New power conversion techniques aim to transform electricity grids into interactive and unified supply networks. Necessary building block for multilevel converter topologies for utility grid interface of renewable energy sources are high efficiency isolated DC/DC converter modules. A collaborative team including Carnegie Mellon University, Spang & Co. Magnetics, Los Alamos National Labs, and the University of Pittsburgh worked to target development of a DC/DC converter module suitable for system power levels of 1-2MW. Magnetic property improvements were achieved in melt-spun nanocomposites targeting 300kHz+ frequencies by field and mechanical processing approaches combined with chemistry optimization to facilitate operation at 100 kHz and scaled to geometries and volumes needed for MW power conversion using state-of-the-art switching devices.
As a key collaborator in the project, the University of Pittsburgh was tasked with assessing the economic impact of higher frequency operation for energy conversion for MW-scale power applications, including considerations for site preparation and installation. Emphasis was placed on total system integration costs, specifically for MW-scale power applications. The economic assessment considered the impacts of components, topology, layout, footprint, losses, site preparation, installation, and related aspects. Comparative analysis to standard 60 Hz based conversion systems were made, providing a guideline for development of novel conversion systems in the future.