E-MOBILITY “We support our customers in their rapid transformation to electromobility”
The demands on power electronics are constantly evolving with emerging trends. In this interview, Frank Puschmann, Strategic Product Manager Electromobility & Electric Drives at dSPACE, talks about the challenges this poses for customers and how they can be solved.
Buzz topics such as the modernization of energy grids or electromobility are strongly related to power electronics. How does this affect the business of a test solution supplier?
We are seeing strong demand not only from our established automotive customers, but also from providers of charging infrastructure and in the renewable energy sector. Power electronics is the central component for everything. The necessary development and test solutions are increasingly coming into focus at dSPACE.
Tight timelines with regard to significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are being imposed on national and international levels. What does that mean for you?
It makes our job more challenging and complex, because our customers have to increasingly take into account the complex interplay between the energy grid, charging infrastructure, battery management, and electric drive systems in their development and test tasks. For this purpose, they need a partner who can think ahead with all of these issues and provide an appropriate end-to-end solution.
How do your customers benefit from this?
They benefit from increasing development productivity and can develop faster. Because coordinated solutions with standardized operating concepts, and the consistent reuse of models and software for SIL, HIL, and test solutions at the power level help streamline the work of the development departments. In addition, our customers benefit from the fact that requirements from a wide range of industries are translated into solutions at dSPACE. Network simulation is also becoming increasingly interesting for the automotive industry. Conversely, manufacturers of converters for regenerative energy have to embrace decentralized storage technologies – our solutions for this have been established in the automotive industry for many years.
What exactly does your offer entail?
We offer solutions for the complete chain – from energy generation and storage to the electric drive system. Everything is included, from the prototypical controller implementation of a wind turbine to validation, from onboard chargers in vehicles and DC rapid charging stations, which have to be compatible with the worldwide variety of different charging infrastructures, to a highly dynamic motor emulator, which forms the perfect symbiosis between simulation and reality. Our solutions offer the best flexibility with maximum performance, either based on the controller interface or at full power.
Where do you see the main challenges?
One challenge is the interoperability of the systems. With our new Smart Charging Solution, our customers test onboard chargers for all relevant charging standards. On request, we combine this with real power electronics. This lets us reproduce the many different charging stations.
Furthermore, new semiconductors are always a challenge. Power electronics are operated at ever higher switching frequencies for efficiency reasons. Accordingly, we also make our simulation models faster. In the field of motors or power electronics, we use our modeling approaches to perform highly accurate and fast simulations on powerful FPGAs.
How do you support your customers in validating the entire systems consisting of hardware and software?
With our battery and engine emulators, we can validate not only the software but also the hardware components of a complete system. For validation, we use patented emulation memory systems which have been developed in-house for the precise reproduction of voltages and currents. This means that power electronics can be tested at full electrical power for all applications, since the real-time model is the only thing that determines which current flows or which voltage is present.
Shorter charging times and higher battery capacities also place new demands on the battery management system. How does this affect the requirements for the test systems?
Good battery management definitely makes the difference at the charging station. The battery has to be perfectly conditioned for it to be charged at maximum power. Because differences in charging time between manufacturers are directly perceived by the customer, all OEMs place a strong focus on battery management. We have long-standing experience in the field of battery management systems and we will certainly continue to be an innovation partner for our customers. This year, we are planning to release even more precise and faster test solutions for higher voltages and currents.
How important are e-mobility solutions for your company?
They have the same value for us as for our customers. The topic of electromobility is our top priority. That is why we are investing massively in the advancement of our portfolio, in engineering services, and are continuously building up our team of experts. With scalable end-to-end solutions, it is our aim at dSPACE to make an important contribution to electromobility by mastering the complex interoperation of electric motors, battery management, power electronics, and charging infrastructure. Together with our customers, we want to shape and master the rapid transformation to electromobility.