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Thermal Management of a Soft Starter: Transient Thermal Impedance Model and Performance Enhancements Using Phase Change Materials

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3 Author(s)
Fabien Volle ; School of Mechanical Engineering , Purdue University, West Lafayette, USA ; Suresh V. Garimella ; Mark A. Juds

Adverse effects of starting-torque transients and high in-rush currents in induction motors are typically mitigated by employing electronically controlled soft starting voltages through silicon-controlled rectifiers (SCRs). However, the heat dissipation in the soft starter must be carefully managed in the design of motor drives. The objective of this study is both to address the heat dissipation in the soft starter by implementing analytical solutions to the heat diffusion equations inside the soft starter, and to investigate the use of a phase change material (PCM) based heat sink for thermal management of the device. The analytical modeling approach is, however, general, and can be applied to the solution of a range of thermal problems in power electronics. The transient analytical thermal model, based on the thermal quadrupole approach, allows a determination of the transient performance of a soft starter by evaluating the thyristor junction temperature. Predictions from the model are first compared to results obtained using a coupled thermal and electrical model based on a resistance/capacitance network approach. Experimental results obtained with the soft starter connected to a low-voltage 200 hp induction machine are then used to validate the model. Additionally, the performance improvement resulting from the use of a hybrid heat sink (plate fin heat sink immersed in a PCM) is evaluated and compared to a conventional air-cooled heat sink without a PCM under identical conditions.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics  (Volume:25 ,  Issue: 6 )