ST's SiC power electronics selected for electric vehicles

Friday, 04 October, 2019 | Supplied by: STMicroelectronics Pty Ltd


Semiconductor company STMicroelectronics has been chosen by the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance to supply high-efficiency silicon-carbide (SiC) power electronics for onboard chargers (OBCs) in the Alliance’s upcoming electric vehicles.

EVs need an OBC to handle charging from standard roadside charge points, when a dedicated home-charging system or super-charger is not available. The time to recharge is determined by the OBC power rating; the units in today’s EVs have ratings between about 3 and 9 kW.

SiC, meanwhile, is a power-semiconductor technology that enables highly efficient power switches (MOSFETs) and rectifiers (diodes). It is a wide bandgap (WBG) semiconductor material that works at high frequencies, can withstand high operating temperatures and has smaller form factors than traditional silicon-based materials, giving component designers a good deal of control over device characteristics. Compared to conventional silicon, WBG semiconductors can withstand higher applied voltages in relation to device size, which allows lightweight components to be rugged as well as energy-efficient.

Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi plans to use SiC power technology to build more efficient and compact high-power OBCs that will further increase attractiveness of electric vehicles for the users by cutting battery-charging time and enhancing driving range, while giving designers more freedom to style the vehicle and optimise packaging, weight distribution and vehicle drivability. As the alliance’s chosen partner for advanced SiC technology, ST will provide design-in support to help maximise OBC performance, while also supplying associated components including standard silicon devices.

“As the pioneer and global leader in zero-emission electric vehicles, our objective remains to be the number one provider of mainstream mass-market and affordable EVs around the world,” said Philippe Schulz, Alliance VP Design Electric & Hybrid Powertrain.

“The small size, light weight and high energy efficiency we can achieve using ST’s SiC technology in our OBC, combined with the increased battery efficiency, will enable us to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles by reducing charging times and extend the range of our EVs.”

“SiC technology can help the world by reducing dependence on fossil fuels and increasing energy efficiency,” added Marco Cassis, President, Sales, Marketing, Communications and Strategy Development, STMicroelectronics.

“Building on our long cooperation, we are now working with Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi to realise the many advantages SiC can bring to EVs. Moreover, this commitment helps ensure success by increasing the economies of scale to deliver superior-performing SiC-based circuits and systems that are also cost-effective and affordable.”

The OBCs with ST’s SiC are scheduled to enter volume production in 2021.

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