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Multilevel Inverter

Jagdish Kumar1, Biswarup Das2, and Pramod Agarwal2

1

Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Roorkee, India

Email: jkb70dee@iitr.ernet.in

2

Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Roorkee, India

Email: {biswafee, pramgfee}@iitr.ernet.in

Abstract—In this paper, an optimization technique is distortion. There are different approaches for the

proposed to compute switching angles at fundamental selection of switching techniques for the multilevel

frequency switching scheme by solving non linear inverters [4]-[9], one of the important techniques is

transcendental equations (known as selective harmonic selective harmonic elimination (SHE) method. In SHE

elimination equations), thereby eliminating certain

predominating lower order harmonics, and simultaneously,

technique, certain predominating lower order harmonics

control over magnitude of output voltage of a multilevel are eliminated whereas higher order harmonics are

inverter is achieved. As these equations are nonlinear filtered using suitable filter. Switching angles are

transcendental in nature, there may exist simple, multiple or computed by solving the SHE equations, but it is difficult

even no solution for a particular value of a modulation to solve SHE equations because of their nonlinear

index. The proposed scheme is implemented in such a way characteristics. Due to nonlinear nature, solution of these

that all possible solutions are obtained without knowing equations may be simple, multiple or even no solution for

proper initial guess at the solutions. Moreover, this a particular value of modulation index (m). A big task is

technique is suitable for higher level of multilevel inverters how to get all possible solutions when they exist using

where other existing methods fail to compute the switching

angles due to more computational burden. For the values of

simple and less computationally complex method. Once

modulation indices where multiple solutions exist, the these solutions are obtained, the solutions having least

solutions which produce least THD in the output voltage is THD are selected for switching purpose.

chosen. A significant decrease in THD is obtained by In [4], [5], iterative numerical techniques such as

considering multiple solution sets instead of taking a single Newton- Raphson method have been implemented to

set of solution. The computational results are shown solve the SHE equations producing only one solution set,

graphically for better understanding and to prove the and even for this a proper initial guess and starting value

effectiveness of the method. An experimental 11-level of m for which solutions exist are required. Some

cascade multilevel inverter is employed to validate the techniques as discussed in [6], [7], here SHE equations

computational results.

are first converted into polynomial equations, and then

Index Terms—Cascade multilevel inverter, modulation the resulting polynomial equations are solved using

index, objective function, total harmonic distortion (THD), theory of resultants of polynomials and the theory of

sequential quadratic programming (SQP). symmetrical polynomials, producing all possible

solutions. A difficulty with these approaches is that for

I. INTRODUCTION higher levels of multilevel inverter the order of

polynomials becomes very high, thereby making the

Multilevel inverters are more advanced and latest type computations of solutions of these polynomial equations

of power electronic converters that synthesize a desired very complex. Optimization techniques based on Genetic

output voltage from several levels of dc voltages as Algorithm (GA) and Particle Swarm Optimizations

inputs. By taking sufficient number of dc sources, a (PSO) have been discussed in [8], [9] for computing

nearly sinusoidal voltage waveform can be synthesized. switching angles only for 7-level multilevel inverters.

In comparison with the hard-switched two-level pulse The implementation of these approaches requires proper

width modulation inverters, multilevel inverters offer selection of certain parameters such as population size,

several advantages including their capabilities to operate mutation rate, initial weight etc. It becomes difficult to

at high voltage with lower voltage stress per switching, select these parameters for higher level multilevel

high efficiency and low electromagnetic interferences [1], inverters. To circumvent above mentioned problems, a

[3] etc. simple optimization technique based on sequential

To synthesize multilevel output ac voltage using quadratic programming (SQP) is proposed in this paper to

different levels of dc inputs, semiconductor devices must solve SHE equations which produces all possible

be switched on and off in such a way that desired solutions. The proposed technique is implemented in such

fundamental is obtained with minimum harmonic a way that all possible solutions for any number of H-

bridges connected in series are computed by using any

arbitrary initial guess with negligible computational

1 Corresponding author: Tel. No. +91-9410747840, Email Addresses:

jkb70dee@iitr.ernet.in, jk_bishnoi@yahoo.com

effort. A complete analysis for an 11-level inverter using

RESEARCH PAPER

International Journal of Recent Trends in Engineering, Vol 1, No. 3, May 2009

five H-bridges per phase in series is presented, and it is cascade and using proper modulation scheme, a nearly

shown that for a range of m, switching angles can be sinusoidal output voltage waveform can be synthesized.

computed to produce the desired fundamental voltage The number of levels in the output phase voltage is 2s+1,

along with elimination of 5th, 7th, 11th, and 13th order where s is the number of H-bridges used per phase. Fig. 2

harmonic components. The computational results are shows an 11-level output phase voltage waveform using

validated through experiments. five H-bridges. The magnitude of the ac output phase

voltage is given by van = va1+va2+va3+va4+va5 [2].

II. CASCADE MULTILEVEL INVERTER In general, when s number of H-bridges per phase is

Cascade Multilevel Inverter (CMLI) is one of the most connected in cascade, the Fourier series expansion of the

important topology in the family of multilevel inverters. staircase output voltage waveform is given by (1).

It requires least number of components with compare to

∞

diode-clamped and flying capacitors type multilevel 4Vdc

inverters. It has modular structure with simple switching v an ( wt ) = ∑

k =1, 3, 5 kπ

(cos (kα 1 ) + ...

strategy and occupies less space [1] - [3].

The CMLI consists of a number of H-bridge inverter + cos (kα s )) sin (kwt ) (1)

units with separate dc source for each unit and is

connected in cascade or series as shown in Fig. 1. Each

III. PROBLEM FORMULATION AND SELECTIVE HARMONIC

H-bridge can produce three different voltage levels: +Vdc,

ELIMINATION EQUATIONS

0, and –Vdc by connecting the dc source to ac output side

by different combinations of four switches S1, S2, S3, and For a given fundamental peak voltage V1, it is required

S4. The ac output of each H-bridge is connected in series to determine the s switching angles such that the selection

such that the synthesized output voltage waveform is the of one angle is used to determine V1 and remaining (s-1)

sum of all of the individual H-bridge outputs. angles are used to eliminate the same number of

harmonics (generally lower order harmonics), and also all

switching angles should be in the range 0 ≤ α1 < α2 < … <

S1 S2 α5 ≤ π/2. In three-phase power system, triplen harmonics

+ are canceled out automatically in line-to-line voltages as

va v a1 Vdc _ a result only non-triplen odd harmonics are present in

S3 S4 line-to-line voltages [3], [4].

For an 11-level cascade inverter, there are five H-

bridges per phase i.e. s = 5 or five degrees of freedom are

S2

available; one degree of freedom is used to control the

S1

magnitude of the fundamental output voltage and the

v a2

+

Vdc _

remaining four degrees of freedom are generally used to

eliminate 5th, 7th, 11th, and 13th order harmonic

S3 S4

components as they dominate the total harmonic

distortion [5].

The modulation index, m is defined as the ratio of the

S1 S2 fundamental output voltage to the maximum obtainable

v a3 +

voltage (maximum voltage is obtained when all switching

Vdc _ angles are zero). From (1), the relation between m and

S3 S4 switching angles is given as:

S1 S2

v a4 +

Vdc _

S3 S4

S1 S2

v a5 +

n Vdc _

S3 S4

Figure 1. Configuration of a single-phase 11-level CMLI. Figure 2. Output voltage waveform of an 11-level CMLI.

Similarly from (1), expressions for 5th, 7th, 11th, and

By connecting the sufficient number of H-bridges in th

13 harmonic components (scaled values) are given as:

182

© 2009 ACADEMY PUBLISHER

RESEARCH PAPER

International Journal of Recent Trends in Engineering, Vol 1, No. 3, May 2009

optimization toolbox [12].

cos(5α1 ) + cos(5α 2 ) + ... + cos(5α 5 ) = h5

V. COMPUTATIONAL RESULTS

cos(7α 1 ) + cos(7α 2 ) + ... + cos(7α 5) = h7

By implementing the proposed method, all possible

cos(11α1 ) + cos(11α 2 ) + ... + cos(11α 5 ) = h11 solution sets for an 11-level CMLI were computed and a

complete analysis is also presented. Starting with any

cos(13α1 ) + cos(13α 2 ) + ... + cos(13α 5 ) = h13 (3)

random initial guess all solution sets were computed by

incrementing m in small steps from 0 to 1. The nature of

Equations (2) and (3) in combined form are known as the results obtained is shown (only in the range of m

SHE equations in terms of five unknowns α1, α2, α3, α4, where solutions occur) in Fig. 3. By using preliminary

and α5; provided that h5, h7, h11, h13 are identically zero. computed results from Fig. 3, complete solution sets were

For the given value of m (from 0 to1), it is required to get computed as shown in Fig. 4. It can be seen from the Fig.

complete and all possible solutions for the switching 4 that the solutions do not exist at lower and upper ends

angle (0 to π/2) when the solutions exist, with minimum of the modulation indices and also for m = [0.3800

computational burden and complexity. 0.4400], [0.7300 0.7310], and [0.7330 0.7470]. Multiple

Following objective function is formulated to solve solution sets exist for m = [0.5050 0.5800], [0.6120

SHE equations using optimization technique: 0.7000]. Even some solutions existing in very narrow

range of m = [0.3760 0.3790], [0.5470 0.5490], [0.7320]

Φ (α1 ,α 2 , α 3 ,α 4 , α 5 ) = h5 + h7 + h11 + h13 (4)

2 2 2 2 were also obtained by implementing the proposed

method, hence this demonstrate the capability of

proposed method in computing all possible solution sets.

Now, (4) is to be minimized subject to equality

constraints given by (2) and 0 ≤ α1 < α2 < … < α5 ≤ π/2.

Feasible solutions exist only where objective function (4)

is identically zero.

To solve the SHE equations using optimization

technique, a proper initial guess at the solution is

required. In general it is difficult to make initial guess i.e.

what value one should start with. In the proposed

technique no such specific initial guess is required i.e.

one can start with any random initial guess and can obtain

required information about the nature of the solutions.

Once initial knowledge about the solutions is known,

different solution sets (in case of multiple solutions) can

be obtained by using switching angles thus obtained as

initial guess. Figure 3. Solution sets computed with an arbitrary initial guess.

The algorithm for the optimization technique is as

follows:

1) Assume any random initial guess for switching

angles such that 0 ≤ α1 < α2 < … < α5 ≤ π/2.

2) Set m = 0;

3) Calculate the objective function and check

equality constraints.

4) Accept the solution if Φ is zero and equality

constraints are satisfied, else drop the solution.

5) Increment m by a very small value and repeat

step 4).

6) Plot the switching angles thus obtained as a

function of m and observe the nature of the

solutions. Different solution sets appear.

7) Take one solution set at a time and compute all

switching angles set for the whole range of m,

where solutions exist, by taking solutions

obtained in step 6 as initial guess. Figure 4. Exact solution sets for 11-level CMLI.

8) Complete other solution sets in similar way. For each of the multiple solution sets as computed

To implement the above algorithm, the sequential above, total harmonic distortion (THD) in percent is

quadratic programming (SQP) method [10], [11] has been computed according to (5), the set of switching angles

used and been implemented by using MATLAB among multiple solutions sets which produce least THD

183

© 2009 ACADEMY PUBLISHER

RESEARCH PAPER

International Journal of Recent Trends in Engineering, Vol 1, No. 3, May 2009

plots for different solution sets along with combined

solution are plotted as a function of m in Fig. 5. It can be

seen from the Fig. 5 that there is a significant decrease in

THD if one uses all possible solution sets for determining

the combined solution instead of using only one solution

set as reported in [3]-[5]. For example, if one computes

THD produced due to all possible solution sets at m =

0.5470 (at this value of modulation index, there are three

solution sets), the difference in THD for the solution sets

having highest and lowest THD is about 3%.

2 2 2

V17 + V19 + ... + V49 Figure 5. THD of different solution sets.

THD = × 100 (5)

V1

order harmonic components (non-triplen odd harmonics

only) respectively, and V1 is magnitude of fundamental

voltage.

One of the key features of the proposed method is that

the switching angles can be obtained for those values of

modulation indices for which solutions of sets of

equations given by (2) and (3) do not exist, thus

producing continuous solution for the complete range of

m from 0 to 1. In this case, the objective function given

by (4) is minimized (instead of making it zero) subjected

to equality constraint given by (2) with switching angles Figure 6. Variation of objective function.

range 0 ≤ α1 < α2 < … < α5 ≤ π/2. Variation of the

objective function with m is shown in Fig. 6. The

switching angles corresponding to least THD for the

values of m where solutions exist, and corresponding to

least objective function for the values of m where

solutions do not exist are plotted in Fig. 7. The plot for

switching angles in Fig. 7 is plotted only for the range of

m where THD is below certain limits.

A prototype single-phase 11-level CMLI has been built

using 400V, 10A MOSFET as the switching device. Five

separate dc supply of 13V each is obtained using step

down transformers with rectifier unit. Pentium 80486

Figure 7. Switching angles.

processor based PC with clock frequency 2MHz with

timer I/O card is used for firing pulse generation. Firing The experimentally produced phase voltage along with

pulses to the switching devices are given through a delay its harmonic spectrum corresponding to lowest THD is

circuit which provides 5µsec delay to avoid any short shown in Fig. 8, and in Fig. 9 phase voltage with

circuit due to simultaneous conduction of devices in the corresponding harmonic spectrum for the solution having

same leg of H-bridges. highest THD is depicted. The harmonic spectrums of

In order to validate the analytical and simulated results, synthesized phase voltage show that 5th, 7th, 11th, and 13th

an 11-level single-phase output voltage at m = 0.5480 (for harmonics are almost absent as predicted analytically.

this value of m three solution sets exist) was synthesized The THD in line to line voltage as computed analytically

at fundamental frequency (f = 50Hz). The fundamental and experimentally are: 5.70% and 5.25% respectively

voltage V1 produced was 45.34V (peak) as calculated for the solution set producing least THD in the output

using (1) and (2). For each of the multiple solution set, voltage. Corresponding data for the solution set having

THD in line to line voltage was computed as per (5). highest THD are 8.28% and 7.03%. The above data show

that experimental results are in close agreement with

theoretical values. The triplen harmonics are present in

Figs. 8 and 9 due to the fact that the synthesized wave

form is a single-phase one.

184

© 2009 ACADEMY PUBLISHER

RESEARCH PAPER

International Journal of Recent Trends in Engineering, Vol 1, No. 3, May 2009

1999.

[5] R. Lund, M.D. Manjrekar, P. Steimer, T.A. Lipo, “Control

strategies for a hybrid seven-level inverter”, in Proceedings

of the European Power Electronic Conference , Lausanne,

Switzerland, September 1990.

[6] John N. Chiasson, Leon M. Tolbert, Keith J. McKenzie,

Zhong Du, “Control of a Multilevel Converter Using

Resultant Theory”, IEEE Transaction on Control Systems

Technology, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 345-353, May 2003.

[7] John N. Chiasson, Leon M. Tolbert, Keith J. McKenzie,

Zhong Du, “A new approach to solving the harmonic

Figure 8. Phase voltage and harmonic spectrum for the solution set elimination equations for a multilevel converter”, in Proc.

having smallest THD at m = 0.5480.

IEEE Industry Applications Soc. Annu. Meeting, Salt Lake

City, UT, pp. 640-645, Oct.12-16, 2003.

[8] Burak Ozpineci, Leon M. Tolbert, John N. Chiasson,

“Harmonic Optimization of Multilevel Converters Using

Genetic Algorithms”, IEEE Power Electronics Letters, vol.

3, no. 3, pp.92-95, September 2005.

[9] Said Barkati,Lotfi Baghli, El Madjid Berkouk, Mohamed-

Seghir Boucherit, “Harmonic elimination in diode-clamped

multilevel inverter using evolutionary algorithm”, Electric

Power System Research 78(2008), pp.1736-1746.

[10] C. Woodford and C. Phillips, “Numerical Methods with

Worked Examples”, CHAPMAN & HALL, pp. 45-57,

First edition 1997.

[11] Elijah Polak, “Optimization Algorithms and Consistent

Figure 9. Phase voltage and harmonic spectrum for the solution set

having highest THD at m = 0.5480. Approximations”, Springer-Verlag, New York, Inc., 1997.

[12] MATLAB Version 7.2.0.232 (R2006a).

VII. CONCLUSION

The selective harmonic elimination method at

fundamental frequency switching scheme has been

implemented using the optimization technique that

produces all possible solution sets when they exist. In

comparison with other suggested methods, the proposed

technique has many advantages such as: it can produce all

possible solution sets for any numbers of multilevel

inverter without much computational burden, speed of

convergence is fast, it can produce continuous solutions

for the complete range of modulation index thereby

giving more flexibility in control action etc. The proposed

technique was successfully implemented for computing

the switching angles for 11-level CMLI. A complete

analysis for 11-level inverter has been presented and it is

shown that a significant amount of THD reduction can be

attained if all possible solution sets are computed.

REFERENCES

[1] Jih-Sheng Lai, Fang Zheng Peng, “Multilevel Converters-

A New Breed of Power Converters”, IEEE Trans. on

Industry Applications, vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 509-517,

May/June 1996.

[2] Fang Zheng Peng, Jih-Sheng Lai, et al, “A Multilevel

Voltage-Source Inverter with Separate DC Sources for

Static Var Generation”, IEEE Trans. on Industry

Applications, vol. 32, no. 5, pp. 1130-1138,

September/October 1996.

[3] F. Z. Peng, J. W. McKeever, and D. J. Adams, “Cascade

Multilevel Inverters for Utility Applications”, IECON

Proceedings (Industrial Electronics Conference), vol. 2, pp.

437-442, 1997.

[4] L. M. Tolbert, F. Z. Peng, and T.G. Habetler, “Multilevel

converters for large electric drives”, IEEE Transactions on

185

© 2009 ACADEMY PUBLISHER

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