electronica looks set to be the best place to discover the latest developments in power supplies

6th July 2008
ES Admin
electronica will present what is expected to be the most extensive range of products both for power supply developers and OEM users of all types of electronic power supply systems. Visitors to the world’s largest electronics event will find practically every product and service in one place. Such products and services range from the latest passive and active electronic components and power management and performance semiconductors through to suitable development tools, all of which are required for successful power supply design.
OEM’s looking for complete power supplies for their next product generation should also find a solution at electronica 2008: Power supply units, AC/DC and DC/DC converters, batteries, storage batteries and closed or open frame uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) – around 250 exhibitors are expected to attend electronica 2008 and will present simply everything which can be assigned to the “power supply” segment. In addition to these, other exhibitors classified in other technology areas such as semiconductor manufacturers, will present important power supply components in their product portfolio.

The market for power supply solutions is huge since, ultimately, no electrical system can be operated without power. Current market figures demonstrate the vital importance of this segment. Market researchers from IMS Research are anticipating an annual growth rate of 10% alone for integrated circuits (ICs) used in power supply systems during the next five years. In particular, the rising demand in the area of consumer electronics, the increasingly complex design of power management systems and growing interest in energy-efficient products will catapult the world market for voltage-regulating systems to a volume of $15 billion by 2011.

In the area of complete systems, the submarket for uninterruptible power supply systems actually grew by 20% last year. The global volume of this submarket currently amounts to around $7.4 billion.

The market is placing increasingly higher demands on suppliers of high-performance electronics in regard to power density, efficiency, the lowest possible footprint, performance quality and reliability. electronica 2008 will present related solutions such as new converter structures and high-performance semiconductors. More and more importance is also being attached to standardization. A higher standardization level is attained, for example, by using modular power electronics building blocks (PEBBS).

Current converter technologies will also play an important role in solar power generation in the future. The market for photovoltaics is currently experiencing growth rates of between 30% and 50%. In 2007 alone, solar systems with a total output of between 3 and 4 gigawatts (GW) were installed. The total capacity of the systems installed throughout the world corresponds to 10GW (as of 2007). Around 40 different types of power supply ICs are used to convert solar energy into electricity. They include ICs with low-frequency converters (50 Hz or 60 Hz), high-frequency converters (16 kHz to 100 kHz) and transformerless ICs. Transformerless ICs attain an efficiency of 97% (with bipolar switching) or 98% (with unipolar switching) whereas low-frequency and high-frequency converters have a maximum efficiency of up to 95%. The future standard target will be at least 98%. The trend among high-performance semiconductors in solar electricity generation is also towards the replacement of the traditional basic material of silicon by silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) for the benefit of reduced on resistance and lower conduction voltage.

The term “energy harvesting“ summarizes methods in which energy can be generated from the immediate environment. Microgenerators called “energy scavengers“ can generate energy from light, sound, temperature differences or vibrations in order to replace or supplement batteries. For example, these energy scavengers will, in future, be able to charge mobile phones as people walk, drive heart pacemakers through the beating of a person’s own heart or feed waste heat and engine vibrations to air conditioning systems or other electronics in automobiles. Even though this topic sounds highly futuristic, the first representatives of a new generation of power management ICs are already available. They accept input voltages right down to 300mV and supply a maximum input voltage of 5.5V

Next year will be a key milestone in the automotive industry as Mercedes will launch its S 400 Hybrid, a luxury hybrid limousine, as a standard model. Mercedes will be the world’s first automobile manufacturer to power an electric engine with an efficient and fuel-saving lithium ion battery. The basis for this milestone in automotive history comes from the electronics industry since the lithium ion batteries used on a wide scale in telecommunications and consumer electronics will call for a much higher level of durability, robustness and safety in the automotive sector. In this respect electronica 2008 will also feature major development trends relating to batteries and rechargeable batteries, as well as the related charging technologies.

Power packs for medical electronics must be mobile, efficient and compact, but also satisfy higher insulation requirements (IEC 60601 – Basic safety and essential performance of medical electrical equipment). They must be quiet (coupled with optimum cooling) and have low leakage current. Integration of configuration, control and monitoring functions in DC/DC and AC/DC converters with lower costs is also a prerequisite along with maximum efficiency and a smaller design. This clear technological and economic trend will be a central theme in every exhibition hall during electronica 2008.

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