In the home, in the office, in industry: switched-mode power supplies are omnipresent in our everyday lives. They convert alternating current from the house line into direct current, which smartphones, laptops and the like need just as much as charging stations for e-cars and entire logistics or data centers. So far, these have had to be replaced after typically nine years of continuous operation. The spin-off of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) Digital Power Systems (DPS) has now shown in tests power supplies with a service life of 50 years.
Today's switched-mode power supplies are light and compact, but also error-prone due to the electrolytic capacitors built into them. Film capacitors are significantly more durable. However, these require up to ten times more space - until now: "We have developed a digital control process that allows us to use film capacitors in a space-saving manner," says DPS Managing Director Michael Heidinger. This results in much less maintenance than with conventional power supplies: "The technology is a game changer for all areas where reliability is important," says Heidinger. "For example in data centers or logistics centers or flight safety lighting." Because service calls to replace defective power supplies cost many times the price of the device itself.
Joint tests with the Light Technology Institute of the KIT have proven a service life of the power packs of 50 years at an ambient temperature of 40 degrees. "This means that the service life of established power supplies is about five times longer," says Heidinger. No power supply has yet failed, so the tests will continue. "So there is still room for improvement."
The new digital control process, which allows the use of film capacitors with only a slightly increased space requirement, runs on a microprocessor built into the power supply. It detects disruptive environmental influences so that, for example, higher voltage fluctuations on the film capacitor can be compensated for. As a result, storage capacitors with a lower capacity are sufficient. This technology only became possible with the spread of very powerful microprocessors, explains Heidinger.
The power pack is already used for safety lighting - also known as beaconing - on obstacles for aircraft such as industrial chimneys, wind turbines or radio masts. Defective power supplies can usually only be replaced there, which is laborious and expensive with the help of industrial climbers.
Further information: www.digitalpowersystems.eu