Power Electronics, what is it?

Let’s clarify the main doubts related to power electronics, addressing topics such as: what is power electronics? How did it come about? What is it for? What is studied in power electronics? What are its applications? What are the types of converters and what are courses that study power electronics?

Definition of power electronics.

We simply defined power electronics as a science dedicated to the study and development of static electric power converters, such as frequency inverters, rectifiers, and DC-DC converters, aiming at maximum efficiency and quality in the processes of transformation of electric energy, that is, reducing the number of losses and interferences in energy conversion processes, in addition to technologies linked to clean energy sources in terms of environmental impacts, such as photovoltaics and wind power.

High-efficiency electronic board.

The emergence of power electronics.

The emergence of Power Electronics provided an alternative that brought advantages to energy processing, thanks to the low need for maintenance of semiconductor switches and along with low energy loss in the switching. Power electronics emerged around 1920 and for a few decades, there was little evolution because the technology of switching devices available at the time was expensive, very bulky, and unreliable. With the invention of the thyristor, the great technological growth of Power Electronics began. During this growth phase, the theoretical bases of Power Electronics were launched, with numerous research and development works. Since then, the field of applications of Power Electronics has been growing more and more.

What power electronics is for.

The main purpose of power electronics is to process and control the flow of electrical energy, using semiconductor devices (diodes and transistors) operating as switches (on / off), to control the flow of electrical energy and convert waveforms of voltages and currents between sources and loads. The main semiconductor switches are: diodes, bipolar transistors, SCR’s, Triacs, GTOs, MOSFETs, and IGBT’s.

Static converters.

Static converters are electronic devices that convert energy without using mobile components, defined as a system consisting of passive elements (resistors, capacitors and inductors) and active elements (switches).

There are several types of converters, such as: the chopper that transforms fixed voltage DC to variable voltage DC, there is the AC voltage controller, which turns fixed voltage AC into a variable frequency and variable voltage AC, in addition to the converter cycles, which transform fixed frequency AC into AC of variable frequency and voltage.

There are rectifiers, which transform alternating current into direct current and inverters, which transform direct current into alternating current.

Applications for power electronics.

There are a multitude of applications for power electronics, such as switching sources, control of direct and alternating current motors, emergency power, battery chargers, power transmission, electronic ballasts, active filters, static compensators, alternative energy processing, power amplifiers, temperature controls, lighting, aircraft power systems, AC motor drives, housewares, robotics, drive systems for electric and hybrid vehicles, fast charging DC stations and many other applications.

Much of the power electronics is used in the industrial area, such as power transmission over long distances in direct current, electrical drives, electrical traction, uninterrupted energy sources, and can be used in the building area as well as building automation, such as temperature, lighting, security systems, as well as photovoltaic energy production.

Courses that have power electronics in their curriculum

Power electronics is a complex and interdisciplinary science, so it is not studied in just one subject, it can be seen in circuits, solid-state physics, simulation and computing, electrical machines, power systems, electromagnetism, analog and digital electronics, signal processing, control systems and theory

In general, the courses that have in their electronic power curriculum are the areas of engineering, such as electrical engineering, electronic engineering, mechatronics engineering, in addition to technical courses in electronics, electro-electronics, mechatronics and some courses in electrotechnics.