (10).

2. The electric motor according to claim 1 , wherein the microprocessor (7) is in communication with the pre-charging circuit (10) and configured for switching the pre-charging circuit (10) to the closed configuration upon receiving a pre-charging signal S1 .

3. The electric motor according to claim 2, wherein the communication interface (8) is configured for transmitting the pre-charging signal S1 to the microprocessor (7) upon receiving a first instruction 11 from the control unit (100) of the vehicle using the connection system (9).

4. The electric motor according to claim 3 wherein the connection system (9) comprises a logic port (LIN, PWM) of the communication interface (8), the first instruction 11 being transmitted on the logic port (LIN, PWM).

5. The electric motor according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the microprocessor (7) is configured for transmitting to the communication interface (8) a signal S2 that charging has been performed at an occurrence of a predetermined event.

6. The electric motor according to claim 5, wherein the communication interface (8) is configured for transmitting to the control unit (100) the signal S2 that charging has been performed.

7. The electric motor according to claim 6, wherein the connection system (9) comprises a logic port (LIN, PWM) of the communication interface, the signal S2 that charging has been performed being transmitted from the logic port (LIN, PWM).

8. The electric motor according to any one of claims 5 to 7, wherein the microprocessor (7) is configured for generating the signal S2 that charging has been performed when a difference between the voltage (VdcLIN, VdcPWM) on the first line (VdcLIN, VdcPWM) which can be powered and the voltage at the terminals of the capacitor (5) is included within a predetermined range.

9. The electric motor according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the pre-charging circuit (10) comprises a controlled switch (1 1 ) in communication with the microprocessor (7), the pre-charging circuit (10) being switchable between the open and closed configurations by means of the controlled switch (1 1 ) controlled by the microprocessor (7).

10. The electric motor according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the connection system (9) comprises a powered input (VdcLIN, VdcPWM) of the communication interface (8), the pre-charging circuit (10) operating between the powered input (VdcLIN, VdcPWM), which defines the first powered line, and the capacitor (5).

1 1 . The electric motor according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the communication interface (8) is of the LIN or PWM type.

12. The electric motor according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the connection system (9) comprises a logic port (PWM) of the communication interface (8), the pre-charging circuit (10) operating between the logic port (PWM), which defines the first powered line, and the capacitor(5).

13. A control unit for controlling an electric motor (1 ) according to any one of the preceding claims, the control unit being characterised in that it is configured for sending to the communications interface (8) a first instruction 11 for switching the pre-charging circuit (10) to the closed configuration.

14. The control unit according to claim 13, comprising a circuit for modulating the pulse width in communication with the communication interface and comprising a direct current powering stage which can be connected to a logic port (PWM) of the interface (8), the communication interface (8) being of the PWM type.

15. The control unit according to claim 14, wherein the direct current powering stage comprises a circuit of the push-pull type.

16. The control unit according to any one of claims 13 to 15 configured for closing a power supply circuit of the power driver (4) upon receiving a signal S2 that charging has been performed of the capacitor (5).

17. The control unit according to any one of claims 13 to 16 configured for closing a power supply circuit of the power driver (4) after a predetermined time from the sending of the first instruction 11 .

18. A method for controlling and powering an electric motor (1 ) according to any one of claims 1 to 12 and connected to the control unit (100) of the vehicle, the method comprising:

a step of sending a first instruction 11 from the control unit (100) of the vehicle to the pre-charging circuit (10);

a step of switching the pre-charging circuit (10) to the closed configuration based on the first instruction 11 ;

a step for powering the line (VdcLIN, VdcPWM, PWM) which can be powered with a first power supply voltage (VdcLIN, VdcPWM, Vdc), a charging of the capacitor (5) which occurs thanks to the first power supply voltage (VdcLIN, VdcPWM, Vdc), the method comprising a step of powering the power driver (4) for with a second power supply voltage when the voltage at the terminals of the capacitor (5) has reached a predetermined value.

5 19. The method according to claim 18, wherein the step of sending a first instruction 11 from the control unit (100) of the vehicle to the pre-charging circuit (10) comprises a first step of sending the first instruction 11 to the communication interface (8) and a second step of sending a signal S1 of pre-charging of the communication interface (8) to the microprocessor (7).0 20. The method according to claim 18 or 19, wherein the first instruction 11 is sent to a logic port (PWM) of the communication interface (8) in the form of a high level signal at a predetermined voltage value Vdc, for example 13 Volts, the high level signal constituting the first power supply voltage for charging the capacitor (5), the first powered line comprising the logic port5 (PWM).

21 . The method according to any of the claims 18 to 20, wherein the step of powering the power driver (4) occurs after a predetermined time from the switching of the pre-charging circuit (10) to the closed configuration, the voltage at the terminals of the capacitor (5) reaching the o predetermined value after the predetermined time.

22. The method according to any of the claims from 18 to 21 , wherein the step of powering the power driver (4) occurs when a difference between the first power supply voltage (VdcLIN, VdcPWM) and the voltage at the terminals of the capacitor is between a first and a second predetermined 5 value.

Description:
DESCRIPTION

ELECTRIC MOTOR AND METHOD FOR POWERING IT

Technical field

This invention relates to an electric motor a method for powering the motor.

More specifically, this invention relates to a brushless motor with electronic control for driving a cooling fan in automotive applications and a method for controlling it.

Background art

Electric fans with electronic control been recently developed in the automotive sector comprising a brushless motor for driving a corresponding fan.

The brushless motors comprise, inside them, an electronic card, or control electronics, which supervises and controls the operation of the electric fan, and are powered in direct current by the battery of the vehicle.

The electronic card comprises, amongst other components, an inverter stage for powering the windings of the motor, which in turn comprises, at the input, a series of power capacitors, generally electrolytic, also known, in the trade, as "dc-link capacitors" or "dc-bus capacitors".

The preferred embodiment of interest for this invention relates to a known configuration wherein the power supply line for the electric fan is switched ON/OFF by means of a relay controlled by a control unit, for example by the engine control unit (ECU), normally provided in the vehicle, which also puts the electric fan into operation.

The control unit basically commands, when provided, the closing of a circuit for powering the electric motor on the battery by closing the above- mentioned relay.

The main drawback of this configuration derives from the fact that the above-mentioned electrolytic capacitors, when the motor is not powered, that is to say, the power supply line is open, are discharged.

When the relay, controlled by the control unit, is closed for powering the electric fan, the capacitors charge immediately, however offering a practically zero resistance which determines the triggering, instantaneously, of the so-called "inrush current, which is extremely high, even up to 300 Amperes, during the closing transient.

This current is harmful for the relay, both in terms of duration and reliability, in particular during its bouncing, that is to say, until it reaches a stable closed configuration.

In order to manage and withstand these rush currents the automotive sector normally uses high current and temperature relays which are, however, very expensive and in any case subject to rapid wear due to the circumstances described above.

Disclosure of the invention

In this context, the main purpose of this invention is to provide an electric motor and a method for powering the motor which are free of the above- mentioned drawbacks.

One aim of this invention is to provide an electric motor the entering into service of which does not trigger relatively high rush currents.

Another aim of this invention is to propose a method for powering an electric motor which allows the inrush current to be minimised at the time of putting into service of the motor.

The technical purpose indicated and at least the aims specified are substantially achieved by an electric motor according to claim 1 and a method for powering an electric motor according to claim 18.

Brief description of drawings

Further features and advantages of the present invention are more apparent in the detailed description below, with reference to a preferred, non-limiting, embodiment of an electric motor, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure 1 is a block diagram of a first embodiment, with some parts cut away for greater clarity, of an electric motor according to this invention and of a relative power supply circuit;

Figure 2 is a block diagram of a second embodiment, with some parts cut away for greater clarity, of an electric motor according to this invention and of a relative power supply circuit;

Figure 3 is a block diagram of a third embodiment, with some parts cut away for greater clarity, of an electric motor according to this invention and of a relative power supply circuit.

Detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention

With reference to the accompanying drawings, the numeral 1 denotes an electric motor according to this invention.

The motor 1 is preferably a brushless motor with electronic control of a type substantially known type and described only insofar as necessary for understanding this invention.

The motor 1 is advantageously applied in the operation of cooling fans in automotive applications.

As illustrated, the motor 1 comprises an electronic control circuitry 2 or electronic card required for the operation of the motor 1 .

The electronic circuitry 2 comprises a powering line 3 the pins of which are denoted in the drawings with the polarities "+" and "-" of the power supply voltage.

The electronic circuitry 2 comprises a power driver 4, in particular a power inverter, connected to the track 3 for powering the windings of the motor not illustrated.

At the input to the driver 4 the electronic circuitry 2 comprises a series of power capacitors, the so-called "dc-link capacito or "dc-bus capacito illustrated schematically as a block in Figure 5, connected in parallel to the driver 4, and an inductor 6.

The electronic circuitry 2 comprises a microprocessor, schematically illustrated as a block 7, which supervises the operation of the driver 4 and of the entire motor 1 , as described in more detail below.

The electronic circuitry 2 comprises a communication interface, schematically illustrated as a block 8, to allow the motor 1 to communicate with a control unit of the vehicle, labelled 100, which, usually, also controls the switching ON of the motor 1 .

The control unit 100 is, for example, the so-called ECU (Engine Control Unit) of the vehicle.

The interface 8 is in communication with the microprocessor 7 and, in use, that is to say, when the motor is installed in a vehicle, with the control unit 100.

In the embodiment illustrated in Figure 1 , the interface 8 is a LIN {Local Interconnect Network) transceiver which is a known communication protocol especially dedicated to automotive applications.

The interface 8 has a LIN logic port, to which corresponds a respective pin, and a VdcLIN power supply port, to which corresponds a respective pin.

In that case, the electronic circuitry 2 has four pins for connection to the vehicle; the above-mentioned references "+" and "-" of the power line 3 and the LIN and VdcLIN pins which are in communication with the control unit 100.

In the embodiment illustrated in Figure 2, the interface 8 is a PWM {Pulse Width Modulation) transceiver which is a known digital modulation protocol.

The interface 8 has a PWM logic port, to which corresponds a respective pin, and a VdcPWM power supply port, to which corresponds a respective pin.

In that case, the electronic circuitry 2 has four pins for connection to the vehicle; the above-mentioned references "+" and "-" of the power line 3 and the PWM and VdcPWM pins which are in communication with the control unit 100.

It should be noted that, as is known, in the embodiments of Figures 1 and 2, the pins VdcLIN and VdcPWM are always powered with respective positive voltages, indicated with the same reference as the respective pins, even when the motor 1 is switched OFF, that is, the powered line 3 is open.

The microprocessor 7 is also powered by means of the driver 4, which also receives the VdcPIN or VdcPWM power supply.

In the embodiment illustrated in Figure 3, the interface 8 is a PWM transceiver.

The interface 8 has a PWM logic port, to which corresponds a respective pin connected to the control unit 100 and it does not have, relative to the solutions of Figure 1 and 2, a power supply port.

The VdcLIN, LIN, VdcPWM and PWM pins form part, for each respective embodiment, of a connection system 9 for connection of the electronic circuitry 2 to the control unit 100.

With reference to the accompanying drawings, the numeral 101 denotes a circuit for powering the power line 3 of the motor 1 .

The circuit 101 schematically comprises, in the embodiment illustrated, the battery of the vehicle, indicated with a block 102, and a relay 103 which can be switched between an open configuration, corresponding to a switched OFF status of the motor 1 , and a closed configuration, corresponding to a switched ON status of the motor 1 , wherein the motor 1 is connected to the battery 102.

The relay 103 is in communication with the control unit 100 and controlled by the same, in known manner, to pass from the open and closed configurations.

As illustrated, the motor 1 , and in particular the electronic circuitry 2 for controlling the same, comprises a circuit 10 for pre-charging the capacitors The circuit 10, which can be switched between an open configuration and a closed configuration, operates between the connection system 9, that is, between the pins of the interface 8, and the capacitors 5 for charging the capacitors 5, as explained in more detail below.

By means of the circuit 10 it is in fact possible to recharge the capacitors 5 before the closing of the relay 103 so as to prevent the occurrence of the so-called inrush currents.

In the preferred embodiment illustrated in Figure 1 , the circuit 10 comprises an electronic switch 1 1 , for example a MOSFET, in series with a resistor 12 connected between the VdcLIN pin and the "+" pin for powering the driver 4 downstream of the inductor 6.

In the preferred embodiment illustrated in Figure 2, the switch 1 1 and the resistor 12 are connected between the VdcPWM pin and the "+" pin powering the driver 4 downstream of the inductor 6.

In the preferred embodiment illustrated in Figure 3, the switch 1 1 and the resistor 12 are connected between the PWM pin and the "+" pin for powering the driver 4 downstream of the inductor 6.

In the embodiments illustrated, the circuit 10 comprises a driver 13 for controlling the switch 1 1 in communication with the microprocessor 7. The microprocessor 7 is configured for switching the switch 1 1 between an open configuration, corresponding to the open configuration of the circuit 10, and a closed configuration, corresponding to the closed configuration of the pre-charging circuit 10, upon receiving a pre-charging signal S1 . The interface 8 is configured for transmitting the pre-charging signal S1 to the microprocessor 7 upon receiving an instruction 11 requesting pre- charging from the control unit 100 of the vehicle.

Preferably, the request for pre-charging from the control unit 100 is sent the electronic circuitry 2 substantially upon switching ON of the motor 1 , that is to say, when the relay 103 is about to be closed.

As schematically illustrated in the embodiments of Figures 1 and 2, the pre-charging request is transmitted on the LIN or PWM logic port of the interface 8.

In these embodiments, the electronic circuitry 2 comprises a voltage sensor 14 for monitoring the voltage at the terminals of the capacitors 5 in communication with the microprocessor 7 and a voltage sensor 15 for monitoring the voltage VdcLIN or VdcPWM.

The microprocessor 7 is configured to generate a signal S2 that charging has been performed when the difference between the voltage VdcLIN or VdcPWM and the voltage at the terminals of the capacitors 5 reaches a predetermined value D that is, the deviation D falls within a predetermined range.

The microprocessor 7 is also configured for transmitting to the interface 8 the signal S2 that charging has been performed.

In one embodiment, the voltage at the terminals of the capacitors 5 is compared with VdcLIN or VdcPWM during the pre-charging step which is considered completed when the two voltages are, for example, substantially coincident, that is to say, their deviation D falls within a predetermined range.

A value which can be adopted is, for example, 10%-15% of deviation between the voltage at the terminals of the capacitors 5 and VdcLIN or VdcPWM to consider the voltages to be substantially coincident.

It should be noted that the deviation D between the voltages directly influences the extent of the inrush current: generally speaking, a greater deviation D of voltage corresponds to a greater inrush current whilst a smaller deviation D of voltage corresponds to a lower inrush current (there is an analytical relationship, which can therefore be calculated, between permitted deviation between the voltages and inrush current);

On the other hand, the devotion D between the voltages directly influences the duration of the pre-charging phase: a greater deviation D of voltage corresponds to a shorter pre-charging time, a smaller deviation D of voltage corresponds to a longer pre-charging time (there is an analytical relationship, which can therefore be calculated, between permitted deviation between the voltages and inrush current). The communication interface 8 is configured for transmitting to the control unit 100 the signal S2 that charging has been performed, preferably through the LIN or PWM logic port.

According to these embodiments, the control unit 100 is configured for controlling the closing of the relay 103 upon receiving the signal S2 that charging has been performed.

In this way, the relay 103 is closed when the voltage at the terminals of the capacitors 5 is substantially equal to the power supply voltage, or in any case the difference D between these voltages is within a predetermined range, and, therefore, the rush currents are relatively low.

With reference to Figure 3, it should be noted that, as already mentioned, the interface 8 does not comprises a powered port.

In this embodiment, the control unit 100, which comprises a circuit, not illustrated, for modulating the pulse width in communication with the communication interface 8, comprises a stage, not illustrated, for direct current powering Vdc connected to the PWM logic port.

The control unit 100 is also configured for powering the power driver 4, that is, closing the relay 103, after a predetermined pre-charging time from the sending of the first instruction 11 .

The predetermined time is calculated in such a way that, based on the power supply voltage on the PWM port, the voltage at the terminals of the capacitors 5 has reached the expected value to be able to close the relay 103 preventing the occurrence of high rush currents.

For example, if the control unit 100 comprises a stage for direct current powering Vdc at 13 Volts, obtained, for example, with a circuit of the substantially known push pull type, the predetermined pre-charging time may be 300 ms, after sending the first instruction 11 .

Generally speaking, the pre-charging time is a function of the voltage Vdc which can be applied to the circuit 10 and the greater the Vdc voltage is the shorter the pre-charging time will be. In use, a method for powering a motor 1 connected to the control unit 100 of the vehicle, in particular a method which allows the switching ON of the motor 1 , minimising the rush currents, comprises a step of sending the instruction 11 from the control unit 100 to the pre-charging circuit 10 using the interface 8.

The method comprises a step of switching the pre-charging circuit 10 to the closed configuration on the basis of the first instruction 11 in such a way that the voltage at the terminals of the corresponding powered line VdcLIN (Figure 1 ), VdcPWM (Figure 2) or PWM (Figure 3) can charge the capacitors 5.

When the voltage at the terminals of the capacitors 5 has reached a predetermined value, the power driver 4 is powered by the closing of the relay 103.

Preferably, for the embodiments of Figures 1 and 2, the step of powering the power driver 4 occurs when a difference between the power supply voltage VdcLIN or VdcPWM and the voltage at the terminals of the capacitors 5 is between a first and a second predetermined value.

More specifically, in the embodiments of Figures 1 and 2, when the relay 103 is open, that is, the motor 1 is not powered and there is no voltage at the pins "+" and there is in any case the power voltage +VdcLIN or +VdcPWM of the transceiver 8 LIN or PWM.

The transceiver 8 is therefore powered and, through the circuits included in the driver 4, the microprocessor 7 is also powered.

When the control unit 100, outside the motor 1 , sends the "pre-charging request" message to the interface 8, the message is re-transmitted to the microprocessor 7 which, using the driver 13, the switch 1 1 and the resistor 13, starting from the voltage +VdcLIN or +VdcPWM, controls and actuates the pre-charging of the capacitors 5.

The voltage of the capacitors 5 is compared with +VdcLIN or +VdcPWM during the pre-charging step which is considered completed when the two voltages are coincident, that is to say, their deviation falls within a predetermined range.

At this point, the microprocessor 7 transmits a message "recharging has been performed" to the LIN or PWM interface 8, using the signal S2, which the interface 8 repeats to the external control unit 100.

The control unit 100 can therefore control the application of the supply voltage to the motor 1 by the closing of the relay 103.

Considering the embodiment in Figure 3, the first instruction 11 is sent to a logic port of the communication interface in the form of a high level signal, at a predetermined voltage value Vdc, for example 13 Volts, which constitutes the power supply voltage for charging the capacitor 5.

The step of powering the power driver 4 occurs after a predetermined pre- charging time, as a function of the voltage Vdc, from the switching of the pre-charging circuit 10 to the closed configuration, since, on the basis of the design data, the voltage at the terminals of the capacitor 5 reach a predetermined value after that predetermined time.

Basically, when the motor 1 is not powered, that is to say, the relay 103 is open and there is no voltage at the pins "+" and there is no power supply voltage of the interface 8 PWM and of the microprocessor 7.

When the external control unit 100, equipped with an output stage which is able to dispense a current sufficient to support the pre-charging of the capacitors 5, for example the above-mentioned push pull stage, sends to the PWM interface 8 the high level, that is, the PWM input is kept at the positive voltage Vdc for a suitable period of time, the microprocessor 7 is powered through the circuits included in the driver 4.

The microprocessor 7 immediately activates and controls the pre-charging of the capacitors 5.

During this step, the pre-charging process is powered through the PWM signal which, in this context, adopts the meaning of power supply voltage Vdc as it is maintained high.

After a suitably calculated period of time, during which the pre-charging is completed, the external control unit 100 controls the application of the power supply voltage to the motor 1 by the closing of the relay 103 and the input PWM may thereby start to receive/transmit modulated signals, for example commands, feedback, diagnostics.

The presence of the pre-charging circuit in the motor, suitably controlled by the control unit of the vehicle, allows the rush currents to be significantly reduced.

In this way, less costly relays can be adopted which are also more reliable, as they are less stressed during the operations for switching ON the fan. If an additional power supply is not provided, in the electronic card, it is possible to use the control unit to generate a voltage which can charge the capacitors.