Today, with the continued drive for more technical features in conventional cars and the increasing electrification of the drive train, the challenges facing electronics designers are ever increasing. Alongside a drive to lower costs and smaller form factors, MLCC’s are being used in ever harsher applications and in ever increasing numbers. This is driving board population density upwards and with it concerns for reliability and particularly the likelihood of mechanical cracking. Thus electronic designers are now demanding flexibility that exceeds the current Automotive Electronic Council bend test specification (AEC-Q200 Rev D June 1, 2010).
In our last article about electric vehicles (EV), we talked about using DC link capacitors as an intermediary buffer in power converters. Today’s topic covers another useful power module component – the snubber capacitor. Snubbers are energy-absorbing circuits used to protect electronics from voltage spikes and transients caused by turning a switch from the On to Off state. Opening a switch intrinsically induces a high voltage across the device, and the snubber provides an alternate flow path for the excess energy to be absorbed by the snubber capacitor and dissipated by a resister or other load.
In electric vehicle (EV) applications, filter capacitors are a special type of component commonly used as input and output capacitors. Also known as noise suppression or electromagnetic interference (EMI) filters, these particular capacitors act to remove noise and other unwanted signals on the line. On the high voltage alternating current (AC) side of a system, the capacitors often provide EMI filtering, whereas on the direct current (DC) side of a subsystem, they serve to smooth ripple components of the AC and filter out noise.
The advantages of multilayer ceramic (MLC) capacitors over plastic film types include their smaller physical size, lower inductance, and ability to operate at higher temperatures. These advantages make MLC capacitors very well suited to high power applications, such as power converter systems in electric (EV) and hybrid electric (HEV) vehicles.
The worldwide electric vehicle (EV) market is exploding in demand and mainstream adoption as governments push for fuel economy improvements and automotive companies look for new market opportunities. According to Forbes, “by 2020, EVs are likely to cost the same as conventional fuel powered equivalents.” Major manufacturers – like General Motors, Toyota, and BMW – plan to release “a mouthwatering potential of 400 models and estimated global sales of 25 million by 2025.” For EV design engineers and purchasing agents, this drive towards increased electrification results in the challenge of finding cutting-edge components that can handle increasing temperatures, voltage, and power without sacrificing reliability, availability, and footprint.