Other news of interest

2020 International Future Energy Challenge IFEC 2020
Posted: 2019-10-3
Call for Proposals

2020 International Future Energy Challenge
College Student Competition http://energychallenge.weebly.com/

IFEC Introduction
IFEC is an international student competition for innovation, conservation, and effective use of electrical energy, which is open to college and university student teams from recognized undergraduate engineering programs in any location.

The competition is sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Power Electronics Society (PELS), Power & Energy Society (PES), Industry Application Society (IAS) and Power Sources Manufacturers Association (PSMA).

Topic: Power Supply for Nano Satellites
Preliminary Specifications:

  • 2x DC inputs: Max power < 60 W, Max current < 3 A, voltage 20 V
  • 3x DC outputs: 3.3 V @ 5 A, 5 V @ 4 A, and 8 V @ 2600 mAh
  • Functionalities: MPPT control (uniform and non-uniform solar irradiance)
  • Functionalities: Battery charging and discharging
  • Judgment criteria: Functionality, efficiency, power density, and cost.

Final Competition Location
Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark

Participation is on a proposal basis. Those schools that are interested must submit a proposal to the topic chair before the proposal deadline. Each Proposal will be judged by a distinguished panel of volunteer experts from the IEEE and from industry. Schools with successful proposals will be notified and qualified for the rest of the competition. Deadline for each period will be posted on the IFEC website. The finalist teams will be invited to a competition event in summer of 2020.

There will be a Grand Prize of $10,000 and three additional awards granted at $5,000, $3,000 and $1,000 each.

Important Notice:

  • Each university can support only one team.
  • Each team should have at least 4 members.
  • Interdisciplinary teams are encouraged.
  • Teams should be composed of primarily undergraduate students.
  • Graduate students can participate in team to provide high-level support.

Workshop at ECCE 2019                         September 29, 2019
Letter of Intent Deadline                          November 11, 2019
Proposal Deadline                                   November 25, 2019
Notification of Acceptance                       December 21, 2019
Workshop at APEC 2020                         March 15, 2020
Notification of Finalists                             April 15, 2020
Final Competition                                     July 20-22, 2020

Safe Power in Magnetic Resonance Imaging Environment
Posted: 2019-9-10


From the smallest to the largest, all electronic equipment requires power supplies, and with the increase in the amount of wireless connected devices deployed in the medical environment, electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) has become a big concern for all users. In the vast majority of applications the power supplies' EMC is manageable, but in some extremely demanding areas such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), the challenges for power supplies manufacturers are twofold, not to disturb the sensitive equipment, but also not to be disturbed by the multi tesla (T) magnetic field generated by the core of the MRI.

How to guarantee that power supplies exposed to such extreme conditions will do the job?

From Conrad Roentgen to Raymond Damadian

As long ago as 1895, Conrad Roentgen found that an emitting discharge tube contained in a sealed box and radiating in the direction of a paper plate covered on one side with barium platinocyanide became fluorescent, and even when an object was placed between the tube and the plate a picture was obtained - the first X-ray. Fast forward to 1977 when Raymond Damadian was performing equally groundbreaking experiments with his Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) body scanner to produce much more detailed images of the inside of a human body. In both cases the images obtained have contributed greatly to improve medical diagnostics, the quality of treatment and peoples' lives.

From the original X-Ray equipment and the Damadian NMR to the latest MRI technology offering extremely high-resolution imagery, all share a common need for a large variety of power supplies delivering from a few watts to multiple kilowatts. As the level of imaging resolution has improved, MRI manufacturers are designing new equipment placed very close to intense magnetic fields, requiring very stable power that does not interfere with the data acquisition process.

Operating a switching power supply in very high magnetic field environments is very challenging and even reaches certain technical and physical limits as we know them today. To surpass these limits, power designers are exploring new paths, combining state of the art power conversion topologies with advanced software and digital technologies.

This is a very interesting area for power designers to explore, but before revealing the magic power solution, let us understand how MRI works and what challenges face power designers in such extreme environments.

From discovery to practice

Figure 01 - 1974 Damadian patent

X-Ray equipment has contributed to impressive medical progress, but the resultant images are limited to identifying solids, and exposure to radiation is dangerous for both patients and operators. These drawbacks provided the original motivation for the physician and scientist Dr. Raymond Damadian to explore a new way to scan the human body by researching the properties and behavior of an atomic nuclei when exposed to a magnetic field. After more than 10 years of research and a mix of successes and failure, in March 1972 he applied for a patent for an "Apparatus and method for detecting cancer in tissue" which USPTO granted in February 1974 (US3789832) (Figure 01).  "An apparatus and method in which a tissue sample is positioned in a nuclear induction apparatus whereby selected nuclei are energized from their equilibrium states to higher energy states through nuclear magnetic resonance. By measuring the spin-lattice relaxation time and the spin-spin relaxation time as the energized nuclei return to their equilibrium states, and then comparing these relaxation times with their respective values for known normal and malignant tissue, an indication of the presence and degree of malignancy of cancerous tissue can be obtained."

When Nikola Tesla revealed the evidence of the rotating magnetic field in 1882, he could hardly have imagined that 90 years later it would lead to Dr. Raymond Damadian using a magnetic field to see inside bodies! And for sure, no one could have imagined the level of resolution that modern MRIs have achieved.

Let's look at how an MRI works and how power supply designers have invented new power solutions able to operate in multi tesla environments.

Hydrogen nuclei are the key in MRI!

As we learned in school, the human body is composed of 70% water. Water molecules are made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom (H2O). An MRI machine can identify hydrogen nuclei contained in water molecules, which have a quantum physics property called spin. We can compare the Hydrogen proton to the planet earth rotating on its axis, with a north and a south pole. Under normal circumstances, these hydrogen proton bar-magnets spin in the body with their axes randomly aligned (Figure 02.1).

Figure 02 - Hydrogen nuclei polarization during the MRI activation phases

When the patient's body is placed in a strong magnetic field the protons' axes all line up. This uniform alignment creates a magnetic vector oriented along the axis of the scanner (Figure 02.2). Depending on the object under observation, the MRI scanners have different field strengths, usually between 0.5 and 3 tesla (T) (note that the gauss unit is often used as well: 1 tesla = 10.000 gauss). The latest generation of MRI reach six tesla, thus Neurospin brain research is using 11.7 T, which is 234.000 times the Earth's field, and in the case of spectroscopy even up to 20 T. The main magnetic field is referenced as vertical or B0  (B zero).

When additional energy in the form of a radio wave is added to the magnetic field (B0), the magnetic vector is deflected. The radio wave frequency that causes the hydrogen nuclei to resonate is dependent on the element sought and the strength of the magnetic field (Figure 02.3). Two magnetics fields are used, the Gradient (B1) and the RF field.

Figure 03 – Brain high resolution picture obtain after data acquisition

When the radio frequency source is switched off, the magnetic vector returns to its resting state, and this causes a signal (also a radio wave) to be emitted. It is this signal which is used to create the MR images. Receiver coils are used around the body part in question to act as aerials to improve the detection of the emitted signal (Figure 02.4). The intensity of the received signal is then plotted on a grey scale and cross-sectional images are built up (Figure 03).


Multiple transmitted radio frequency pulses can be used in sequence to emphasize particular tissues or abnormalities. A different emphasis occurs because different tissues relax at different rates when the transmitted radio frequency pulse is switched off.

This simple description highlights the level of the strong magnetic fields involved in the hostile environment of MRI applications, which power supplies designers must take into consideration when developing products for such demanding applications.

Forces in power

To understand what power designers have to consider, it is important to understand the magnetic and electromagnetic forces involved with an MRI scanner and how they can interact with the power supply, which can also interact with the sensitive data collected by the different sensors (Figure 04).

Figure 04 – Simplified representation of an MRI equipment and the different fields contributing to create the final image

Master magnetic field (B0)
B0 is generated by a permanent or superconducting magnet and is oriented along the main axis of the scanner (Z axis). Depending on the application, field intensity varies from 0.5 T up to 20 T.


Gradient fields (B1)
B1 is generated by a specific combination of coils in the three axis X, Y and Z. The pulsed frequencies are around 100 KHz with intensity as low as few mT/m. The frequency is adjusted to suit the object being examined and the frequency can be modulated.

RF field
The RF field is generated by a separate coil in the X and Y-axis. The frequency range is comprised between 64 MHz and 299 MHz with micro-tesla intensities.

How to provide power in such environments?

To avoid interference, the best practice in powering MRI is to avoid alternative voltage/current (AC) and to only use continuous voltage/current (DC), even for lighting. Master power supplies are traditionally positioned outside the shielded operation room and the DC voltage is distributed to the electronic equipment via shielded cables.

To adjust the voltage from the main DC line to a specific load (e.g. 24 VDC to 12 VDC), the old generation of MRI equipment used a large variety of linear step-down voltage regulators, which reduced the risk of disturbances, but inherent to their technology is a very low energy efficiency and high power dissipation. Requiring more power and better energy utilization, new generations of equipment have adopted switching power regulators, which have improved power efficiency but have also became a source of potential disturbances! When the power supply is far enough from B0 and sensitive equipment, efficient shielding and grounding can prevent interference, but when the power supply is located close or even within B0, then power designers are facing real challenges.

MRI impact on the power supply

Master magnetic field (B0)
A switching power supply transforms a DC voltage into an AC one, and then rectifies it to DC. During the conversion process the transferred energy is stored in a transformer composed of a coil(s) and a core, usually made of ferrite. The high density of B0 interacts directly with all ferromagnetic components, saturating iron-cores and making it impossible to transfer the energy and even becoming a short circuit.

Gradient fields (B1)
The gradient field frequency is very much the same as the average switching frequency of conventional power supplies but induces a 'current storm effect' in cables and conductive areas. This also affects the switching performance of the power stage resulting in signal distortion, heat and in most of the case short circuit of the switching components.

RF field
Due to its much higher frequency, the RF field is less harmful for the power supply though induced currents could result in the form of similar collateral defects as generated by the B1 field.

Power supply impact on MRI

Master magnetic field (B0)
Even though the Larmor frequency is 42.58 MHz/Tesla for protons (hydrogen nuclei), there is a risk that the power supply switching spikes can impact the signal with the consequence of generating artifacts that affect image quality and resolution.

Gradient fields (B1)
Because the switching frequency of a standard power supply is in the same range (100 KHz) of the gradient filed, that could interfere with the signal generated by the gradient loop, and as a consequence modify the encoded signal, resulting in image artifacts.

RF field
In the case of RF, the harmonics of the fundamental switching power supply could interfere with the RF coil loop causing alteration of the MRI RF signal and a negative effect on image quality.

How to make a power supply that works?

Taking into consideration the different parameters, it is obvious that a suitable power solution will have to exclude ferromagnetic components and its switching frequency must not interfere with the MRI signals.

Because conventional magnetic cores will saturate when exposed to the B0 field energy, air-core inductors, having no ferromagnetic core material, should be considered. One downside of air-cored inductors is their low inductance values, which can be compensated by designing a multi air-cored power stage operating in parallel. Controlling multi-parallel air-cored power supplies requires the implementation of the latest digital control technology, offering a high degree of flexibility in how the different power channels operate. Digital control allows designers to adapt the profile of the power supply to specific conditions.

Figure 05a shows an example of an advanced air-core power supply, the PRBX GB350. To accommodate the specific MRI, B0, B1 and RF specifications that it has been designed for, the GB350 has a fundamental switching frequency of 600kHz. With such a switching frequency and its four-phase interleave mode, the GB350 has a resultant output frequency of 2.4MHz. This allows easier filtering and extremely fast regulation response times. The unit also includes EMI shielding to lower radiated emission and prevent any risk of artifacts (Figure 05b).

Figure 05a – Triple outputs, multi-phases, PRBX coreless power supply sustaining B0 field
Figure 05b – PRBX coreless power supply sustaining B0 field shielded to protect against interferences

In conclusion

Figure 06 – MRI equipment with advanced data acquisition requires very stable power supplies able to operate in high magnetic field (Source: iStock / baranozdemir / PRBX)

In less than 50 years, the progress of the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner has been impressive and image resolution quality, astonishing (Figure 06). By permanently innovating, the power supply industry has contributed to delivering efficient, sustainable and safe power to very demanding applications such as B0 field conditions. Ultra-high field strength systems with a new generation of sensors will require extremely fast response power sources switching at 25 MHz to avoid harmonics in the safety band and I can foresee a new generation of coreless power supplies combining air-core, digital control and the use of Gallium Nitride (GaN) transistors.

There is no doubt, power designers developing power solutions for medical imagery systems will continue to make magic a reality!


  • US patent 3,789,832 - Feb. 5, 1974 – Damadian – Apparatus and method for detecting cancer in tissue
  • Anne Perrin and M. Souques (eds.), Electromagnetic Fields, Environment and Health, DOI: 10.1007/978-2-8178-0363-0_2
  • Robert R. Edelman - The History of MR Imaging as Seen through the Pages of Radiology - Radiology: Volume 273: Number 2 (Supplement)—November 2014

Provided by Patrick LeFévre
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Powerbox





Forms vs. Function: Battling the Paperwork Deluge on Restricted Substances
Posted: 2019-9-10

Almost once a week or more, the phone rings or an email arrives, usually from a top name brand company or on behalf of one, asking about our product's compliance with environmental and hazardous materials regulations. I [Kevin] work for a semiconductor manufacturer, so the requests concern components we're supplying to a customer. But anyone supplying any components, subassemblies or finished electronic instruments or equipment could be subject to such inquiries. The request comes from a far-off land, because it's been outsourced to someone to get a form filled out. It seems this is more fun and monkey motion from our friends in corporate finance and legal departments.

The good news is that people are paying attention to restricted materials regulations. However, the bad news is that these OEM customers are unwilling to subscribe to a supply-chain service such as SiliconExpert, which would allow them to have all the necessary materials information at their fingertips. They probably figure it is less money to get their suppliers to do it for free, using telemarketers to ask us to fill out an extensive check list that someone dreamed up as the standard for the Mr. Big company. The intention was to get every supplier to fill out this form with the same info on it.

The problem is compounded by the fact that different individuals working for the same company will contact us at different times asking us to fill out forms for different parts. As a supplier we have even asked them, "Can you send us a list of all the parts you use at one time so we can work on a complete list for you?" The response has been, "No, all I have here is part ABC123. Please fill out the form." Next week they call back with another part and don't even know their company asked us for something else last week. The process is usually not very organized.

Naturally, as suppliers we balk at these requests. After all, the information the customer is requesting has already been published on our company's website. So, we try to point the customer there. However, almost every attempt at telling them "here are the links which list all the information you are requesting," results in them responding, "yes but you must fill out our form in our format". What they don't say is why they insist we fill out their form. If they did, the answer would be "because I have no idea what any of this means and I will be calling people next week asking them for compliance information relating to health insurance."

Then too, we can't help fill out everyone's form because each one is different. But wouldn't it be nice if we had a standard form everyone could agree on? Maybe EICA (the Electrical Industry Certifications Association) or some other organization could establish a standardized form to simplify our lives a bit? While we wait for such a form to be developed, in the spirit of helping (without the ability to fill out every possible form that might cross your desk), we offer the following list of materials resources (see the table). These are the websites for the various global regulations that your customers may ask you about and these sites provide the information you'll need to help you fill out the RoHS, prop 65 Reach, and plethora of other requirements concerning restricted materials.

As noted previously, these regulations are not just for semiconductors. They apply to all components including passive electromechanical devices, cable assemblies, connectors and any parts going into an assembly. That includes hardware, plastic cases, rubber feet, purchased assemblies, batteries, power supplies and anything that goes into the box that you ship your product in. And they also mean the box, plus line cord and packaging materials—even the user's manual!

If you supply any of these items to a company that makes a product, then your product must be cleared for compliance with the targeted regulations, and you are required to fill out the tick box check list that company needs. This activity may not be fun, but visiting the regulatory websites and getting familiar with the requirements may take some of the pain out of the process.


Regulation Website
RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substance) http://eur-lex.europa.eu
REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization of Chemical) https://echa.europa.eu/
WEEE (Waste Electrical & Electronic Equipment) http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/weee/
Proposition 65 https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65
JIG-101 (Joint Industry Guide, Ed. 4.1) http://www.ipc.org
PFOS/PFOA (Perfluorooctane solfonetes/ Perfluorooctanoic Acid) http://eur-lex.europa.eu
PAH (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons) http://eur-lex.europa.eu
POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) http://ec.europa.eu
PPW (Packaging and Packaging Waste) http://ec.europa.eu/
EU Battery Directive http://eur-lex.europa.eu
Table. List of worldwide restricted materials regulations affecting electronic product development.
Kevin Parmenter
Director of Applications Engineering
Taiwan Semiconductor America

  Jim Spangler
Spangler Prototype Inc. (SPI)

Editor's Note: This article was first published in the July 2019 issue of How2Power Today (http://www.how2power.com/newsletters/index.php).


Remembering Douglas McIlvoy
Posted: 2019-9-10

It's with a heavy heart to report the passing of Douglas "Doug" McIlvoy. Doug passed away on August 28th due to complications from a recent heart operation.

PSMA first came in contact with Doug when he was the vice president of OECO Corporation in Milwaukie, OR. He later led a management buyout of the business in 1995 after serving there for 26 years. Years later he founded VXI Electronics and Power Electronics Strategies while staying active in our industry. One of his early volunteer responsibilities was serving as PSMA Industry-Education Committee Co-chair.

A very early member of the PSMA, Doug wore many volunteer hats in broadening the recognition of PSMA over the years. He was part of the team engaged in the PSMA relationship with the Applied Power Electronics Conference (APEC) and the merger of APEC with the IEEE PELS and IEEE IAS societies.

Doug became a member of the PSMA Board of Directors in 1990 and served as Vice President in 1995 and later as PSMA Chairman in 1996-1997. After leaving the Board, Doug continued to serve as a member of the PSMA Advisory Council.

Doug served as APEC Program Chair in 1993 where the Conference and Trade Show was held in San Diego. The following year he was General Chair of APEC 1994 held in Orlando.

Being in the "power" industry it is no surprise to learn that Doug enjoyed working on muscle and sports cars when he was younger. My kind of guy.

Doug's family includes his wife Beth, 3 sons (Sean, Scott, Lane), step-daughter (Missy Chartier), 6 grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren and his sister Sheila Warmuth.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday September 21 at 11:00 at the Highland Baptist Church in Redmond, Oregon.

Provided by Larry Gilbert,
former Board Member PSMA,
APEC and IEEE Working Group Chairman.




About Our Members
Posted: 2019-9-6


GaN Systems is the global leader in GaN power semiconductors with the largest portfolio of transistors that uniquely address the needs of today's energy-intensive industries including data centers, automotive, renewable energy, industrial, and consumer electronics. GaN Systems' award-winning power transistors are the building blocks of change for the design of a new generation of smaller, lower cost, and more efficient power systems that these markets now demand, and that are not possible with legacy silicon-based approaches. GaN Systems is dedicated to transforming transistor performance and delivering the innovation possibilities that come from unprecedented levels of energy efficiency.  This will enable companies to not only create wholly new kinds of products that impact their fiscal bottom-line, but also revolutionize their industries, and in the process, change the world's relationship with energy and its impact on climate change and delivering on the social values import to global citizens.


GaN Systems has the industry's broadest and most comprehensive portfolio of GaN power transistors with both 100 V and 650 V product ranges, including the world's highest current rated power semiconductor, the 650 V, 150 A GaN in the market.

100V GaN Devices:

650V GaN Devices:

Design Tools

Microchip delivers the next generation in digital power conversion with scalable solutions that solve problems in a wide range of applications.  Its power solutions range from microcontrollers performing supervision and sequencing for the most basic level of intelligent power control/integration, to the most advanced digital control topologies with digital control engines that integrate ADCs, digital control algorithms, and PWM generators to close the loop with firmware. Offering includes solutions for:

  • Digital Control of Analog Regulators
  • DEPA Controllers
  • Core Independent Peripheral (CIP) Hybrid Power Controllers
  • Full Digital Power using Microchip's dsPIC® Digital Signal Controllers (DSCs) for the highest available performance in applications with stringent efficiency requirements, including AC-DC or DC-DC converters and power inverters

High-Performance Analog/Mixed-signal ICs for Space

Microchip also offers a family of ICs through its Microsemi subsidiary that combine high-precision, ultra-fast regulation and high efficiency in a radiation-tolerant package.  Products include: 

  • Space System Managers including position sensing and motor controllers and telemetry controllers 
  • 8-Channel Source Drivers
  • 8-Pair Diode Arrays
  • Voltage Regulators and PWM

Power Discretes and Modules

GaN Systems has a wide breadth of innovative design tools, evaluation kits, and reference designs that make GaN easy to incorporate into power designs and expedite go-to-market system releases. Additionally, GaN Systems' Design Center has application notes, papers and presentations, and an online circuit simulation tool that allows designers to compare application conditions by implementing specific operating values.

Newer design tools include:

  • Low current 3.5 A, 8A, and 11A device evaluation kit with EZDriveTM circuit, which eliminates the need for a discrete driver. The kit provides a low-cost solution that offers more design flexibility, reduces the number of components, and is easy to implement.
  • 1.2kW and 3kW Bridgeless Totem Pole PFC reference designs. The designs implement 650 V E-HEMTs featuring an EMI filter and surge protection that can be utilized in applications such as data center power supplies to increase efficiency, reduce systems size, and reduce system BOM cost. The evaluation boards can also start up to full load condition.
  • GaN Systems' 50 W, 100 W, and 300 W power amplifiers, small size, low cost, and high-efficiency evaluation boards are designed to support, simplify, and speed up the innovation of wireless power transfer systems. These kits combine GaN Systems power transistors with high frequency GaN E-HEMT drivers from pSemi and are designed to be consistent with AirFuel™ standards. It is targeted for lower power applications in industrial and consumer markets for items such as power tools, IoT devices, handheld terminals, medical devices and household robots.


Two technology trends are playing a dominant role in the evolution of this transportation industry: electrification and autonomous driving. EVs are expected to grow to 125 million vehicles in 2035 and 500 million in 2040. In order to avoid electricity production and distribution from becoming the new villain of the transportation pollution (CO2) story, technology is needed that enables greater energy conversion efficiency in the vehicle and at the charging station.

GaN enables the design of smaller, more efficient (50% power loss reduction), and lower cost (20% less) power systems.

Data Centers
Eight million data centers around the world are needed to manage the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data that are created each day from individual and business uses. As much as 40% of their operating costs comes from the energy needed to power and cool their racks of servers. Increasing energy efficiency and addressing issues around power density has become an increasing priority for data center operators.

In the average data center, approximately 30% of power is wasted as it travels through the multiple power conversions necessary to go from the electrical grid to the micro-processors of an individual server. Along this route, significant energy efficiency and power density can be gained in three areas: UPS (universal power supply) from the outside grid into the data center, server rack power supply, and individual server power supplies.

Using smaller and highly efficient GaN-based power supplies can increase the number of servers in a typical data center rack by 13%, increase power density by 50%, and lower power loss reduction by 40%. For a typical Tier 1 data center operator this means $461M annual savings in energy cost and $1.4B in additional revenue from greater server density.

Renewable Energy

The growth of power-reliant industries and the world's need to address climate change and pollution are transforming the demand for renewables from a secondary to a 24/7 constant source of power. More than 25% of global electricity generation is expected to come from renewable sources by 2020. Barriers to growth for the industry have come the lack of scalable and affordable technology solutions for the efficient conversion and storage of the power. Utility companies are no longer the sole providers of power, as reflected in the expected 17x growth in residential energy storage systems between now and 2023.

In comparison to Silicon transistor-based systems, the use of GaN technology provides a 50% efficiency gain (reduction in power loss) in the bi-directional power flow between the storage systems, the grid, and the location of use. This efficiency increase not only enables the design of smaller (30-50% smaller) and lower cost (10% lower) systems with greater power-density, but also provides opportunity for power provider revenue increases.

Industrial markets as diverse as manufacturers, warehouse operators, agriculture, and mining facilities are searching for new levels of energy efficiency and the ability to overcome past design barriers relating to the size, cost, performance, and precision of their hardware. For the hundreds of millions of motors and motor drives, as well as the robots and robotics needed in their increasingly intelligent and automated industrial spaces – significant hardware innovation is an essential element of an ongoing global evolution.

Overall, industry accounts for 40-50% of global energy use.  But the more than 300M motors and drives that are incorporated today into robotic arms, conveyor belts, fabrication machines – are energy inefficient, wasting up to 30% of their power. The use of GaN technology in motor drive design delivers smaller (50% smaller), more energy efficient (30% increase),  lower cost (25% lower system cost) products.

Consumer Electronics
More than 2.4B electronic devices are sold every year.  As these devices penetrate every aspect of our business and professional lives, the ability to quickly and efficiently charge those devices can become a significant competitive differentiation. Sleek power adapters and fast multi-device wireless chargers have become a consumer requirement for devices ranging from phones to laptops to appliances to handheld gear. Design, utility, and energy efficiency have evolved from premium offerings to everyday requirements from power supply manufacturers.

GaN technology elevates the performance and utility of consumer electronics devices by increasing the energy efficiency, reducing size (5x smaller) and system cost of adapters, while also providing the opportunity to incorporate new features such as wireless charging at increased power levels (50x higher).


Provided by Jim Witham, CEO, GaN Systems

TDK Electronics (previously EPCOS) develops, manufactures and markets electronic components and systems under the product brands of TDK and EPCOS, focusing on fast-growing leading-edge technology markets, which include automotive electronics, industrial electronics and consumer electronics as well as information and communications technology. Thanks to the 22,900 employees at some 20 design and production locations and an extensive sales network, the company is globally positioned – beyond the provision of standard products – to work closely with customers and create the right solutions for them.

The diverse range of TDK Electronics portfolio includes capacitors, ferrites and inductors, piezo and protection devices, as well as sensors.

Electronic components and systems are found today in almost every item of electrical equipment, where they are essential for guaranteeing perfect functionality. They perform key functions in cars and trucks, industrial machine tools and in electric railways, wind farms and photovoltaic plants, as well as in washing machines, LED lamps, smartphones, notebooks and televisions. In all these applications TDK Electronics solutions ensure the supply of power, protect electronic circuits and ensure their fault-free operation.

Capacitors are used in all fields of sensing, control and power electronics. They store electric charges and they filter currents and voltages. The portfolio includes aluminum electrolytic, aluminum polymer and film capacitors, whose main applications are in power supplies and converters. Power capacitors ensure a stable supply of power in electric trains, for example. In addition, power capacitors are the key components for the transmission of high-voltage direct current, which enables energy to be transmitted over long distances with minimal loss.



Inductors fulfill two basic functions of electronics, often simultaneously: the filtering of currents and the storage of electromagnetic energy. Ferrites, in turn, constitute the core of inductances and they bundle electromagnetic fields for the transmission of electrical signals and power. Inductors are used, among other things, in switch-mode power supplies for information and communications applications, as well as in automotive, industrial and entertainment electronics.

TDK Electronics also manufactures components that ensure electromagnetic compatibility and, consequently, the fault-free operation of all types of electronic equipment.

Piezo and protection devices protect electronic circuits against voltage spikes and current surges. The portfolio includes surge arresters and switching spark gaps, thermistors, varistors and a comprehensive array of multilayer components that include piezo-actuators, as well as CeraDiode® varistors, the extremely thin CeraPad® substrate with integrated ESD protection, and CeraLink™ capacitors. These components are essential, above all, in vehicles, industrial equipment and household appliances, but also in power engineering, and smartphones, tablets and wearables. Among the latest product highlights are PowerHap™ piezo actuators with haptic feedback, CeraPlas™ for the generation of cold plasma, and CeraCharge™, the world's first rechargeable solid-state SMD battery.

Sensors and sensor systems include temperature sensors, which, for example, are used in vehicles in systems for reducing emissions. Such components are also used in household appliances and industrial plants. To these must be added the pressure sensors and transmitters that are required primarily for the monitoring and diagnosis of pneumatic and hydraulic systems and for the control of valve and filter systems. One further field of application is medical technology, such as the machines for measuring blood pressure or for artificial respiration. Rounding out the portfolio of sensors is the Tronics product spectrum, which consists primarily of inertial sensors that, among other things, are able to sense acceleration and rotation.

More about our TDK Group Technologies, please visit: https://www.tdk.com/corp/en/about_tdk/our_ideas/index.htm

Provided by TDK Electronics


Meet Your Directors
Posted: 2019-9-6

Four members of the Board of Directors are elected at the PSMA Annual Meeting held every year during the APEC conference. Each Director serves a three-year term and is eligible to be reelected for one additional term.

At the PSMA Annual Meeting in March 2019, four new directors were elected to the PSMA board. Last issue we introduced you to Ada Cheng and Trifon Liakolpoulos. In this issue, we would like to introduce you to Ralph Taylor and Matt Wilkowski.

Ralph Taylor
 has a BSEE form North Carolina State University and is currently a Staff development Engineer at Delphi Technologies. His automotive career started with General Motors, Delco Electronics Division in 1979. He started in manufacturing development working as part of a team on the controls and software for high volume automated test and assembly equipment. (Radio testers, flip chip assembly systems, substrate assembly systems and an assembly robot for surface mount integrated circuits the fastest most repeatable robot ever tested by GM research). He then moved to advanced engineering where he was involved with controller design and software for various body and chassis systems. (Security systems, ABS controllers, Speed sensitive steering systems and window jam sensing system).

Ralph has been actively engaged in power electronics for Electric Drive Vehicles (EDVs) since 1990. He has been involved with system architectures and design of many EDV components, some of which are battery management systems, system controllers, that convert user inputs to torque commands, inverters for various EDVs including electric scooters, autos, heavy-duty trucks and off-road construction equipment and has been involved in architecting and designing power electronic systems for various demonstration electrified vehicles around the world.

He has been a Principal Investigator on several successful DOE Vehicle Technologies programs related to automotive power electronics. These programs include high temperature inverters and replacement dielectrics and manufacturing processes for DC link capacitors currently being used in electric drive vehicle inverters. He has 14 patents, has been inducted into the Delphi Technologies Hall of Fame and is a recipient of the Boss Kettering award (the highest achievable engineering award within the company). 

Ralph's experience with various programs and customers has allowed him to work with our national labs, universities and numerous research organizations related to advancing transportation power electronics. He has been involved with the Power Sources Manufactures Association (PSMA) for many years and is currently co-chair of the PSMA Transportation Power Electronics Committee.

Provided by Ralph Taylor, Staff Development Engineer, Delphi Technologies


Matt Wilkowski

Matt Wilkowski has been involved with the design and productization of power magnetic components for integration in power converters for over forty years. While at Torwico Electronics, Matt design power magnetics for aerospace and military applications. During his tenure at AT&T Bell Labs/Lucent Technologies/Tyco Electronics Power Systems from 1983 thru 2003, Matt was responsible for the technology road mapping, product design and verification, commercialization and ongoing product support of power magnetics that that were integrated in the assembly process of power converters intended for telecommunication applications. This work entailed the development of inductor and transformer product families to support wide ranges of input and output voltages for different power ranges from 1 watt through 10KW for emerging circuit topologies to take advantage of switch frequencies from 500 kHz thru 20 MHz and accommodating physical assembly integration as well as thermal integration etc. into both ac-dc and dc-dc power converters. While part of Enpirion from 2003 through 2013, Matt became more focused on the integration of power magnetics into semiconductor device packaging leading to the commercialization of   a wide product portfolio of Power System in Package (PSiP) devices. With the acquisition of Enpirion, Matt was a technology architect at Altera and transitioned to a principal engineer at Intel after the acquisition of Altera focused on the development of power magnetics for various integration levels (highly, fully, etc.,) of integrated voltage regulators (IVRs). He is currently the Magnetics Technology Architect at EnaChip and is focused on commercialization of wafer level magnetics to address various market applications.

Matt is an active member of the PSMA Magnetics Committee and has been on the organizing committee of the Power Magnetics @ High Frequency pre-APEC workshop series since the first workshop in 2016.

As a director for PSMA, I will try to use the position to give back to the industry by relying on my technology development and productization experiences over the past forty years to develop greater levels of integrated power products. This will include fostering and continuing various workshops and seminars on compelling hot topics across the various disciplines of power source product development as well as facilitating special projects deemed necessary to keep the power sources industry moving forward to meet the emerging needs of the electronics marketplace.


Provided by Matt Wilkowski, Magnetics Technology Architect, EnaChip

ABB’s integrated digital solution to support Brazil’s power grid expansion
Posted: 2019-8-26
World’s first integrated system for the power industry provided to Argo Energia will enable predictive maintenance, boost asset utilization, optimize costs and reduce system outages

ABB will provide Brazil’s electric power transmission company, Argo Energia, a complete suite of asset management software solutions to improve the efficiency and stability of their new power transmission network in Brazil. Globally, this is the first such integrated system to be deployed in a power transmission network.

Worker with tabletABB’s Ability™ Ellipse® solution for connected asset lifecycle management ensures security and reliability of key critical transmission and distribution equipment such as electrical substations, and transformers across 1,150 kilometer of power lines. Furthermore, ABB will deliver software solutions such as the MicroSCADA Pro Historian and SDM600 for two control centers, situated in the state of Piauí in the Northeastern region of the country and at Argo Energia’s São Paulo headquarters, allowing the company to continually monitor and analyze the network’s performance.

“We are committed to advancing the development of Brazil‘s electricity sector and making a positive economic, social and environmental impact in the region, and for that, ABB is a valued partner to us in Brazil,” said Marcelo Souza, CEO of Argo Energia. “Our vision is to become a widely recognized company within the sector, ensuring ethical behavior, efficiency and sustainability of our business.”

ABB will provide different ABB Ability™ solutions to Argo Energia, including for supervision, control, asset management and cybersecurity purposes. The solutions will unify the functionality of ABB’s offerings for enterprise asset management, workforce management and asset performance management. Further, they will provide Argo Energia with actionable insights to enable predictive maintenance that will boost asset utilization, drive down maintenance costs and reduce equipment failures and system outages.

“There are significant improvements in safety, process reliability, transmission quality and power availability which, in addition to assisting the utility, directly benefits the final consumer,” said Massimo Danieli, head of ABB’s Grid Automation business line within the company’s Power Grids business. “The selection of ABB’s integrated digital solution positions us as partner of choice in enabling a stronger, smarter and greener grid.”

Argo Energia’s first project, Argo 1, will span Maranhão, Piauí and Ceará, and allow the transmission of a more significant amount of electricity to almost 20 million people. The new line will connect the new wind power generation projects in these states, improving the quality and reliability of the entire Brazilian electrical system. The next evolution for Argo is also likely to include leveraging the latest ABB Ability™ Digital Enterprise that enables unified communication through a single pane of glass to make mission-critical decisions. 

ON Semiconductor Sponsors IEEE Empower a Billion Lives Competition
Posted: 2019-8-6
Energy efficient innovations key to long term solution of lack of energy access

ON Semiconductor, energy efficient innovations, announced a sponsorship to IEEE Empower a Billion Lives (EBL), an interdisciplinary, biennial global competition to identify and promote innovative solutions to energy poverty. EBL seeks solutions from innovators of all backgrounds that leverage cutting-edge technologies and are designed to scale.

Increasing energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions are driving global mandates for energy efficiency and reduced emissions, including the replacement of fossil fuels by clean energy sources. ON Semiconductor’s comprehensive portfolio of power, analog and intelligent sensors, and connectivity products are intended to minimize power consumption and improve energy efficiency.

“ON Semiconductor prioritizes addressing the challenge of achieving a high level of performance and power efficiency to enable carbon footprint reductions. The solutions seeded by EBL are fundamental to scaling clean energy in a commercially viable way,” said Ali Husain, senior manager, corporate marketing and strategy at ON Semiconductor. “We are excited to assist these novel and creative businesses which focus on providing energy access to all and look forward to the innovative technologies that might emerge.”

“We hope Empower a Billion Lives will accomplish a lot of vetting and due diligence in the energy access market, and let investors and other interested parties identify great companies to work with,” said Dr. Deepak Divan, Empower a Billion Lives’ Chair. “We also want to give innovative teams the resources and profile they need to succeed.”

Twenty-three teams from around the world have been named Global Finalists in IEEE’s Empower a Billion Lives, an innovation competition to identify and promote cutting-edge, high-impact solutions to extreme poverty and lack of access to energy in the developing world. Having succeeded in two previous stages of Empower a Billion Lives – including regional “pitch” competitions, the last of which was at IEEE Power Electronics Society’s Decentralized Energy Access Solutions workshop in Atlanta – these teams will now undertake a field test to prove their solutions in advance of the Global Final in Baltimore in September of this year.

ABB Wins Transformer Order for Off-Shore Wind Project in North Sea
Posted: 2019-6-26
High-performance transformers to be installed in a major offshore wind project that will provide clean power for up to a million homes in the UK

ABB has won an order from MHI Vestas Offshore Wind to supply its reliable, energy-efficient and compact WindSTAR transformers for installation in wind turbines in the North Sea. The order was booked in the second quarter of 2019.

Under the project, 100 transformers manufactured in ABB’s transformer factory in Vaasa, Finland, will be supplied for Moray Offshore Renewable Power’s Moray East offshore wind project. The windfarm will have a capacity to generate 950 megawatts (MW) of renewable wind power in Moray Firth (an inlet of the North Sea), 22 kilometers off the coast of Scotland. The farm will be capable of providing enough clean energy to power up to a million households and could save up to 3.3 million tons of carbon dioxide every year, compared to coal generation.

The 295 square kilometer windfarm will contain enormous wind turbines – up to 204 meters tall to the turbine’s blade-tip, each with the capacity to generate 9.5 MW of electricity at 66 kilovolts. This will be made possible by ABB’s WindSTAR transformers that are compact enough to be placed inside the wind turbine. They will increase the voltage of the turbine-generated electricity to enable efficient transmission with reduced losses.

This high power and voltage are critical in generating and transmitting power efficiently, as part of an important cost-reduction strategy which will ensure the future of clean, offshore wind generation. As such, Moray East will deliver power at £57.50 per MW-hour, less than half the cost of power generated by comparable offshore windfarms that are under construction today.

ABB’s WindSTAR power transformers are designed to fit inside the wind turbine and can withstand strong vibrations, sudden movements and variable electrical loading, typical of wind power. This lightweight transformer is energy efficient and made with biodegradable and safe ester insulation fluid.

“ABB transformers are a critical factor in offshore wind electricity generation, helping to ensure an economically feasible and sustainable future for the industry,” said Laurent Favre, managing director of ABB’s Transformers business line, part of the company’s Power Grids business. “Our innovative WindSTAR transformers are specially designed to meet specific application needs under the mechanical and structural constraints of offshore wind farms.”

In the last year, ABB has won two more orders for similar WindSTAR transformers for important offshore wind projects by MHI Vestas Offshore Wind: Borssele 3 & 4 windfarms, off the coast of the Netherlands, and Windfloat Atlantic in Portugal. The latter is a floating, offshore wind project, comprising the world’s largest and most powerful wind turbines ever installed on a floating foundation.

For more information, visit www.abb.com

ON Semiconductor Completes Acquisition of Quantenna Communications
Posted: 2019-6-19
Acquisition strengthens ON Semiconductor’s capabilities in advanced connectivity applications for Industrial, Automotive, and Carrier markets

ON Semiconductor Corporation announced today that the company has successfully completed its previously announced acquisition of Quantenna Communications, Inc.for $24.50 per share in an all cash transaction.

“The combination of Quantenna’s industry leading Wi-Fi technologies and ON Semiconductor’s leadership in power and analog semiconductors, coupled with the combined company’s broad sales and distribution reach, creates a formidable platform to address connectivity applications in industrial, automotive, and carrier markets,” said Keith Jackson, president and chief executive officer of ON Semiconductor. “I am pleased to welcome the employees of Quantenna to ON Semiconductor, and I look forward to the opportunities this acquisition will create for our customers, shareholders, and employees.”

Quantenna will be integrated into ON Semiconductor’s Analog Solutions Group, headed by Vince Hopkin.

For more information, visit www.onsemi.com.

RoHS 3 - The new Directive is effective July 2019!
Posted: 2019-6-9


As specified in the European Directive 2015/863 beginning the 22nd of July 2019, electronic equipment manufacturers will have to comply with the third revision of the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), referenced as RoHS 3. All categories of electrical and electronic equipment are affected except medical devices and monitoring and control instruments, which have until 22 July 2021 to comply to take into account their longer innovation cycles. The "Revision 3" adds four additional restricted substances, listed under phthalate, to the original list of six (see table 1).

Table 2 – The four banned phthalates are widely used across the whole industry

In 2010 some phthalates were on the REACH candidate list or listed in REACH Annex XIV as subject to the authorization process. They were also included in the European Commission's proposal for the recast of the EU Directive on the restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS) in electrical and electronic equipment as priority substances to be assessed for potential restriction. Eight years later, this is now happening.

Since the original listing in REACH, and in the candidate list of Substances of Very High Concern for authorization (SVHC), the risk and toxicity of the four substances, listed below, have been researched by international laboratories.

  • Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)
  • Benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP)
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
  • Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP)


The results of more than 10 years of testing and investigation exhibit a very high hypothesis that the effects of exposure to phthalates may affect human reproduction, development and risk of cancer. These results have motivated the European Commission to move the four phthalates from "Observation" to "Restriction and Interdiction".

Phthalates are a group of chemical substances used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl. They are commonly used in all industries from food packaging to cables, in insulation tapes and in some resins, in short they are almost everywhere (see table 2).

This is yet another new challenge for the electronics industry which after reducing the amount of lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls and polybrominated diphenyl ethers, is now further tasked with reducing the amount of the four listed Phthalates to below 1000 ppm in homogeneous material by weight.

Table 1 – From RoHS 1 to RoHS 3

On the way to compliance

As was the case for the previous six restricted substance in RoHS 1st edition and RoHS 2nd edition, due to the high usage of phthalates in electronics equipment - including in power supplies,  designers must work in close cooperation with their suppliers to substitute such materials with "phthalate free" elements and components.

Since some industries (e.g. medical) are more sensitive to the risk of phthalates affecting people (patients), as long ago as 2010 they were informing and educating their suppliers about the forthcoming regulations, anticipating the demand for parts with less than 1000 ppm of the identified substances listed in REACH and SVHC.

Today, a number of companies are offering RoHS 3 compliant substitutes but there is a huge lag in the supply chain which will require some pretty intense work to ensure that all products delivered after 22nd July are compliant. For newly made products, this might not be a major problem, but it could be for products held in stock all over the world.

Are my products complying and what about legacy?

Since the European Directive 2015/863 was released the 31st March 2015, designers have worked with their suppliers to guarantee that all new products pre-comply with the forthcoming regulation, but in some case it has been difficult to replace certain parts (e.g. insulation tape for high voltage transformers), thus delaying the compliance of some products. In three years' time suppliers will have implemented different processes and substances to replace banned phthalates, but there are few questions remaining on special components or parts.

However, if the level of banned phthalates in new products is reduced to below 1000 ppm, the doubt remains for items laying in stock. To be on the safe side, a number of companies have made the decision to run samples through an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer, and if this is not deemed enough to use Fourier Transform Infra-red Spectroscopy (FTIR) testing methods and sometimes Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEM).

The cost for such analysis could be substantial however, in the context of present day market conditions and the effects of component shortages, scraping products without knowing if the level of the four phthalates is below or over the 1000 ppm threshold might cost even more money.

Repair and maintenance, what should I do?

As specified in the Directive, the restriction of DEHP, BBP, DBP and DIBP shall not apply to cables or spare parts for the repair, the reuse, the updating of functionalities or upgrading of capacity of electrical and electronics equipment placed on the market before 22 July 2019, and of medical devices, including in vitro medical devices, and monitoring and control instruments, including industrial monitoring and control instruments, placed on the market before 22 July 2021.

RoHS-1, RoHS-2, RoHS-3, what's next?

RoHS Compliant – Source PRBX/Shutterstock/Olivier Le Moal

"REACH aims to improve the protection of human health and the environment through the better and earlier identification of the intrinsic properties of chemical substances." That means that research on toxicology and its impact on health and the environment will continue in order to identify risks.

As well, the European Chemical Agency has worked on a "Roadmap for SVHC identification and implementation of REACH Risk Management measures from now to 2020" which gives an EU-wide commitment to ensure that all relevant, currently known substances of very high concern (SVHC) are included in the candidate list by 2020. The objective of the SVHC Roadmap is to screen to identify new substances of concern, and to analyze the risk management options (RMO) appropriate to the particular substance of concern.

In today's business environment, electronics engineers must permanently monitor the evolution of REACH and SVCH. With the growing concerns about health and the environment we can expect more substances to be added to the RoHS list, which in some cases may prove to be extremely challenging.

As in many other situations, knowing your industry, being innovative and investing in new technologies is probably the only way to go.


Powerbox (PRBX)

Directive 2015/863

SVHC Roadmap to 2020 implementation

Candidate List of substances of very high concern for authorization


Remembering Charles "Chuck" Edwin Mullet
Posted: 2019-6-9


Chuck Mullett, Apr 25, 1938 – Mar 18, 2019

On 18 March 2019, Charles "Chuck" Edwin Mullett, of Santa Paula, California, passed away peacefully at age 80.  He was born in Buffalo, New York, to the late Sarah (Hill) Mullett and the late Charles Beatty Mullett.

Mullet grew up in Bremerton, Washington where his father was a naval officer. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1960, and a Master of Science in 1962. In college, he was the president of his fraternity Alpha Chi Rho and was in several music bands. Soon after graduating he moved to Southern California where he had a long and rewarding career designing power electronics.

For more than 20 years, Chuck owned and operated Mullett Associates, Inc., a design consulting firm, and eventually worked at ON Semiconductor from where he retired in 2013. He was granted nine patents, and was a speaker of note in several professional organizations He also founded the Los Angeles Chapter of the IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS) and served as the APEC Chair in 1996. His magamp post regulation design was leading the industry in mid-1990's.

Mullet was an active member of Santa Paula Rotary, and enjoyed sailing and amateur radio, and was known for his optimism, drive, enjoyment of people, and a zest for life. He enjoyed playing clarinet and saxophone, playing locally in six bands.

Chuck was a strong contributor and supporter of PSMA for more than 20 years serving for 6 years on the PSMA Board of Directors including President and Chairman. He was Co-Chair for the 2003 and 2006 Power Technology Roadmap Report and the author of the popular PSMA Handbook of Standardized Terminology For the Power Sources Industry. Chuck was a supporter of the NanoTechnology initiative at PSMA and a mentor for many in the industry. Chuck was a member of the PSMA Advisory Council until his passing. Remembrances from some PSMA members and supporters are included below.

Chuck was the beloved husband, for 50 years, of Vivian and we offer our condolences to her and his family. May He Rest in Peace.

I met Chuck in mid-eighties (1985?) at some show before PSMA. Both of us had our own consulting businesses: Micro-Tech Consultants, a market research consulting business and Chuck with Mullett Associates, a power electronics design consulting business. Our businesses were complementary, so we decided to 'collaborate' in bringing clients to each other with a 10% finders' fee. We did bring any client to each other, but due to our mutual interest in the power electronics business and the PSMA we remained good friends forever. We worked on some projects together and participated in many meeting. Chuck was my original friend in the power electronics and I will miss him dearly. (Mohan Mankikar, Micro-Tech Consultants, PSMA Advisory Council)
Chuck touched me in many professional and personal ways. We worked together a PSMA projects and he and his darling wife, Viviane, were wonderful hosts on the occasions when I would stay at their home in Santa Paula. A sweet, gentle man. I was blessed to call him friend. (Greg Evans, WelComm, PSMA Marketing Committee Co-Chair)

Chuck Mullett, Tony Laviano and Ernie Parker at APEC 2013 Nanotechnology Committee Meeting
I met Chuck through PSMA when he worked at ON Semiconductor and I worked at International Rectifier. We were competitors for the same business, yet I immediately found a kindred spirit who believed there was enough business for everyone and that we all benefitted from a stronger Power Supply Industry. We became good friends who enjoyed working together on projects for the good of the industry. I learned a great deal from Chuck during his collaboration on the Roadmap and his fantastic ability to proof the late versions of the total Roadmap in order to correct the punctuation and use of acronyms as well as the spacing of numbers and units of measure. His insight into how power semiconductors worked within power supplies lead the industry. (Carl Blake, CBK, PSMA Advisory Council)
Two words that summed up Chuck's approach to everything he did – passion and dedication. In all the years I had the privilege of knowing Chuck, I've never seen him without those qualities – even for a minute. I used to interact with Chuck at many PSMA sponsored activities (probably going back to mid-90's). He was one of the reasons I decided to move to ON Semi in early 2000's. After that, we interacted very frequently and it was a privilege being able to talk to him almost every day and learn from him. We have traveled all over the world together and the stories from those travels could fill pages. I remember he came to India once and he wanted to visit the local Rotary club meeting – he went and gave them a nice talk, but whatever he ate/drank there made him sick. Despite the sickness, he was game enough to carry through with other planned activities rest of his trip. At work, his passion was most evident in adhering to the IEEE writing guidelines. Outside work, he loved his music and sailing and his family. I was lucky enough to see him last October when he drove down in his Tesla to Anaheim during APEC planning meeting. At that time, Chuck mentioned that Vivian thinks that he flunked retirement! Well, he may have flunked retirement, but he definitely aced life. (Dhaval Dalal, ON Semiconductor, PSMA Board of Directors)
I first met Chuck years before his company became a member of PSMA. He offered his services and advice on a number of projects and, after he changed employers, convinced his new company to become a member. He was always ready to dig in and contribute to and lead many projects including the Roadmap, updating the Handbook of Standard Terminology, organizing the Nanotechnology Initiative, supporting APEC and making the Association stronger. I remember Chuck as an outstanding individual of high character, very smart, very high energy and over the years as a cherished friend. It was always a treat to hear about his sailing exploits and music gigs. May He Rest in Peace. (Joe Horzepa, Executive Director, PSMA)

Chuck Mullett and Joe Horzepa at APEC 2013
Chuck Mullett and I were Co-Chairs of the Nanotechnology Forum. Chuck was a true champion of nanotechnology for power supplies but not at first. Chuck was skeptical, unconvinced, and kept challenging me to show him how nanotechnology could be used for power supplies. But he figured it out. Then he asked me to be his Co-Chair of the PSMA Nanotechnology Forum to introduce nanotechnology applications to the PSMA Membership and APEC. We became a three-legged team so I would not drag my feet. Chuck saw both his visions come true. PSMA developed Nanotechnology tutorials for its members. Then in 2010 he introduced nanotechnology to APEC. I was the PSMA Nanotechnology Plenary Speaker and Chuck lead APEC's first Industry Nanotechnology Session which continued for six years under his leadership. Chuck Mullett was a visionary who was committed to the professionalism of PSMA. His nanotechnology legacy is not lost. It is in the PSMA Education Forum under Resources. Chuck figured it out! (Tony Laviano, NRAIT, PSMA Nanotechnology Committee Co-Chair Emeritus)

Chuck Mullett and Dr. Anthony F. Laviano Kicking off the Nanotechnology Forum at the 2012 PSMA Annual Meeting
I met Chuck when I took on the global applications engineering team and systems engineers at ON semi. Chuck worked for me and taught me a great deal. This was right about the time everyone was asking 'what does a systems engineer do? what does a FAE do? - you know finance and operations took over all aspects of everything during that time. Once they saw Chuck in action nobody asked what the ROI was or what does a Chuck do... ever again. Chuck made thing look easy because they probably were to him, he solved complex problems for customers, designed circuits and defined new products. He accepted nothing less than excellence in all that he did and wanted to make things better and improve the process all the time. Chuck was responsible for getting me into PSMA and involved with APEC and he also was one of the IEEE members who recommended me for IEEE Senior Member. Chuck had a great way of cutting through complexity and getting to the core issue of a problem and then setting about to solve it. He was a great mentor and friend to everyone around him. He helped me too many times to count and as an employee he always did more than expected of him. The laughs and fun on trips to China and Taiwan I will never forget the times and the stories. Chuck made a significant positive difference in the industry, in the lives of people everywhere and I benefited personally having known him. He was a great friend who I miss greatly he is probably proofreading technical documents and playing the sax in heaven and having a great time. (Kevin Parmenter, Taiwan Semiconductor, PSMA Board of Directors)


Knowing the Link Between Product Regulations and Product Standards Can Put You Ahead of the Competition
Posted: 2019-6-6


Maintaining the Power Sources Manufacturers Association (PSMA) Energy Efficiency Data Base (EEDB) and the Safety and Compliance Data Base (SCDB) has given me the unique opportunity to track and understand the relationship between the product regulations in the EEDB and product standards in the SCDB.

A regulation is a rule or directive created and maintained by an authority such as a country, federation of countries, states, or provinces. Enforcement is by law. Content is available to the public for free.

A standard is a document created by consensus and approved by a recognized body or organization for common or repeated use. Standards may be international or regional. Most standards are available to the public for a fee levied by the organization. Enforcement occurs when a label is attached to the product indicating compliance.

Regulations precede and influence the certain performance and test standards. This article explains how company standards staff and design engineers can monitor and influence a regulation far in advance of any standard(s) creation thus better positioning their company products for success under the new regulation.

Beginning with a historic example, I chose the European Union (EU) and the relationship between the Ecodesign efficiency regulation and the relevant IEC standard(s), I find that they have the clearest and most easily understood creation process. Once the regulation/standard association is covered, then we will see how it applies to the next regulation upgrade now commencing. Everything explained here applies to creative processes in the U.S. and other countries using the organizations and processes of those countries. The U.S. processes will be covered in a future article.

Why Regulation Tracking Is Important
The EU target power consumption reduction translates into the required performance of a multitude of energy-related products (ErPs). EU Parliament in their DIRECTIVE 2009/125/EC established the framework for Ecodesign creating a framework for more than 35 lots with each lot having one or two appliances. Ecodesign legislation listing all of the energy-related products is shown in reference 1[1]. In 2009, Ecodesign Lot 7 (CELEX:32009L0125)[2] contained both EPS and small battery chargers. We will focus on the EPS.

EU Regulation Development
The regulation creation process is very slow. Comprised of five steps and conducted over several years, it allows a supplier adequate time to prepare products for compliance with the new regulation.

Action 1: The EU Commission assigns a team of analysts, both commission staff and consultants, to determine the energy consumption level reduction needed.

Action 2: The EU targets are then translated into product performance (in this case, efficiency) by Ecodesign teams. European Parliament Directive 2005/32/EC established the five process Ecodesign steps shown in Fig. 1. Using these steps, the Ecodesign team develops the efficiency performance requirements for an ErP adequately contributing to the overall EU power consumption level target. 

Fig. 1. Ecodesign process steps.

The Ecodesign Lot 7 team determined EPS power consumption could best be reduced by focusing on a) the no-load electric energy consumption and b) the average active-mode efficiency. Executing the five steps in Fig. 1, they arrived at the approved minimum efficiency levels that were passed into law as a part of EU COMMISSION REGULATION (EC) No 278/2009 on April 6, 2009.[3]

Table 1 from that regulation established the acceptable performance limits in terms of no-load power consumption and average active efficiency. (Note: Table 1 refers to low-voltage external power supplies. Low voltage is defined in Article 8, paragrah 2 as less than 6-V output voltage, and more than 550-mA output current.)

Table 1. 2011 external power supply minimum performance limits.

The document that identifies the associated standard from which the test procedure is derived is EU Document 52015XC0415 (01)[4] with an extensive title referred to in the reference. (Note that publication titles and references of harmonized standards are applicable under EU harmonization legislation.) Table 2 from that document identifies the associated Standard EN50563-2011 with first publication in 2013. (Note that maximum no-load power consumption was first established by U.S. Executive Order 13221 July 31, 2001.)

Table 2. From EU Commission communication: Coupling is identified between the standard EN 50563 test procedure and the EPS efficiency regulation. (Implementation – 2015/C 120/02).[5]

Associated IEC Standard
The standard associated with the regulation may be any type including a performance standard, or a test standard. In this example, IEC 50563 is a test standard.[6] This standard creation is not historically accurate but is estimated to have started by a European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) team in 2008.

Ecos Consulting initially developed the equations in Table 2 during California Energy Commission (CEC) and Energy Star work in 2003 and subsequently modified them in 2006 and 2007 during further CEC efficiency regulation test procedure work. The equations were later adopted by Ecodesign during their harmonization efforts in the 2008/2009 time frame.

Development Timeline
The advantage of monitoring the regulation prior to start of commencing the standard creation becomes clear when the time-line of these two documents is illustrated in Fig. 2. Following the timeline figure, the regulation establishing the process was started in 2005. Subsequently, the standard EN 50563 development commenced a year or so before the conclusion of the Ecodesign Lot 7 regulation work in 2009. So, the regulation development work occurred very early compared to the standard work.

By participating in or at least monitoring the regulation performance development, a one-year advantage was available to the manufacturer to prepare their product for compliance and competitive positioning. Issued in 2011 and becoming effective in 2015, the standard EN 50563 set the final EPS testing procedure for an efficiency performance product in compliance with the Ecodesign Lot 7 regulation.

Fig. 2. Timeline for regulation example and the associated standard.

Better Prepared
A supplier company, heeding the advice of their standards engineer, would normally take advantage of the multi-year standard creation work by participating in or monitoring the action of the standards committee. However, the timeline illustrates that there is even greater advantage to be realized by being involved in or cognizant of the regulation creation process.

Next Phases
What about present efficiency regulations and standards? Many suppliers incorrectly believe that the 2005-to-2015 sally of energy efficiency regulations and standards is over, requiring no further compliance effort. But that is not the case. Regulation creation is an ongoing process as shown for this efficiency regulation case with government and non-government agencies seeking to continue reductions in power consumption.

However, by directive the EU continues to raise the efficiency bar. They are using projected power consumption for the year 2016 to determine future required energy consumption reductions for the next decades. The EU has negotiated the targets of 20% reduction by 2020, and 32.7% by 2030[7] with all countries and their experts. (Note that other countries are doing the same. Countries' targets may vary so check those countries for which you have concerns about product acceptance. Even states and provinces sometime set their own aggressive goals.) [8,9]

Their seriousness is reflected by the following statement: "The revised Energy Efficiency Directive (EU) 2018/2002 (Energy Efficiency Directive (EU) 2018/2002 )[8] sets a 2030 target of 32.5%, also with a possible upward revision in 2023. The new Governance Regulation (EU) 2018/1999 includes the requirement for Member States to draw up integrated National Energy and Climate Plans for 2021 to 2030 outlining how to achieve the targets and submit the draft to the European Commission by the end of 2018".[10]
Fig. 3 illustrates Phases 2 and 3 creating the Ecodesign EPS regulation for 2020 and 2030 respectively. Since EN 50563 is a test standard not a performance standard, very little if any update will be required as this standard is used in Phases 2 and 3. In this instance, all attention should be on the developing regulation.

If the associated standard had covered EPS performance, that standard would need updating in the later phases following the requirements dictated by the subsequent regulations. Phase 1 depicts the original regulation work effective 2015. The present 2020 update is in Phase 2. The future 2030 work is covered in Phase 3. In each case, the first step is creating the regulation target followed by the determination of the Ecodesign appliance-specific performance.

Fig. 3. Timeline for regulation example and associated standard through 2030.

In this article, we have shown that there sometimes is a link between a regulation and a standard. Our example, taken from the EU history for the EPS product regulation, clearly identifies that there is regulation development occurring several years before the associated standard development. Knowledge of this link is priceless when working to achieve product compliance and maintain a competitive advantage.

A final note: sometimes even earlier work will provide insight into regulation content. The equations in Fig. 1 were first derived in 2003 by Ecos Consulting for the California Energy Commission. These equations were subsequently improved through the efforts of CEC, Energy Star, and the EU. Those involved in this early work gained almost a decade of advantage on their competitors. 


  1. Eco-design legislation listing all of energy related products.
  2. CELEX:32009L0125
  3. https://www.eceee.org/static/media/uploads/site-2/ecodesign/products/Battery%20charges%20and%20external%20power%20supplies%20Lot%207/finalreg-eps.pdf
  4. EU Document 52015XC0415 (01)
  5. Official Journal of the European Union C120, (implementation – 2015/C 120/02)
  6. https://www.eceee.org/static/media/uploads/site-2/ecodesign/products/Battery%20charges%20and%20external%20power%20supplies%20Lot%207/explanatory-note-up-date-review-external-power-supplies-16042015.pdf (Review of Regulation (EC) No 278/2009.
  7. https://ec.europa.eu/energy/en/topics/energy-efficiency
  8. Energy Efficiency Directive (EU) 2018/2002 amending Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency.
  9. An older Lot status https://www.eup-network.de/product-groups/overview-ecodesign/
  10. REGULATION (EU) 2018/1999 OF THE EU PARLIAMENT & COUNCIL of 11 December 2018Governance Regulation (EU) 2018/1999,).


Arnold Alderman, Anagenesis, 
Maintenance Leader PSMA,
SCDB and EEDB Data Bases


Editor's Note: This article was first published in the March 2019 issue of How2Power Today (http://www.how2power.com/newsletters/index.php).


Lincoln International's EMS Quarterly Report: Q1 2019
Posted: 2019-6-6


Lincoln International is pleased to present the latest issue of its EMS Quarterly Report: Q1 2019


There were 10 EMS transactions recorded in Q1 2019, representing an increase from the 6 recorded in Q1 2018 and the same number as the transactions in Q4 2018. This issue of the EMS Quarterly Report provides perspectives on:

  • Review of Q1 2019
  • Quarterly deal volume comparison by total transactions, geography and deal type
  • Q1 2019 cash cycle
  • Financial performance in the EMS industry
(421k pdf)

This data is included with the permission of Lincoln International. For more information, visit https://www.lincolninternational.com/whoweserve/technology/


PSMA Safety & Compliance Technical Committee Leadership Opportunity
Posted: 2019-6-2

The PSMA Board of Directors is seeking one or more volunteers interested in providing leadership for the Safety & Compliance Technical Committee. The membership in all the PSMA Technical Committees is comprised of individual volunteers from both Member and non-Member Companies who have a technical, business or personal interest and are involved in the focus of the specific Technical Committee.

An important role of the Technical Committee leadership is to coordinate the mission and focus of the committee to address the current issues and changing trends in the technologies. Each of the Technical Committees normally meet monthly via teleconference for one hour to discuss special Projects that PSMA might fund that would benefit the membership and industry, to consider and plan Industry Sessions for upcoming APEC meetings, and to support the PSMA Power Technology Roadmap with relevant Webinars and technical content. The leadership position is the chair (or co-chair) for each meeting and is responsible for generating the monthly meeting agenda and to facilitate the meeting to meet the interests of the participants.

The benefits of Technical Committee leadership are many, including:

  • Being acknowledged as an important participant and factor in the technical community
  • Opportunity to interact with National, State and Independent Agencies involved with the specific technologies
  • Anticipate and influence changes especially in regulations and technologies
  • Identify your company as an important participant and contributor in the industry segment
  • An expanded ability to network with others in the industry

Additional information on this opportunity is available here.

Please contact the Association Office (power@psma.com, 973-543-9660) for more information on the specific responsibilities for the Chair and/or Co-chair of the Safety and Compliance Technical Committee.

ON Semiconductor Joins United Nations Global Compact
Posted: 2019-5-29
Initiative focuses on ten principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption to advance corporate sustainability

ON Semiconductor, driving energy efficient innovations, announced today they have joined the United Nations (UN) Global Compact, the world's largest corporate responsibility initiative with over 9,000 business and non-business participants in 135 countries.

Launched in 2000, the UN Global Compact guides and supports the global business community in advancing UN goals and values through responsible corporate practices. The framework focuses on ten principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption. Under the UN Global Compact, companies work together with UN agencies, labor groups and society to lead a new era of sustainability. By bringing committed companies together with relevant experts and stakeholders, the UN Global Compact provides a collaborative space to generate and implement advanced corporate sustainability practice.

"We are very pleased to join a community of companies and stakeholders who are equally committed to corporate stewardship," said Keenan Evans, senior vice president, quality, environment, health and safety, corporate social responsibility. "We look forward to continuing to embed these principles across the business and leveraging our industry-leading position to achieve sustainable excellence."

Additionally, ON Semiconductor also has introduced its standalone ON Semiconductor Human Rights Policy. The policy formalized the company's commitment to preserving and promoting the fundamental rights of others and applies to all ON Semiconductor employees, joint ventures, major suppliers, select service providers and contractors, and products and services.

"Although our commitment to human rights is a part of our membership to the Responsible Business Alliance, our participation in the UN Global Compact and standalone human rights policy underscore this commitment to our employees and stakeholders," said Theresa Haywood-McCarley, senior director, global quality systems and corporate social responsibility. "Our goal is to be a good corporate citizen in the communities where we do business. It also notifies our customers and sets expectations for our suppliers that we are serious about this commitment."

ABB enables first remote-controlled submersible fish farm in the Arctic Ocean
Posted: 2019-5-28

A new salmon farming concept is expected to boost Norway’s salmon production in the face of increased demand, while ensuring high standards of safety and quality.

Digital technology leader ABB has won a contract from Arctic Offshore Farming to power its first-ever remote controlled submersible offshore salmon farm in the Arctic Ocean. ABB will provide a comprehensive package of its leading electrical, automation, instrumentation and telecom technologies that ensure maximum efficiency and minimal environmental impact.

With the global market volume of salmon expected to hit 4.5 million tons by 2023, according to a 2018 report by Research and Markets, the Arctic Offshore Farming project is looking for ways to farm fish in a more sustainable manner. The submerged fish pens are less prone to sea lice which have been linked to a decline in salmon production in Norway – one of the top salmon exporters in the world. The offshore farm located in the Norwegian Sea - part of the Arctic Ocean - outside Troms will have a lower environmental footprint.

The region is more vulnerable to fierce weather and wave conditions than traditional farms that are located inside the region’s fjords. To counter this, ABB is supplying a pontoon ballast water system that will ensure that the fish pens are kept stable in the harsh Norwegian Sea. ABB will also design control and monitoring systems complete with sensors and automation technology that enable the pens to be operated remotely. The entire solution will be in place by the end of the third quarter of 2020.

The farm will also be connected to ABB Ability™, the company’s cross-digital software offering that collects environmental data, including meteorological conditions, ocean currents, oxygen levels and sea temperature. It also monitors the pH at different depths and the amount of biomass in the cages.

“This unique concept is the perfect platform for ABB to share its vision of building a sustainable and efficient aquaculture industry,” said Kevin Kosiko, Managing Director ABB Energy Industries. “The unmanned fish pens will be remotely controlled by a feed barge located 400 meters away. This reduces the need for human intervention and thereby cuts fuel and electricity consumption and will also enable new solutions for fish farming offshore and onshore with a focus on fish welfare, traceability and food safety.”

ON Semiconductor Reaches Key Milestones in Roznov Facility Expansion
Posted: 2019-3-27
New operations site focuses on advancing innovations for industrial, consumer, computing and automotive market segments

ON Semiconductor, driving energy efficient innovations, today announces a very important step in the evolution of the company. ON Semiconductor has completed the first of at least two expansions of our facility in Ro~nov pod Radhoatem, Czech Republic. Over the past two years, the company has invested roughly 130 million dollars in site expansion projects to expand capacity, enhance its research and development footprint and better address environment protection objectives. As the expansion still continues the company will invest further 70 million USD by the end of this year. Roznov pod Radhostem currently employs over 2,000 individuals, many of them technically qualified staff with more than 700 employees hired in 2017-2018 alone. The expertise of the technical talent in Roznov pod Radhostem spans almost 70 years.

"In order to continue the advanced pace and sophistication synonymous with technology, it was a priority to invest in the ON Semiconductor Roznov facility," said Keith Jackson, president and CEO at ON Semiconductor. "Sustained and well-targeted investment helps to support not just product demand, but also the development of employees who are key to, and the driving force behind the company's success.

The site has state-of-the-art six and eight-inch fabs and silicon wafer manufacturing capabilities and produces devices to serve advanced power related applications in end markets such as computing, consumer, industrial, automotive and portable devices. These expansion projects at the site were important in satisfying the growing demand for the company's devices from established as well as newer markets such as renewable energy.

"ON Semiconductor has been established in Roznov since the existence of the company and is proud to have brought improvement and prosperity to such an historical industrial area," said Ales Cab, Roznov operations manager at ON Semiconductor. ""By strategically investing in all areas of the site we were able to increase manufacturing capacity into the existing building thus preserving the surrounding landscape."

ON Semiconductor has a long and storied history in Roznov pod Radhostem, Czech Republic. It is the largest employer in the region and also includes a location in Brno, Czech Republic. ON Semiconductor in the Czech Republic was established in 2003 by merger of TESLA SEZAM (production of semiconductor chips) and TEROSIL (production of silicon). The two companies were the successor organizations of the former state-owned company TESLA, whose current semiconductor manufacturing tradition continues. The design center was established in 1994 and operates on the same campus with the manufacturing operations.

For more information, visit www.onsemi.com.

The Silent Power of Supercapacitors (Part 2*)
Posted: 2019-2-28

*This is the second in a 2-part series, read Part 1 here

From harvesting energy to power plants, the use of power electronics is everywhere and there isn't an application that doesn't require power. The power electronics industry is very dynamic and many new technologies have made the impossible, now possible. In the unceasing quest to increase performance levels, reliability and sustainability, new components and technologies such as Wide Bandgap Semiconductors and Digital power management are getting a lot of attention and coverage. However, hiding in the shadows there is a component that is very important and intrinsically involved in many vital applications; The Supercapacitor.

In the part 1 of this article we reviewed the origins of the supercapacitors, how they work and the amazing potential, someday, to supersede batteries, but will that happen?

Will supercapacitors supersede batteries?

Following Elon Musk's speech at Cleantech Forum 2011, there has been a lot of interest in supercapacitors. The potential offered by nanotechnologies is keeping hopes high that at some point in the future supercapacitors might reach a point where they equal the performance of batteries. As can be seen in Figure 01, energy vs power density for different types of energy-storage devices, at the present time the performance levels of fuel-cells, batteries, ultracapacitors and conventional capacitors do not overlap. However, they are complimentary, and recent technological advancements are reducing the gap between batteries and supercapacitors.

Each of those technologies has their advantages and disadvantages  that power designers take into consideration when developing power systems. In Figure 02 we compare the key parameters of Li-ion batteries and supercapacitors, and it is obvious that one of the key benefits of the supercapacitor is its extremely high cyclability. It can be charged and discharged virtually an unlimited number of times, which is unlikely ever to be the case for the electrochemical battery which has a defined, much shorter life cycle.

Ageing is also in favor of supercapacitors. Under normal conditions, from an original 100% capacity they only lose 20% in 10 years, which far exceeds the levels achieved by any battery. For systems designers working to power systems in harsh environments, supercapacitors will operate in very low to high temperatures without degradation, which we know is not the case for batteries. On the downside supercapacitors discharge from 100 to 50 percent in 30 to 40 days, whereas lead and lithium-based batteries self-discharge about 5 percent during the same period; but technology is improving daily and supercapacitors are becoming better and better.

Figure 2.

With the growing demand for renewable energy and issues relating to energy storage, there is a rising question about the reasoning behind building huge banks of Lithium Ion batteries. We all know that these batteries have a limited lifetime, and there's the associated environmental risks since as well as consuming precious raw materials they're not easy to recycle. This is where research is very interesting and the disclosure presented by the Universities of Surrey and Bristol in February 2018 on the development of polymer materials is appealing. They achieved practical capacitance values of up to 4F/cm2 when the industry standard is 0.3F/cm2, and they are expecting to reach 11-20F/cm2 in the near future. When such levels of capacity are achieved we will be able to talk about 180Wh/kg, which is similar to lithium ion batteries.

The level of research in supercapacitors is really impressive and the gap is closing. How fast that will happen remains unknown, but considering the number of patents filed, papers presented and levels industry interest, it shouldn't take too long.

In silence they do the job

Supercapacitors are almost everywhere, from the Shanghai bus experiment to run a fleet of buses powered only by supercapacitors to smart meters and harvesting energy, it is almost impossible to draw up an exhaustive list of applications. For sure it is their ability to sustain high charge and discharge cycles that makes them ideal for private and public electrical vehicles and machinery such as port-cranes to accumulate and re-use energy. But in many applications, when designers need peak power, they are there.

If you are an audiophile, your audio amplifier might contain a supercapacitor bank able to deliver kilowatts of peak power to your bass loudspeaker when Ferruccio Furlanetto bellows out the deep notes in Don Quichotte. If you have a smart meter at home, it most probably contains a supercapacitor able to deliver peak power when transmitting stored data via the GPRS module. And again, if you are a technology geek following the Lamborghini 'Terzo Millennio' project, you will have noticed how important a role supercapacitors play in the motorization of this very special, electric powered sport car.

Figure 3.

Safety is another benefit of supercapacitors and that is the reason why they are the first choice when backup or peak power is required in a restricted environment. Critical applications operating in hostile or confined environments are strictly regulated in terms of chemical and other hazardous risks, reducing or forbidding certain type of batteries such as Lithium Ion. For safety reasons, those applications must have a power backup long enough to run alarms and safety shutdown processes. In such arduous conditions, conventional batteries are replaced by supercapacitor banks whose values could be from a few Farads to 200 Farads for general applications (Figure 03).

What's coming next?

As we have seen, supercapacitor technology is moving extremely fast. The challenges posed by the energy storage issue is the most likely area where we will see the more immediate benefits of nanotechnologies being implemented in supercapacitors.

One example to close this article is the very interesting research conducted by the University of Central Florida on combining distribution cable with the capacity of supercapacitors. Assistant professor Jayan Thomas of the NanoScience Technology Center has found a way to improve a regular copper wire to transform it into a supercapacitor cable. Based on nanowhisker technology it could transform the standard copper wire into a supercapacitor capable of storing and delivering large amounts of power.

So in some degree of silence supercapacitors are becoming the most promising component for the future. Many power designers are already implementing power solutions based on supercapacitors but considering how fast research takes place and the huge challenges that humanity faces due to climate change, one day in the not too distant future, supercapacitors will be the heart of modern power solutions.


  1. Powerbox (PRBX) https://www.prbx.com/
  2. Howard I. Becker "Low voltage electrolytic capacitor" US Patent US2800616A https://patents.google.com/patent/US2800616A/en
  3. Robert A. Rightmire "Electrical energy storage apparatus" US Patent US3288641A https://patents.google.com/patent/US3288641A/en?oq=US3288641A
  4. University of Bristol https://www.bristol.ac.uk/
  5. University of Central Florida https://www.ucf.edu/
  6. Elon Musk speech at Cleantech 2011 in San Francisco https://youtu.be/hTBZGWEzR_E

Provided by Patrick Le Févre 
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Powerbox




Powerbox Announces Power Supply Industry’s First Cosel Portable Product Selector App
Posted: 2019-1-21

Powerbox, one of Europe’s largest power supply companies and a leading force for four decades in optimizing power solutions for demanding applications, has announced the release of Cosel’s first portable product selector app developed to operate across all mobile devices and computers - even without internet connection. The application has been designed for speed, and coded to offer power designers and sales forces quick access to the most important parameters, helping them to choose the best Cosel power solution for their applications in just a few clicks.

Online product selectors are ubiquitous though in many instances it is useful to be able to select a power product without internet connection. Offline applications often require a lot of space and memory on end-user devices, something that concerns everyone. Working in close collaboration with electronics engineers and sales teams, the Cosel Product Selector App is based on a number of simple but vital parameters that designers select first when searching for a power unit.

The Cosel Product Selector App is straightforward in use and in just a few clicks the user is able to rapidly locate a selection of products suitable for his application. The app also includes simple calculators and all product specifications in a basic format as well as datasheets.

Working with projects or dealing with recurrent demands, after registration the Cosel Product Selector App allows users to save favorite products and solutions to their profile. The favorites folder then stores the user preferences for quick access to chosen products without adding further load to the application.

“This app has been designed to assist everyone at all levels, making it a quick, simple and easy process for selecting a power supply. The ability to use it offline as well as store favorites and send datasheets is particularly helpful when multiple solutions are available for the same specification and solutions based on specs entered ensure that the right solution is offered, thus optimizing costs.” Said Nick Theodoris, Cosel Europe Sales Director. “Cosel is extremely proud to be the first to market with such a tool, demonstrating the company’s dedication to meeting the needs of today’s electronics engineers”.

To reduce the size of the app on users’ terminals, only datasheets are built into the application. However, links to supporting documentation e.g. instruction manuals are included under ‘Features’ and are accessible when online.

When a product is selected or saved in ‘Favorites’, when online the user can also access the stock-check option, offering him an immediate view of available products to order, thus reducing time to samples to an absolute minimum.

To guarantee that users always have the latest, updated Cosel products information, when online, the Cosel Product Selector App automatically checks for the latest stored data, offering an option to refresh the application or to stay with current version. Here again, the application has been optimized for speed and refreshing stored data is done in just a few seconds using an average speed connection.

For portability and accessibility, the Cosel Product Selector App complies with the two major mobile platforms: Apple and Android and is available from their respective App Stores. A version for MacBook users is available from the Mac App Store and for PC users, the Windows 10 App is available from the Microsoft store. Note that a Windows 7 & 8 version is available from Cosel’s Europe website.

For more information visit www.prbx.com

Powerbox releases its United Nations Global Compact Communication On Progress report 2018
Posted: 2018-12-20

Powerbox, one of Europe’s largest power supply companies and a leading force for four decades in optimizing power solutions for demanding applications, has announced the release of its 2018 Communication On Progress report as a participant in the United Nations Global Compact initiative. The Communication on Progress (COP) is an annual disclosure through which Powerbox (PRBX) informs stakeholders about its efforts to implement the ten principles of the United Nations (UN) Global Compact initiative.

In this first annual Communication on Progress, Powerbox describes its actions to continually improve the integration of the United Nations Global Compact’s ten principles into its business strategy, culture and daily operations. As part of Powerbox’s Environmental, Social and Governances (ESG) strategy, it has implemented and strengthened processes, guaranteeing the highest respect for human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption.

“I am pleased to confirm that Powerbox has reaffirmed its support of the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption,” said Martin Sjöstrand, CEO at Powerbox. “Additionally, we are also committed to sharing this information with our stakeholders using our primary channels of communication.”

Human Rights – Powerbox conducts employee training and follow-ups during the employee yearly evaluation period. It has also implemented the Powerbox Supplier Handbook with a focus on suppliers’ engagement and obligations towards human rights, with follow-ups through audits.

Labor – At Powerbox, culture and clarity are very important and best practices are implemented within the group for transparency and efficiency. Employee meetings are conducted on a regular basis, and also in the case of extraordinary events in order to share company news. All employees have access to the PRBX Intranet as publishers to share news, points of interest, opinions and others. The CEO and the management team operate an open office philosophy that is available to all employees.

Environment - Powerbox is forever working hard to minimize its negative footprint while simultaneously striving to optimize the positive one. An integral part of this process is the inclusion of the United Nations Global Compact 10 principles in our way of working and in our company philosophy. One example of our commitment to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals is our ongoing support to VI-Skogen and Vi-Agroforestry, which is a Swedish development organization working towards poverty reduction and environmental improvements through tree planting.

“Since 2017, we have supported Vi Agroforestry, a development aid organization that has been working for tree planting and poverty reduction in east Africa for over 35 years. Last year, Vi Agroforestry planted over five million trees, thus combating poverty and climate change,” said Patrick Le Fèvre CMO/CCO and ESG Ambassador at Powerbox. “As part of our UNGC engagement, through our partnership with Vi-Skogen and Vi-Agroforestry, we support Sustainable Development Goals 15 (Life on Land) but also 1 (No poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), 5 (Gender equality), and 13 (Climate action).”

Anti-Corruption - Powerbox provides adequate training for all employees consistent with the company’s risk profile and appropriate to employee responsibilities. We also have in place a whistleblower system of any suspicion of corruption or bribery.

We care for our society - Powerbox’s environment, social and governance (ESG) principles are endorsed by all employees, all over the world. It encourages local engagement supporting the UN Global Compact corporate responsibility initiative and its ten principles. From the small to the large, many projects have been initiated within Powerbox in all countries that the company has a presence.

Powerbox has reaffirmed its support of the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption

For more information visit www.prbx.com

International Workshop on Integrated Power Packaging (IWIPP) 2019
Posted: 2018-12-11

The International Workshop on Integrated Power Packaging (IWIPP) is a biennial, multi-disciplinary event focused on the intersection of technology areas that support the development of high-performance packaging for power electronics.  The accelerating commercialization of wide band-gap (WBG) semiconductors has highlighted the importance of developing next-generation packaging techniques to overcome the limitations of legacy packaging solutions.  The establishment of IWIPP represents a concentrated effort to recognize and address this challenge by bringing together the capabilities of industry practitioners and researchers across the globe.

In 2015, IWIPP reemerged after several years of inactivity to address new packaging challenges introduced with the commercialization of WBG semiconductor technology.  Since that time, IWIPP has quickly become a premier international workshop in the area of power electronics packaging and integration. The workshop is sponsored by the IEEE's Power Electronics Society (PELS), Components, Electronic Packaging Society (EPS), and Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society (DEIS), as well as the Power Sources Manufacturers Association (PSMA) and the European Consortium on Power Electronics (ECPE).

IWIPP 2019 will be held April 24-26, 2019, in Toulouse, France. The contents of IWIPP 2019 will include a set of plenary addresses from leading experts in the field, a broad range of technical sessions, as well as a complement of technical tutorial sessions, all of which are included in the registration fee.  Topics that will be addressed as part of the technical program for IWIPP 2019 include magnetic and dielectric materials; power semiconductor devices and modules; integration of sensors; design of gate/base drivers, reliability and manufacturability considerations; electro-magnetic interference mitigation; and many more.

Please make plans to attend IWIPP 2019 to enhance your understanding of the latest developments in the area of high-performance power packaging and the critical role of packaging in determining the performance and reliability of power electronics applications.  Additional information regarding the workshop can be found at the following website: https://iwipp.org/

Sponsored by:
IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS)
IEEE Components, Packaging, and Manufacturing Technology Society (CPMT)
IEEE Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society (DEIS)
Power Sources Manufacturers Association (PSMA)
European Center for Power Electronics (ECPE) 

The Silent Power of Supercapacitors (Part I)
Posted: 2018-12-11

From harvesting energy to power plants, the use of power electronics is everywhere and there are few applications that do not require power. The power electronics industry has been very dynamic with many new technologies making the impossible now possible. In the unceasing quest to increase performance levels, reliability and sustainability, new components and technologies such as Wide Bandgap Semiconductors and Digital power management are receiving a lot of attention and coverage. However, hiding in the shadows is a component that is very important and alredy intrinsically involved in many evolving applications - The Supercapacitor.

Supercapacitors are being widely applied - although perhaps because they are seen as passive components with a low-tech connotation, they are seldom on centerstage. It is time to bring them back into the spotlight, so let's review the amazing story and technology behind the silent power of supercapacitors.

From Howard Becker to Elon Musk
In the early fifties when capacitors were made out of impregnated paper and mica, General Electric researched ways to increase their capacity to store and release higher energy levels and to be able to absorb voltage distortions in electronics especially in top secret military applications. Research was conducted by Howard I. Becker and his team who on 14th April 1954 filed a patent for a 'Low voltage electrolytic capacitor' using a porous carbon electrode. On 23rd July 1957 the US2800616A patent was granted, thus opening the road for further innovation. Becker's invention was the beginning of a race between laboratories to convert the invention into a component capable of being mass manufactured with higher performance levels. In 1958, Philips NV patented a process for the production of electrodes for electrolytic capacitors and the electrolytic capacitor was born.

Although the invention of the electrolytic capacitor was an important step forward for the electronics industry, the capacity was still not enough to store higher levels of energy such as is required to stabilize an electric network or to deliver extremely high energy levels as required by certain applications in the defense industry. It took another six years of research after Becker's patent for the Robert A. Rightmire an engineer at Standard Oil Company to be granted on the 29th of November 1966, the US3288641A patent for an 'Electrical energy storage apparatus'. It was described as: "An electrical energy storage device for storing energy in electrostatic condition as double layers of electron-ions and proton-ions at co-acting interfaces…"

The supercapacitor was born!

Interestingly, it then took another 10 years for the invention to become a market reality.

Because of their capacity to store and release high amounts of energy in a very short time period, Electrical Vehicle (EV) research on high performance supercapacitors intensified and the number of inventions and patents sky-rocketed. The foremost application in EVs was to store the energy generated when decelerating and braking in order to re-use that energy to power the engine when accelerating. The potential of the supercapacitor received heightened attention in March 2011 at the Cleantech Forum in San Francisco where regarding the future of electric vehicles Elon Musk said, "If I were to make a prediction, I'd think there's a good chance that it is not batteries, but super-capacitors that will power the future of EV." Just to remind ourselves, Musk originally came to California to study high-energy-density capacitor physics at Stanford. His speech started a lot of speculation about the potential of supercapacitors, with the perception that they would be the solution to mass energy storage, eventually replacing batteries. The reality is a bit different though, from the timing of Becker and Rightmire's original patents up to the present day, supercapacitor technology has progressed in a fair degree of 'behind the scenes' silence.

How does it work?
As we all remember from school, a capacitor consists of two metal plates or conductors separated by an insulator such as air or a film made of plastic or ceramic. During charging, electrons accumulate on one conductor and depart from the other. Using normal manufacturing practices a conventional capacitor's energy storage is limited by the laws of physics and that is where Robert A. Rightmire's invention opened new avenues for high energy storage.

A supercapacitor cell basically consists of two electrodes, a separator, and an electrolyte. The electrodes are made up of a metallic collector that is the high conducting part, and of an active material (metal oxides, carbon and graphite are the most commonly used) that is the high surface area part. The two electrodes are separated by a membrane that allows mobility of the charged ions, but forbids electrical conductance. The system is impregnated with an electrolyte (Figure 01). The geometrical size of the two carbon sheets and of the separators are designed in such a way that they have a very high surface area. Due to its structure, the highly porous carbon can store more energy than any other electrolytic capacitor.
When a voltage is applied to the positive plate, it attracts negative ions from the electrolyte, and when a voltage is applied to the negative plate, it attracts positive ions from the electrolyte. As a result, ion layers form on both sides of the plate in what is called a 'double layer' formation, resulting in the ions being stored near the surface of the carbon. This mechanism gives supercapacitors the ability to store and restore high energy within a very short time period.

The surface of the active part is the key to the supercapacitor's capacity and from what we know, increasing the surface area increases the capacity. What is particularly interesting and exciting in the advance of supercapacitor technology are the possibilities offered by the introduction of nanotechnologies. One example is to replace the conventional active carbon layer with a thin layer of billions of nanotubes. Each nanotube is like a uniform hollow cylinder 5nm diameter and 100um long, vertically grown over the conducting electrodes, and by using billions of them it is possible to reach extremely high density levels of capacity (Figure 02).

Will supercapacitors supersede batteries and What's coming next?
Following Elon Musk's speech at Cleantech Forum 2011, there has been a lot of interest in supercapacitors and the potential offered by nanotechnologies is keeping hopes high that at some point in the future, supercapacitors might reach a point where they equal the performance of batteries.

Will that happen?
Find more in Part 2 of this article in the next edition of the PSMA newsletter.

Provided by Patrick Le Fèvre
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Powerbox

Editor's note: This is the first in a 2-part series, watch for the second article in the First Quarter 2019 Issue of the PSMA Update.

PSMA Announces New Membership Classifications and Dues Structure
Posted: 2018-11-27

The PSMA Board of Directors has recognized the growing role being played by the rapid technological advances in power semiconductors, power management ICs, passive components to meet demanding customer needs for higher efficiency, higher reliability power conversion products and systems.

Much of the excellent work carried out through our PSMA Technical Committees is focused on these enabling technologies. Many of the outstanding APEC Industry Sessions organized by the PSMA Technical Committees address the advances in these critical components and manufacturing technologies. In addition, the PSMA Technical Committees sponsor several Technical Workshops and Webinars that address the advances on these topics, including the full-day Capacitor and Magnetics Workshops held the Saturday prior to the start of APEC, PwrSoC 2018 held in October in Taiwan, and the 3D Power Electronics Integrations and Manufacturing Workshop.

In recognition of the significant value and contributions provided by the companies engaged in the manufacture of these enabling technologies, the PSMA Board of Directors has determined that all such companies should be eligible for full voting membership in our Association. To this end, the PSMA Bylaws have been amended to simplify the membership structure into two classifications: Regular and Affiliate.  All member companies formerly classified as Associate Members will now be classified as Regular Members. 

In addition, the annual dues for Regular Membership will no longer be based on self-reported industry-related revenues. Instead, beginning in 2019, Regular Membership dues will be the same for all eligible companies and set at $950 per year. The Annual Dues structure has not changed in more than 30 years. For some member companies, this will result in a significant reduction in the annual cost of membership. For a small number of current Regular members and others formerly designated as Associate members, annual membership will increase modestly.

This change in the PSMA membership structure recognizes that PSMA Member Companies continue to be at the leading edge of power technology and “the voice of the Power Sources Industry”.

iNEMI Opens New Headquarters in North Carolina
Posted: 2018-11-16

The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI), a worldwide industry-led consortium, today announced it has relocated its headquarters office from Herndon, Virginia, to Morrisville, North Carolina. 

iNEMI started exploring options for a new headquarters location earlier this year because the Herndon office building where iNEMI had been headquartered since 1996 was put up for sale with all leases terminating at the end of 2018. After an extensive review, the search committee decided that the Greater Raleigh/Research Triangle Park area would be the most advantageous location for iNEMI.

“We took this opportunity to explore a number of locations, assessing several factors, such as proximity to members and academic research centers, access to transportation, leasing costs and more,” said Marc Benowitz, iNEMI CEO.  “In the end, the Greater Raleigh/Research Triangle Park area topped the list in terms of meeting our needs. We are now officially open in our new headquarters location and are looking forward to becoming a part of the research community in this dynamic and growing area.”

The iNEMI office is located at

3000 RDU Center Drive, Suite 220
Morrisville, NC 27560 USA
+1 984.333.0820

This office serves as the headquarters for the corporate membership-based iNEMI, which is an R&D consortium comprised of leading electronics manufacturing companies and related organizations.  The initial staff located in the North Carolina office are Edward (Ed) Jollie, Director of Business Administration and Operations, and Kristin Christensen, Office Administrator.

For additional information about iNEMI, visit www.inemi.org.

ON Semiconductor Announces Official Supplier Relationship with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport and Mercedes EQ Formula E Team to Create Cutting-Edge Power Solutions for Vehicle Electrification
Posted: 2018-11-6

ON Semiconductor, driving energy efficient innovations, announces an Official Supplier relationship with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport and Mercedes EQ Formula E team that will extend their automotive power solutions leadership onto the highly competitive world stages of Formula One and Formula E. Building on the company's technology, already utilized in the energy recovery pack that controls ignition and injection drivers of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport race car, which has won four consecutive Formula One World Constructors' championships and five consecutive Drivers' titles, ON Semiconductor will collaborate with the Mercedes EQ Formula E Team in developing next-generation electric powertrain innovations for cutting-edge performance and efficiency.

"ON Semiconductor is a market leader in innovative power management solutions for vehicle electrification. The powertrain systems within both a Formula 1 and Formula E vehicle not only possess an increased number of power semiconductors, these semiconductors must meet extremely demanding performance and efficiency requirements, while withstanding the harshest of automotive environments," said David Somo, senior vice president corporate strategy, marketing and solutions engineering at ON Semiconductor. "This partnership showcases our full range of power semiconductors and modules in supporting the continuing success of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport as part of a demanding and dynamic sport."

"Formula E cars see massive power transfers during their running, so it's not a simple electrical problem," said Dave Priscak, vice president, global solutions engineering at ON Semiconductor. "Our comprehensive expertise that spans both mechanical and electrical engineering offers full solutions to the innovation of next-generation electric vehicles. We look forward to continuing our work with Mercedes to further capitalize on this expertise in the development of technological advancements in power devices and electric vehicle technology."

Race cars need technology that can withstand high levels of shock, vibration and extreme temperatures. The more efficient the semiconductor device, the less power is lost to wasted heat, resulting in better mileage or miles per watt of energy. At the same time, engineers also aim to make their cars' components smaller to save weight and space. ON Semiconductor power products and solutions include IGBTs, high voltage gate drivers, super junction rectifiers, high voltage MOSFETs and high voltage DC-DC, as well as wide band gap (WBG) developments in Silicon Carbide (SiC) and Gallium Nitride (GaN) that can be used in next-generation electric vehicles. These technologies provide longer driving range between charges, faster battery charging times and better thermal management.

For more information, visit www.onsemi.com.


Christine Yan Joins the ON Semiconductor Board of Directors
Posted: 2018-10-1

ON Semiconductor Corporation, driving energy efficiency innovations, today announced that Christine Yan has joined its Board of Directors. Ms. Yan was elected to this position by ON Semiconductor’s Board of Directors.

"We are pleased to welcome Christine as a new independent director to ON Semiconductor’s board and look forward to her contributions,” said Alan Campbell, chair of the board at ON Semiconductor. “Her unique insights and perspectives, coupled with prior board experience, are a great complement to the skills and qualifications of our existing directors.”

“Christine joins ON Semiconductor’s board at an exciting time for the company as we continue to drive our business and customer relationships in China and the greater Asia Pacific region,” said Keith Jackson, president, chief executive officer and director at ON Semiconductor. “Her engineering background and deep knowledge in doing business in Asia, corporate strategy, and product development will be invaluable to our customers and shareholders. We look forward to working with her on the board as we continue to fulfill our vision to be the trusted supplier of choice for energy efficient innovations in the semiconductor industry.”

Ms. Yan has served as Vice President of Integration at Stanley Black & Decker (NYSE: SWK) since January 2018, leading the company’s successful acquisition of Nelson Fastener Systems. Prior to this role, Ms. Yan has recently served as President – Asia for Stanley Black & Decker based in Shanghai, China and President – Stanley Storage and Workspace Systems. Ms. Yan started her career at Black & Decker as an engineering intern in 1989 and progressed to be the first female business unit president for the company in 2006 when she became President of Global Automotive for the Engineered Fastening Business. Ms. Yan also serves as a director of Modine Manufacturing Company (NYSE: MOD).

Ms. Yan holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Shandong University in Shandong, China, a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

For more information, visit www.onsemi.com.

EnABLES Launches its Transnational Access Programme for Powering the IoT
Posted: 2018-9-6

The EU H2020 EnABLES research infrastructure programme, co-ordinated by Tyndall, has just launched its Transnational Access (TA) programme, which offers free-of-charge access to equipment, tools and expertise related to 'powering the internet of things (IoT)'. The vision of EnABLES is to eliminate the need for battery replacement by developing energy harvesting solutions or by finding ways to significantly reduce the power consumption of devices. The TA programme gives academic and industry developers and integrators of IoT devices unique access to advanced research infrastructure based on the technology pillars of energy harvesting, energy storage, micro-power management and system integration.

The TA providers include Tyndall, CEA (Leti & Liten), Fraunhofer IMS, Fraunhofer IIS and imec the Netherlands. In addition, Virtual Access to databases of vibrational energy sources from real life applications is being offered by the University of Perugia and the University of Southampton. EnABLES also funds Joint Research Activities (JRAs) between the above mentioned partners along with Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Politecnico Di Torino and University of Bologna. It is envisaged that the Joint Research Activities  will lead to future Transnational Access programme offerings.

The access activities can be undertaken in many ways; ranging from characterizing material or devices to carrying out physical or simulated feasibility studies to see if 'battery life' in IoT devices can be prolonged. The potential impact of EnABLES is vast – it is forecast that the world will have 1 trillion IoT devices by 2025 most of which will require an embedded self-contained power source.

The access process is very simple, examples of offerings can be viewed on the EnABLES website and an online enquiry form is available at www.enables-project.eu. All outputs from the EnABLES TA and VA activities will be openly available as part of the aim of EnABLES to build a collaborative ecosystem that creates miniaturized and autonomous sensors. The EnABLES program already brings together a consortium of 130 'powering IoT' researchers giving them access to over €2Bn worth of research infrastructure.

We welcome you to go onto the EnABLES website and subscribe for newsletters, updates and info on other relevant events and activities (http://www.enables-project.eu/contact/signup/).

Provided by Mike Hayes, EnABLES Coordinator

Powering Safety in Demanding Applications
Posted: 2018-8-30

Industrial power is a fascinating world, especially when designing customized solutions combining multi disciplines, and a segment full of amazing projects requiring from designers large range of competences and tight intimacy with customers and related industry. Powering safety equipment in gas, oil and hazardous substances is a very good example of an area where power designers have to combine power-knowledge, safety and regulation, software, and to have a full understanding of the application area and connected devices. Let's dive into the amazing world of Industrial Power to understand the connections between the electrons, the gas, oil and hazardous substances that make our world better and safer.

Challenges faced by gas, oil and hazardous substance industry

The production, transportation and distribution of gas, oil and hazardous substances require, at every step of their respective processes, high levels of monitoring, guaranteeing safety and environmental protection. It is critical to prevent any leakage, and if happening, to detect and report faults without delay, requiring that sensors, monitoring station, communication and other connected devices are powered with stable "always available power." That might sound obvious but considering the entire chain, from production to distribution; the quality of power delivered from grid and micro-grid is not always optimum, which could compromise safety. That's why a very specific type of power solution including local energy storage, power monitoring and communication towards the host system and site-manager is a must.

We will come back to the power solution in detail, but another challenge facing demanding industries are; the aging of installed equipment which, some are in operation for more than 20 years, powered by linear power sources with low efficiency and backup batteries, not dynamically monitored, having as consequence to request, for safety reason, preventive battery replacement on calendar basis.  At the very least there are cost implications for operators, as well an environmental impacts, if we consider the low efficiency of the power supply and the recycling of batteries that could be in a perfect condition; reducing energy consumption and battery life-time motivated companies to upgrade the installed base of power supplies with higher efficiency power sources, battery monitoring and real-time based communication between the power unit and the supervising center.

Site modernization is an important process: but, in the case of the gas industry, not enough to reach the objectives fixed by the different governments to reduce methane emissions that may result from gas leakage throughout the overall process, as reported by the Clean Air Task Force.

In the U.S.A, the White House published the Climate Action Plan "Strategy to reduce methane emissions" in March 2014. This document covers a large range of areas where methane emissions must be reduced; from agriculture, to oil and natural gas sector, highlighting the need to improve measurement methods (e.g. by developing new measurement technologies, including lower-cost emissions sensing equipment) and for operators to initiate activities to reduce gas leakage throughout the overall process.

The modernization process is very well aligned with the requirement but considering the scale of the overall chain additional measuring stations will be required to detect early leakage triggering action to repair as soon as detected. In that industry, time matters and the sooner a default identified, the lower the environmental impact; and for that reliable power sources are mandatory!

What is the best power solution gas, oil and hazardous substances, leakage-detection manufacturers should consider?

Safety and regulations
Many applications are using uninterruptable power supplies (UPS); though considering the nature of the industry segment, and potentially explosive environments, power designers have to consider a number of technical parameters, including specific legislations and regulations related to countries the final equipment is installed.

Gas detection is very much connected to business segment 'Fire Alarms' and, from the early days, power solutions designed for those types of applications have had to follow safety standards related to that segment.

In Europe, the EN 54 Fire detection and fire alarm systems is a mandatory standard that specifies requirements and laboratory tests for every component of fire detection and fire alarm systems, allowing free movement of construction products between countries of the European Union market. The part 4 (Power supply equipment - EN54-4:2007) specifies requirements, methods of test and performance criteria for power supply equipment of fire detection and fire alarm systems. Included in the standard are functionality tests, electrical and mechanical design requirements, as well environmental tests such as cold, vibration, impact, damp heat, and electromagnetic compatibility.

In the USA, the product must comply with the National Fire Protection Association standard NFPA 72-2010 and to the FM Approvals - standard for fire alarm signaling systems – class 3010 (FM3010). When certified equipment are stamped with a specific certification logo.

In other countries, additional standards may apply, which in close cooperation with equipment manufacturers, power designers have to consider at the early stages of the product development, e.g. in UK, the BRE Global Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB) verify and certify products operating in Fire Safety, stamped by the LPCB logo [figure 3].

Power supply – battery and monitoring and communication in focus
Standard power supplies powering Fire Alarms are usually dimensioned for small systems requiring limited current, 1.5A to 5.5A at 24V output. That is enough to power fire detectors, sensors and monitoring equipment but not sufficient for larger systems such as the ones deployed in the gas, oil and hazardous substance industry; especially when upgrading legacy systems.

This is where the custom power solution is considered by equipment manufacturers, requiring more power, higher battery capacity and extra features such as advanced monitoring and communication.

Power Supply - High power EN54-4 power solutions are supporting high capacity lead acid batteries; in this example up to 200Ah. High capacity batteries are requiring special attention on the way the power is balanced between the system bus voltage and battery charging.

The most optimized solution is to build a power system that includes two independent power supplies; the first one (28V/20A) to power the applications (e.g. infrared cameras) and the second (28V/15A) to charge the batteries as its main purpose.

Enclosed in an IP30 case, the power supplies and supervising circuitries require special attention on layout, to optimize free air convection, which is the case in the vast majority of applications. Thermally controlled fans can always be added for high temperature environments but designers have to develop the product based upon free air convection, dimensioning components and thermal management for such conditions. Conduction cooling is the rule, and technology such as passive heat-pipes are often considered.

Battery and Monitoring - As we mentioned earlier in the article, the reliability of EN54-4 power sources, supplying voltage to strategic applications and securing power to vital functions, in case of AC disruption, has no compromise. We used to say "Failure is not an option and battery integrity a must." That's where battery monitoring becomes a science, making the overall power system highly reliable.

Different methods exist to test battery integrity/capacity:

  • Full load test - For this test a constant current is drawn from the battery for an extended period of time (typically 20 hours). Measurements of current and voltage are taken periodically from which the capacity of the battery can be calculated.
  • Reduced load or Maintenance load test - Similar to the full load test except that the period is reduced (usually performed by operating the system on battery for a shorter period of time than for a full load test).
  • Momentary load or Pulse load – The test meter loads the battery with a pulsed or momentary series of loads. The duration and repetition of the load test cycle varies depending on the battery type and size.
  • Battery voltage reading - Typically the voltage of the battery is measured and compared to the optimal value expected; a small variation to this test is to allow a current to be drawn from the battery for a period of time to eliminate the surface charge.

Each method has advantages and disadvantages and the best method is a combination of all.

Considering the application and environment, system power designers have developed complex algorithms (part of companies' secrets), integrating battery specific parameters, in-situ operating conditions and predictive failure simulation, based on calculation and field data.

As the Fire Industry Association presented in "FIA Guidance Testing of lead acid batteries used in Fire Detection & Alarm System Power Supplies," one of the most critical parts in this process is the calibration.

As the battery ages, chemical degradation causes reduction in the battery's maximum chemical capacity, limiting performance and risk of failure. Defining the point when an alarm signal should be generated to request maintenance is very important and that can only be done with detailed battery knowledge.

In a perfect world, a calibration profile should belong to the battery, but unfortunately that is not always the case.  Currently the technical information available is not good enough for demanding applications, requiring power manufacturers to build their own databases, which are then integrated into the algorithms.

Calibration requires a large amount of data to establish the performance profile of the battery. That data are is based upon voltage at the cells under different conditions of load and temperature, the internal resistance (measured value from a large population), the dynamic behavior under load transient and few more part of the magic receipt.

When in operation, the EN54-4 power system permanently monitors the 'State of Charge' (Remaining battery capacity / Full charge capacity), the 'State of Health' (Full charge capacity / battery design capacity) and other parameters defined during the design process. In the case of the product presented as example, the PBUKW6004 tests the internal resistance and other parameters every 3 minutes with 10 cycles. The data is then compared with the calibration table and, if a deviation identified, the fault reported via the communication bus, as well as being communicated via a local LED on the front panel.

Communication – Power supplies used in Fire Detection & Alarm System are usually not embedding communication interface. When a default detected, a LED is lit on the front of the power unit and a relay (e.g. open collector transistor) switched to trigger an alarm.

In the case of gas leakage control, equipment could be deployed in remote areas or limited access during site operation. It is very important for the System Supervisor to know the state of each station in real time, requiring the power supply to communicate information to host/supervisor.

Adding an Internet RS-485 with Modbus protocol to the power unit makes it possible for the System Supervisor to tightly monitor the health of each individual site and the state of the batteries and, from data collected, to initiate technical maintenance when necessary.

Information collected through the communication bus is not limited to the battery, it could also include other useful information such as temperature, bus voltage condition and load condition, adding important information when monitoring safety in such operation.

Way forward and conclusion

Powering demanding applications such as gas leakage monitoring is very interesting and new technologies such as low power consumption sensors will require power designers to explore new territories in future, which is very exciting.

In the semiconductors domain, Gallium Nitride, Silicon Carbide or Gallium Arsenide are opening a full range of new applications and, as listed in the White House report under "Improving Methane Measurement" - developing new measurement technologies, including lower-cost emissions sensing equipment, an invitation to Power Designers to investigate harvesting energy.

To conclude, this article has sought to briefly convey the type of challenges power designers can expect to face, when developing power solutions for demanding applications, reflecting the huge amount of required competence and knowledge it requires. It certainly dispels the clichéd notion that the Industrial Power sector is a boring segment; rather demonstrating just how exciting it is and will become in the future.


Provided by Patrick Le Fèvre 
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Powerbox




ON Semiconductor Collaborates With Optimal Plus for Data Analytic-Driven Visibility into Manufacturing Operations
Posted: 2018-8-28

ON Semiconductor is collaborating with Optimal Plus to gather, analyze and build actionable insights out of the company's manufacturing data. As a leading supplier to the automotive industry, ON Semiconductor is pioneering innovative technologies that enable all aspects of automated driving and vehicle electrification. The company is also committed to developing the semiconductor technology capable of supporting the rigors of IoT and empowering businesses to capitalize on their investments to drive profitability and ultimately success.

Following an initial pilot project that demonstrated new levels of control and visibility into the company's manufacturing operations, ON Semiconductor and Optimal Plus will further leverage their solutions to connect the ON Semiconductor global manufacturing footprint as demand continues to grow for the company's complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) and charge-coupled device (CCD) image sensors and other technologies that are powering disruptive applications in strategic growth markets.

"Demand for power products for automotive applications continues to grow. With an expansive portfolio for power and automotive applications, we continue to see strong growth in our power related revenue for automotive applications," said Mark Goranson, ON Semiconductor senior vice president manufacturing. "With a broad range of power products for a complete spectrum of voltages starting from low voltage to high voltage, we also have one of the most comprehensive portfolios of power devices and modules. Partnering with Optimal Plus is a key element to enable the shift from detect to predict and eventually prevent."

"The Intelligent Sensing Group within ON Semiconductor is innovating vision beyond the human eye and holds imaging and technology leadership in automotive, space, industrial and medical mission-critical market segments," said Mitch Mooney, general manager of ON Semiconductor Nampa, Idaho operations. "Optimal Plus provides advanced analytics with real-time visibility of our test operations through their leading-edge software that enables big data analysis of all our test parameters. We expect significant benefits in capital efficiency, yield enhancements and quality improvements."

ON Semiconductor is deploying Optimal Plus solutions to provide increased visibility into their manufacturing processes, from e-test to wafer sort, and final test including communication between geographically-dispersed semiconductor teams. The solution includes deep, multi-stage product analytics for near real-time response capabilities. A core element of the deployment will be enabling ON Semiconductor to lower their Defective Parts Per Million (DPPM) rates to the single digit range.

"The Optimal Plus platform was designed to deliver the actionable insights that ON Semiconductor requires to intelligently adapt operations to increase product yield, quality and productivity," said Dan Glotter, Optimal Plus Founder and CEO. "Together, ON Semiconductor and Optimal Plus are demonstrating how operations optimization is keeping manufacturers ahead of an increased adoption of Industrial IoT, electric vehicles, machine vision and other disruptive applications in automotive and industrial end markets."

For more information, visit www.onsemi.com.

Powerbox presents flexible and adaptable Enhanced Rail Power Solutions at Innotrans 2018
Posted: 2018-8-23

The Powerbox Group, one of Europe’s largest power supply companies and a leading force in optimizing power solutions for demanding applications, has announced that it will be showcasing its PRBX Enhanced Rail Power Solutions (PRBX-ERPS) at Innotrans 2018 in Berlin, 18 – 21 September 2018, Hall 17, Booth 103. From low power board-mounted DC/DC converters up to fully customized power solutions delivering multi-kilowatts, PRBX-ERPS is one of the most flexible and adaptable power solutions for railway applications. Designed to reduce time to market and meet specific rail industry requirements, PRBX-ERPS building blocks and solutions are tailored to adjust performance and parameters quickly, reducing time to market for new equipment, time to modernization for renovation and refurbishing, and inventories and their associated costs. PRBX-ERPS flexibility is built on three pillars: board-mounted AC/DC and DC/DC solutions, modular solutions integrating modules, filters and collaterals, and DIN rail, cassettes and racks when the PRBX-ERPS adaptability relies on the extensive custom power solution library, which includes more than 3500 released projects.

As part of PRBX-ERPS, PRBX will present its latest series of advanced DC/DC converters that includes a range of 8 to 20W, board-mounted DC/DC units designed to meet railway specifications EN50155, EN50121-3-2, EN61373 and EN45545. With an impressive input voltage range of 13:1, and covering from 12 to 160V, the MAD33 (8W), MAD32 (10W), MAE35 (15W) and MAF35 (20W) are the Swiss army knife of power-systems designers, bringing simplicity to complex applications. A single part number is able to power a large range of transportation applications, reducing inventory and time to market. All products are manufactured using industry standard packaging and pinouts. The extra-wide series of DC/DC converters are suitable for low power loads and devices in railway applications such as communication devices, GSM-R phones and their docking stations, routers/Wi-Fi access points, small screens, USB charging sockets (both in-seat and driver’s cabin), sensors, and standby power for larger devices. The series is complemented by the 4:1 series of DC/DC converters delivering up to 600W with paralleling capability for extra power.

At its booth Powerbox will present a series of products and solutions designed for adaptability when customers are facing the challenging demands of refurbishing, modernization and/or upgrades. In such applications Powerbox is able to call on its extensive knowledge base that with more than 3,500 custom solutions delivered to market, represents a huge depth of knowledge forged in an industry in which it has excelled for more than 40 years.

Powerbox will also be sharing the latest company news regarding the acquisition of the Powerbox Group by the leading Japanese power supplies manufacturer COSEL and the benefits of joint forces and a combined offering.

Meet Powerbox at Innotrans 2018 in Berlin, 18 – 21 September 2018, Hall 17, Booth 103

CUI Partners with SnapEDA to Offer Free PCB Footprint Files
Posted: 2018-6-27

CUI today announced that it has teamed up with SnapEDA, the market-leading parts library for circuit board design, to provide designers with a catalog of free, ready-to-download PCB footprints and symbols for CUI’s range of board mount electromechanical components.

Circuit board design has historically been a time-consuming and challenging process due to the variety of product configurations and standards. With this partnership, users will be able to prevent footprint errors and design smarter, thanks to a library of verified PCB footprints and symbols readily available in all major CAD formats, including: Altium, Eagle, KiCad, OrCAD/Allegro, PADS/DxDesigner, and PCB123.

The files are free to download from CUI’s CAD model library and product pages, or via the SnapEDA website, where they can then be placed directly into a product’s design.

“This partnership with SnapEDA is a continuation of CUI’s mission to equip our customers with necessary design tools and resources at every stage of the product development cycle,” said Jeff Schnabel, CUI’s VP of Global Marketing. “The addition of these PCB footprint files bolsters CUI’s already extensive catalog of ready-made 3D models, further streamlining the design process for engineers,” Schnabel concluded.

“We are committed to building the industry’s largest, verified library of component models. Adding CUI and their broad portfolio of board level components to our catalog supplies yet another source from which engineers can gather PCB files for seamless integration into their designs,” stated Natasha Baker, CEO of SnapEDA.

Power supplies for railway applications – On the rails to 2020
Posted: 2018-6-6

In a study presented at the international rail exhibition, Innotrans 2016 in Berlin, the European Rail Industry summarized the state of the business as representing a market size estimated to reach 229 billion USD by 2020. This amount includes new infrastructures, trains and vehicles and an often hidden yet important part, railway modernization. From Asia to the USA, every country has a railway infrastructure, some of which some are 100 years old (e.g. catenaries).

To meet the growing market demand for enhanced safety and modernization in the USA the 'Grow America Act' supports railway modernization with predictable, dedicated investments. States and local communities need the certainty of sustained funding to make these transportation investments that are necessary to improve the infrastructure and support their economic growth. To meet this, the Act is investing $29 billion over a six year period to improve rail safety and invest in a National High-Performance Rail System. One particular area to benefit from the Act is Positive Train Control (PTC). PTC is a system of functional requirements for monitoring and controlling train movements, a type of train protection system. The Act also builds on current investments to enhance flexibility in financing programs that will better enable the rehabilitation of aging infrastructure. For sure, the power supplies share of these investments is marginal compared to heavy rolling stock or infrastructure. Though without power supplies, nothing would be possible, and so power designers are actively engaged in railway modernization.

As we approach the next edition of Innotrans, it is both relevant and interesting to take a minute to consider the many challenges that power supply manufacturers are facing in their quest to make railways safer, coupled with the highest service levels for passengers.

From conservative to progressive

For decades, the railway sector has been a challenging area for the power supply industry to develop very specific power solutions to meet the requirements of this complex market. The sector consists of three main categories: new equipment, modernization, and the maintenance and upgrading of equipment that entered service 10 years ago or more. Each of these categories represents particular demands on the part of the developer and requires skills specific to each case.

Although the railway sector is very conservative and priority is given to reliability and robustness, the new generation of "digital technology trained" engineers involved in the development of new rail systems are increasingly integrating digital control and encouraging the implementation of energy-efficient topologies such as the Gallium Nitride transistors. In the railway sector this approach is quite new, requiring more extensive qualification work during product development, bringing new constraints for engineers responsible for guaranteeing durable solutions for the next twenty years. This is a very interesting aspect for design engineers and a great opportunity to cooperate directly with the design offices of major railway customers.

From point-of-load to multi kilowatts - with compliance

The range of railway applications is very wide and consists of a large number of applications requiring simple proximity voltage regulators point-of-load (POL) to converters or inverters of several hundred kilowatts powering the motors of traction engines and other traction vehicles. In term of overall railway market, if we exclude the service part of the segment, rolling stock represents the majority of applications, followed by infrastructure and finally, track side and signaling. Each of these sub-segments has its own requirements that are specific to its environment. For example, converters for vehicle (e.g. locomotive) startup control, so called Low Battery Voltage Starter (LBVS) are connected to high voltage catenaries to deliver a low battery voltage, requiring very high insulation and high-level safety constraints. In addition, all on-board equipment must comply with general standards such as EN50155, which covers electronic equipment used in rolling stock (a standard that incorporates many other standards such as EN 50121-3-2 for electromagnetic compatibility). The railway field is highly standardized and each development begins with an analysis of the application case and related standards.

In addition to the traditional standards governing operating quality, operational parameters and safety, after more than 20 years of evaluation and its publication in 2013, this year the EN45545 standard (resistance and fire behavior) has become mandatory for all rolling stock. This standard aims to eliminate the risk of fire during a technical incident and all toxic fumes resulting from combustion of the product. For power supply manufacturers, this means selecting components that meet this standard and carrying out additional tests to ensure full compliance with the various chapters of EN45545.

Apart from the large number of standards, one of the specificities of the railway sector is the fact that many applications have very specific requirements in terms of housings and connectors, often resulting in products that are dedicated to a particular customer. While the trend is towards the standardization of card modules such as DC/DC converters, for more complex products such as locomotive starter converters or decentralized battery chargers, custom designed product remains the norm. This requires a development capacity geared towards these products and a high degree of flexibility in production. In fact, despite a growing market (+6% per year), the volumes of power supplies used in the railway sector remain modest compared to the millions of units consumed in the telecommunications sector, requiring the manufacturers, such as Powerbox, to adapt their production tools to specific demands.

Designing power for long life time

The majority of customers in the railway sector require a 30 years or more availability for some critical equipment. This means that during development this service life must be taken into account, as well as the possibility of the replacement of certain components such as electrolytic capacitors affected by aging during life time, must be considered during the design. Knowing that railway power supplies can be exposed to severe environmental effects such as temperature variations or shock and vibration during the life of the product, equipment manufacturers include "components refreshment and re-calibration" in their specifications. It is common to see products delivered more than 15 years ago return to the manufacturer for review and updating. This practice is very specific to the railway sector and has a strong influence on the way feeds are designed.

Indeed, a 30-year lifespan obliges design engineers to select components with a low risk of obsolescence but also to design the product for possible upgrade during its useful life. This adds a level of complexity but also limits the introduction of new technologies. As mentioned above, engineers in charge of the development of tomorrow's railway systems want to integrate new technologies, but the limited knowledge of their lifecycle and sustainability raises questions about the level of risk associated with their introduction. This is a topical issue that is being debated within the railway community which on the one hand wants to modernize its power supply systems to make them more energy-efficient and with better communications, and on the other hand to guarantee a risk-free sustainability.

Time to market challenges

Basically, the technologies used to develop railway power supplies are very similar to those used in other segments, and with years of experience, developers of the former have built up expertise enabling them to reduce development times. However, new standards and the introduction of new technologies will increase development time. Considering the wide range of power supplies used in railways, if we exclude so-called "standard" products such as modules for boards having a development cycle of about 14 months, more of customers' complex projects can easily reach 24 or even more months awaiting approval. This means working closely with OEMs who, aware of these delays and facing increasing price competition from Asia, are pushing for the development of blocks of functions that can be reused on multiple projects.

Because of the large and increasing demand pressure for modernization of rail systems, the design lead times have to be shortened, which means a different approach. In the case of rolling stock, this is rather complicated involving a number of specific aspects such as certifications. In the case of traffic control and signaling systems, the constraints are less stringent and it is possible to use power supplies such as those for DIN rail mounting that already exist. An energy subsystem such as ones provided by Powerbox's Battery Backup Unit (BBU) can be customized in less than three months to meet specific demands, including the addition of radio transmission telemetry systems. This is the type of modularity that OEMs are beginning to implement in rolling stock, but it will take time.

The impact of modernizing railway networks on power supplies has many aspects because it is not conceivable to stop the operation of the existing systems, nor to replace all existing infrastructure. For rolling stock, this often involves the addition of complementary technologies such as Wi-Fi for passenger comfort or on-board telemetry to increase safety. In this case, the power supplies are of a rather standard type and are often part of the installed system without any major change to rolling stock.

In the case of major modernization of a complete train (what is usually referred as "refurbishment") which consists of the revamping of one that has already endured a long life span, equipment manufacturers ask power supplies manufacturers to develop Fit, Form and Function (3F) alternatives. That is, a revised and updated power supplies but where the units' fit, form and function remain the same, thus reducing implementation delays and guaranteeing the durability of the host equipment for many years. The development of a 3F power supply is very close to a specific development, but by combining the expertise of engineers, the platforms available from manufacturers specialized in the field of railroads, and the reuse of the original case or chassis it makes possible to reduce development times spectacularly.

Most of the modernization of European rail networks is carried out at tracks and signaling systems level. Accordingly, equipment cabinets very often remain in place and installers ask for 3F solutions from the power supply manufacturers that can be installed in place of the old systems; a relatively simple process of "old equipment out, new equipment in". In the case of very old systems, the technique used is to install an industrial chassis in the cabinet to facilitate the installation of standardized racks, which subsequently reduces the time required for updating, such as adding additional radio-telemetry systems or connecting the cabinet to fiber optic systems.

The general trend in railway power supplies is to reduce development times by adopting standardized or semi-standardized sub-assemblies. This is the intention of equipment manufacturers and increasingly the adopted solution for systems close to the tracks or embedded applications using card converters or cassettes. However there will always remain very specific power supplies requiring on-demand solutions that will continue to call upon very specific skills.

Provided by Patrick Le Fèvre 
Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Powerbox




PSMA Announces New Officers and Board of Directors
Posted: 2018-4-26
Twelve-member board brings together industry leadership and expertise covering the dynamic technological advances impacting the power sources industry

The Power Sources Manufacturers Association (PSMA) is pleased to announce that a new slate of officers has been elected to lead its board of directors for the 2018-2020 term. The new officers are: Chairman Stephen Oliver (Navitas Semiconductor), President Mike Hayes (Tyndall National Institute), Vice President Fred Weber (Future Technology Worldwide) and Secretary/Treasurer Michel Grenon (Gaia Converter Inc.).

“PSMA continues to drive the promotion of the tremendous technical advances being made in power conversion systems, products and component technologies,” said Stephen Oliver, PSMA’s new chairman. “The Association’s critical work in producing its Technology Roadmap—plus the influential work from the PSMA committees on Packaging, Energy Management, Energy Harvesting, and many others—relies on the active participation of our members. We welcome and encourage all companies in our industry to become part of the organization.”

The twelve members of the board are elected by the member company representatives to serve three-year terms, with four members rotating off each year. In addition to the new officers, the following members complete the PSMA’s strong board of directors for 2018-2019:

  • Alain Chapius, Bel Power Solutions
  • Dhaval Dalal, ON Semiconductor
  • Alexander Gerfer, Würth Elektronik
  • Tim McDonald, Infineon Technologies
  • Brian Narveson, Narveson Innovative Consulting
  • Kevin Parmenter, Excelsys Technologies, Ltd., an Advanced Energy Company
  • Conor Quinn, Artesyn Embedded Technologies
  • Brian Zahnstecher, PowerRox
International Future Energy Challenge - A New Challenge
Posted: 2017-12-31

The Future Energy Challenge started in 2001 as a bi-annual competition in North America. Prof. Jason Lai from Virginia Tech organized this first competition. In 2003, the competition became an international event and was officially named the International Future Energy Challenge (IFEC). From 2003 to 2015, a total of 152 university teams had participated in IFEC. With more teams participating in the competition, the steering committee of IFEC decided to change the competition from a bi-annual event to an annual event starting in 2016.

In 2017, the competition was hosted by Prof. Qiang Li from the Center for Power Electronics Systems (CPES) at Virginia Tech. Sponsors of the 2017 IFEC include IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS), IEEE Industry Applications Society (IAS), IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES) and Power Sources Manufacturers Association (PSMA). Combining 2016 and 2017, the number of IFEC participants are almost doubled from the past bi-annual competitions.

In 2017, the competition topic was high-Efficiency high-density isolated dc/dc converter. The converter needed to work with a dc input (360~400 V dc) and output a constant 12 V dc voltage with a peak power of 750 W. The targeted power density was 15 W/cm3 or higher with a peak efficiency requirement of 97% at 50% of the rated load. At the final onsite competition, the converter went through all functional tests, and a 55 oC high operation temperature test. Competition  teams  were  encouraged  to  adopt  WBG  power devices  in  innovative  circuit  topologies  to achieve high efficiency and high density at the same time.  Twenty-three teams from five continents joined the competition. The grand prize went to Kunming University of Science and Technology. You can see the full list of winners at energychallenge.weebly.com/ifec-2017.html.

The IFEC2018 call for proposals is already out. This time, the topic is high-efficiency high-density isolated bidirectional dc/dc converter for residential energy storage systems. The final competition will be hosted at the Tsinghua University in Beijing. Visit energychallenge.weebly.com/ifec-2018.html for more information. The IFEC2019 will be hosted at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.  The topic will be electric bicycle with an emphasis on motor control.  IFEC, a new challenge awaits!

Provided by
IFEC 2017 Organizing Committee Members:
Qiang Li, Virginia Tech
Jin Wang, Ohio State University
Yaow-ming Chen, National Taiwan University


PSMA Offers Power Supply Safety & Compliance Database as Free Resource for All Industry Professionals
Posted: 2016-7-1
On-line database provides comprehensive review of international operational, environmental and safety standards; access offered free to PSMA members and non-members

The Power Sources Manufacturers Association (PSMA) announces the availability of a new on-line Safety & Compliance Database. The continually updated resource lists the many state, national and worldwide organizations currently active in establishing and maintaining safety, electromagnetic compatibility, material toxicity and environmental standards for power supplies used in commercial applications. Recognizing the database as an invaluable tool for power electronics industry professionals, the PSMA is offering it free of charge to both PSMA members and non-members alike.

Intended users of the Safety & Compliance Database are those who design power systems for products that will be offered in the global marketplace, and who therefore need to comply with current and evolving safety and standards for their target markets. The database can be searched by specific applications; giving the most recent status of standards, identifying key documents, meetings and milestones associated with each standard, and providing links to the appropriate websites of controlling organizations.

“As companies design their new products for global markets, they have to grapple with current, new – and sometimes conflicting – safety standards and regulations,” reported Kevin Parmenter and Jim Spangler, co-chairs of the PSMA Safety & Compliance Committee. “Our new Safety & Compliance Database provides a vital resource for engineers and product planners as they keep abreast of standards, including ongoing activities, proposed changes and updates, and information on the latest versions.”

The PSMA contracted with Anagenesis Inc. to create and provide continual updates to the database. Interested users can opt in to receive weekly email alerts about new information and changes. The database also features the ability for users to request permission to direct and track information on emerging standards, which enables the database to evolve and improve.

The Safety & Compliance Database is easily accessible from the Quick Links on the upper right of the PSMA homepage or the Safety Database tab of the Safety & Compliance Technical Forum. Anyone who already has an account on the PSMA website, just needs to log in to access the database. Those who have not yet registered must follow an easy registration process to request access.

Why Should Your Company Be A Member Of PSMA?
Posted: 2014-12-21

The PSMA is a not-for-profit organization incorporated in the state of California whose purpose is to enhance the stature and reputation of its members and their products, to improve their knowledge of technological and other developments related to power sources, and to educate the entire electronics industry, plus academia, as well as government and industry agencies as to the importance of, and relevant applications for, all types of power sources and conversion devices.

By joining with other leaders in the Industry, you and your company will have a greater voice and influence on the directions of the Power Sources Industry. Some specific benefits of membership include:

  • Networking: The opportunity to meet and interact with counterparts in other companies on an ongoing basis
  • Involvement: The opportunity to be involved with the planning and managing of APEC—the Applied Power Electronics Conference-- sessions that focus on the specific interest of members
  • Participation: The opportunity to participate in committees, workgroups and studies to derive a better understanding of market trends, industry trends and better operational procedures to improve performance
  • Discounts: Individuals from PSMA member companies receive discounts on registration fees for attending APEC
  • Industry Trends: Increase awareness and knowledge of trends and factors that can impact your career and provide valuable inputs for product planning
  • Company Profile: All member company profiles are listed on the PSMA Web Site together with a hyperlink directly to the company Web Site
  • PSMA Publications: Regular and Associate member companies receive a copy of all new PSMA publications and reports with discounts for additional copies. Affiliate member companies can purchase PSMA publications at a discount
  • Employment Resources: Post job openings on the PSMA website and browse student resumes
  • Benchmarking: The opportunity to participate in benchmarking studies with other companies in your industry
  • PSMA Newsletter: Receive “Update” the quarterly newsletter of the PSMA, with informative articles on activities in the industry and a calendar of upcoming industry events
  • Spotlight Banner: Your company’s products can be featured as a banner on the PSMA Home Page

PSMA membership dues are modest in comparison to the benefits offered. Is your company a member of PSMA? If not, why not? You can find the membership application on the PSMA web site at http://www.psma.com/webforms/psma-membership-application.

We look forward to receiving your application in the near future so you can take advantage of the registration discount at APEC. The 2015 Power Technology Roadmap will be available in mid March and all Regular and Associate members of PSMA will receive a free copy of the report as a benefit of membership. Affiliate members will receive a discount on the Roadmap and other PSMA reports.


Get More From Your PSMA Membership – Join A Committee
Posted: 2011-8-28


PSMA membership provides many benefits for you and your company. It gives you personally the opportunity to meet, network and interact with your counterparts in other companies on an ongoing basis. It also provides an opportunity to be involved with the planning and managing of APEC, as well as giving you and your colleagues a discount on registration fees for attending APEC.


Your company gets a listing on the PSMA web site with a hyperlink directly to your company web site. In addition, your company has an invitation to provide a Spotlight Banner to showcase its latest product on the PSMA Home Page

Your company also receives free or discounted copies of PSMA publications and reports,

An important membership benefit is the opportunity to join and participate in one or more of the PSMA Technical Committees. Participating in one or more committees is the best way to increase the benefits from your company and your personal PSMA membership. People involved in PSMA Technical Committees all agree that their investment returns multiple benefits that surpass the time spent participating – both for their company and for their own careers. Just ask someone who is a committee member. The committee provides the opportunity to network with knowledgeable people who are influencing the power sources industry.

You are encouraged to join a committee and get involved in their activities. Most committees meet about once a month for about one hour by teleconference. You are welcome to attend a committee meeting before making a decision to join the group. If you are interested in attending one of the meetings, please contact the Association Office for call-in information.


This is an open invitation to participate in or join any committee. Bring your experience, interest and enthusiasm. Currently PSMA has the following committees:

  • Alternative Energy
  • Capacitors
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Energy Harvesting
  • Industry-Education
  • Magnetics
  • Membership
  • Marketing
  • Nanotechnology
  • Power Electronics Packaging
  •  Semiconductors
  • Technology Roadmap

Your participation will contribute added value to the subject and enhance your own knowledge.

It’s a great way to network with your colleagues.

For more information describing the committees and the dates for the next meetings, please view the PSMA web site or contact the PSMA office at power@psma.com.



Power Electronics Timeline DRAFT
Posted: 2011-6-29

The Power Sources Manufacturers Association has drafted a power electronics timeline and a "corporate" genealogy chart for the industry to review. As we get inputs, we will be updating these files on a periodic basis. Consequently these files are subject to change until we hear from all affected parties or until enough time has transpired at which time the files will be finalized.

If you have any inputs to share, please contact ada@adaclock.com or the PSMA office.

PSMA Provides On-Line Energy Efficiency Standards Database
Posted: 2010-5-1

The Power Sources Manufacturers Association (PSMA) has announced availability of its On-line Energy Efficiency Database (EEDB) as a service to the industry. The number of energy efficiency standards and the world wide agencies that generate them continue to grow daily. It is time consuming for an individual or company to keep track of the many actions and activities by government and industry groups. The PSMA on-line energy efficiency standards database provides one click access to the very latest global standards and initiatives.

Some of the useful features:

  • Quick access to world region, agency, or standards application
  • Expanded data includes list of specific standards generated by an agency and parametric specifications for each regulation
  • Expanded description of regulations and agencies
  • Enhanced descriptions that include html code for quick linking to agency site or database location
  • Latest schedule of standards meetings

Dusty Becker, PSMA Board Chairman and chair of the PSMA Energy Efficiency Committee, states that The PSMA On-line Energy Efficiency Data Base which incorporates a number of improvements suggested by product planners to keep current is a valuable resource for engineers. We are pleased to offer this resource free of charge to our membership and to the industry. 

Handbook of Standardized Terminology now available on "Members Only"
Posted: 2008-1-4

The Handbook of Standardized Terminology For The Power Sources Industry-Third Edition - has been made available as a download on the Members Only area of the PSMA website. Revised and expanded, this unique publication includes definitions for more than 1200 terms related to power electronics which were especially selected for the power electronics professional. The Third Edition also contains illustrations and four new appendices, including a listing of EMI specifications, excerpts from international standards of units and symbols, along with guides for authors of technical papers. Many new magnetic terms are described in this new 126-page third edition that are of particular interest to the practicing designer and marketer of power supplies and related products. Valuable information regarding worldwide power sources, standards agencies, and military specifications has been retained, updated and expanded from the previous edition. Titles of the appendices are: Testing and Standards Agencies; Designer's Reference; World Voltages and Frequencies; Military Specifications; EMI Specifications; Writing Technical Papers for Archival Publications; Units, Symbols and Style Guide; A Brief Writing Guide. These added resources provide concise, easy-to-use references for engineeers involved in technical writing and presentations. If your company is a member of PSMA, you may register for the "Members Only" area using your email address. The registration form requires you to enter your company PSMA member number. You may contact the Association Office if you do not know the member number.

Getting More From Your PSMA Membership
Posted: 2005-9-27
A letter to the Membership from Chuck Mullett, PSMA Chairman March 18, 2003

In a recent monthly teleconference of our Membership Committee we had a lively discussion about how we are serving our membership, what projects we are doing, and how we might communicate better with you, our member companies. Realizing that communication is always a key ingredient, I volunteered to write to you and give you a personal snapshot of what’s going on.

Mission: To integrate the resources of the power sources industry to more effectively and profitably serve the needs of the power sources users, providers and PSMA members.

As it is with many trade organizations, membership can be a spectator sport. The organization appreciates your support in the form of dues, because there’s always overhead that must be paid. But, what good is an organization that simply collects dues, pays the phone bills and mailing costs, and tries to survive until the next wave of dues submittals? Clearly, this would be a waste of time. In organizations like PSMA, the worth of the group is directly and totally a result of the efforts of its members. This is not a new concept. Service organizations around the world have always operated in just this way. Think about Rotary International, comprised of business leaders who volunteer their time in an environment of fellowship to help each other succeed in their businesses and help students with scholarships, etc. They take on meaningful projects in their communities, help their communities, and have fun doing it. It is possible to maintain membership in Rotary by simply paying dues and attending meetings. But---it is clear that those who get the most out of their membership are the ones who get involved in the projects. They get to know the other members, gaining friendships and insight into their own businesses. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, they have a lot of fun. When people ask us about PSMA, we usually recite a couple of sentences about the organization, its membership and mission, and then we’re bragging joyfully about the projects recently completed and the ones in process. For me, personally, the projects are exciting, as they give me valuable insight It has become a tradition over the past few years to make use of the Saturday preceding APEC (usually in late February or early March) to hold a major workshop, taking advantage of the presence of the leaders of the power electronics industry. Two years ago Lou Pechi culminated the work of his Low Voltage Workshop team in an all-day meeting that resulted in the book that’s probably on you bookshelf. Leaders from several end users and power supply manufacturing companies spent countless hours preparing papers and presentations, and then more volunteers transcribed the workshop and edited the final report. If you’re involved in the move toward lower voltage power delivery, I hope you’ve had a chance to use it. Last year that pre-APEC Saturday was spent in PSMA’s Integration Workshop, organized by Arnold Alderman. We hope this project saved many of our member companies tens of thousands of dollars trying to figure out how to advance their power supply technology by the use of semi-custom or fully-custom ICs. The question, “Should I go into the silicon design business, joint venture with a semiconductor manufacturer or simply wait for the next wave of ICs” can be difficult to answer. Your Association decided that tackling this question rigorously and publishing the answers would be of considerable value to the membership. We enlisted the help of our colleagues in Ireland, PEI Technologies, after a bidding process involving several candidate organizations. Both volumes of this report have been sent to PSMA Regular and Associate member companies as a benefit of membership. This study cost under $35,000, because of the hundreds of volunteer hours spent by several PSMA members. Prior to this, we had spent well over a year and around $40,000 on the Status of Power Electronics Packaging (StatPEP) project, also using the crew in Ireland to analyze ten dc-dc converters and ten 500-watt ac-dc power supplies. They dissected these units after a battery of electrical measurements, took countless photos and x-rays, and reported the findings in the now-famous “StatPEP Report” that we hope is in your possession and has been of benefit to your company. Again, hundreds of hours were spent by PSMA volunteers overseeing the PEI work, writing papers, presenting them at the workshop and also presenting a half-day summary seminar at APEC 2000. We have now held the fourth Power Technology Roadmap Workshop, which took place on the Saturday preceding APEC 2003 in February. Don Staffiere started this triennial study in 1994 and faithfully repeated it in 1997 and 2000. It involves heavy effort of over 20 volunteers, not only from PSMA but also from other companies. The final product will be a comprehensive publication containing trending of all aspects of power electronics technology---design, manufacturing, components technology, marketing, sales and in-depth information from the users about their needs over the next five years. This exercise will be done without any outside contracts, except the printing of the reports. So---what else has PSMA done for me? Well, let me introduce you to the PSMA Web site! It’s hard to believe, but it consistently receives over 16,000 hits per month! If you supplied the requested information, there’s a link to your Web site, and your company name scrolls by continuously on the home page. Please, if you haven’t done so, drop by and give your mouse a little exercise---you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Be sure to look at the quarterly newsletter, UPDATE. The current edition goes on for 18 pages; including many APEC 2003 pictures and scenes of your PSMA team at work (Joe Horzepa has one of those wonderful digital cameras with the cheap film!) What MORE can PSMA do for me? Plenty! We’re strong, eager and capable. Over half of the sales revenue of the power supply manufacturers in the US is represented in PSMA’s membership. Membership from the components community is also very strong, and so is our membership from academia and leading consultants. As one of the three sponsors of APEC, we share in the financial outcome of the conference, and it’s been very positive over the past few years. Our financial net worth is over $70,000. As a non-profit organization, we simply return our revenues from APEC, member dues and publication sales, to our membership as efficiently and effectively as we can. In addition to the present system of value exchange here’s how you can “milk” much more out of your membership. I thought I would make a list, but as the thoughts rolled around in my head, I realized they all comprised a single theme. It’s extremely simple. “Get involved.” I can tell you, and so can my colleagues, that the benefits from being truly active in an organization like PSMA far outstrip all of the many publications that attempt to summarize its activities. There’s much more in store for you than simply hearing what goes on in our committee meetings, workshops and research projects. What happens in these activities is (and I’ll be the first to admit it doesn’t happen all the time) almost magical. After many years of sticking my neck out and getting involved in these activities I’ve come to some revelations. As I wrote in my paper for APEC 2000 about “Defining your own excellence,” these volunteer organizations have an unusually high population density of effective people. It’s partly because the volunteer aspect acts as an input filter---everyone had to exercise some initiative to be there in the first place. 1. They had to “show up” (it’s been written that this is 80% of success). 2. They had to say, “I’ll do that,” when the discussion rolled around to figuring out how to organize the project. 3. They had to deliver. The level of performance is extremely high, because the people are “turned on” about what they’re doing. Some valuable friendships are formed while working together on these projects. As many of them involve research about power supply technology, components, reliability, marketing and sales, this work may uncover valuable information that you might otherwise not find. More important than the content of the work, in my opinion, is the interaction with exciting colleagues who are really enjoying their careers. I can’t tell you how many times my life has been enriched by these experiences. One of the reasons I’m taking the time to write this is to share this with you. I hope you’ll accept my invitation to get involved yourself. I hope, even more, that you will pick one or two of your co-workers to get involved with us. Please pick up your phone and call me at my office in California, 805 933-4607, or drop an email to me at chuck.mullett@onsemi.com. We can chat further about how your membership in PSMA can become much more valuable to you and your company. Sincerely, Chuck Mullett Chairman, PSMA

An Engineer's Guide to using Google by Chuck Mullett
Posted: 2005-8-23

Years ago we had to surround ourselves with printed reference material to provide the data on components used in our designs and applications papers to help in their use. Many of these were free, but some others cost over $100 each and became obsolete almost as fast as we obtained them. Today, the picture has changed dramatically. Most of this information is available at no cost through the Internet; the amount of information is so huge that the new challenge is sorting it out. When the semiconductor committee of PSMA began to study the problem of helping engineers find the information needed, the change in the way we do our jobs became blatantly obvious. Even this task has been made easier, because of help from the Internet.

Here is our conclusion: Google is perhaps the most advanced search engine in the world at this time. Surprisingly, it’s not just for lay people who are looking for new recipes or ways to remodel their bedrooms. Its capability to provide us with the sophisticated technical help we need is astounding. It has the capacity to improve its performance, on its own, as it is used. Our job in helping our members and others in the industry has been reduced from one of searching, rating and cataloging materials to one of simply providing a few hints about using Google. We suggest you try it for yourself, get familiar with its capability, and use it the next time you need information. Here are some examples for you to try:

1. Go to Google.com and type in power factor correction. Our result was that 2,190,000 references were retrieved in 0.23 seconds. Now, type in “power factor correction” and see the difference. We got 155,000 references in about the same amount of time. What is even more amazing is that the references were valid! Even in the first case---we looked through the first 120 on the list, and didn’t find even one irrelevant citing.

2. Try “mag amp” and retrieve 8,870 references. All were valid until we got down to the 29th one on the list, which referred to a slow-release garden fertilizer. 28 out of 29 is a validity score of 96.6%---not bad for software!!!

In Example 1 we saw the difference of enclosing the phrase in quotation marks. Doing so causes the search engine to look for precisely that phrase. Without this, the search engine will find hits on each of the words individually, inviting irrelevant references.

To the right of the search window on the home page you will find “Advanced Search.” Clicking on it will produce a page full of easy-to-use tricks to improve the search, including “Advanced Search Tips” on the top line of the page. This gives even more useful information to produce more effective results. Google is so easy that if you’ll spend only 5 minutes with it, you’ll be producing better results than you can find in a world-class library, without leaving your desk. Try it first, then try other search engines. We did this, and found a plethora of irrelevant “hits.” We invite your comments.

Power Supplies - Make vs Buy
Posted: 2003-1-24

A discussion of criteria to consider when deciding whether you should make or buy power supplies when creating equipment.

Power Supplies - Make vs Buy



Technical Writing Guides
Posted: 2003-1-24

The following documents are provided to assist you in your technical writing. Please note that if you would like a hard copy of the Units, Symbols & Styles Guide in a handy one-page format, you may purchase copies in the Publications Section.

Units, Symbols and Style Guide

A Brief Writing Guide

Site Design: David Fogle Design

Contact us:   Tel: (973) 543-9660   Fax: (973) 543-6207   power@psma.com
P.O. Box 418, Mendham, NJ 07945-0418
© 2019Power Sources Manufacturers Association.

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