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In symmetric multilevel inverters, there is a tradeoff between the output quality and the reliability and efficiency of the converter. New asymmetric and hybrid solutions, using different voltages and devices in various parts of the inverter, promise significant improvements for medium-voltage industrial drives. This paper investigates such a hybrid asymmetric nine-level inverter. It consists of a three-phase three-level integrated gate-commutated thyristor inverter (main inverter), with a two-level insulated-gate bipolar transistor H-bridge (subinverter) in series with each phase. To keep the power part simple and the efficiency high, the subinverters have no feeding from the net and can only supply reactive power. This is a very interesting solution in terms of power quality, efficiency, reliability, and cost. But the nonsupplied intermediate-circuit capacitors form an unstable system. This paper proposes a control method to stabilize their voltages. Power balancing is guaranteed by varying the common-mode voltage, using an online nonlinear model-predictive controller. The controller predicts the system evolution as a function of the control inputs. A cost function of system and control quantities is iteratively minimized in real time, to find the optimal control to apply to the system. Simulations and measurements demonstrate stable behavior in steady state and during transients. Precharging of the nonsupplied capacitors is also an issue to consider. This paper proposes a startup method that charges them in parallel with the supplied ones, without any additional equipment. Measurements show its successful application in the proposed drive system.
Date of Publication: March-April 2005