GaN-based reference design supports e-bikes, robot and drone development

The EPC9194 GaN-based inverter reference “significantly enhances” motor drive system efficiency, range and torque, while more than doubling power per weight for size and weight sensitive applications motor applications.

Available from EPC, the EPC9194 is a three-phase brushless DC (BLDC) motor drive inverter reference design. The inverter’s extremely compact size allows seamless integration into the motor housing resulting in the lowest electromagnetic interference (EMI) highest density and lowest weight, said the company.

The BLDC motor drive inverter reference design operates from an input supply voltage range of 14V to 60V and delivers up to 60Apk (40A RMS) output current. This voltage range and power level makes it suitable for three-phase BLDC motor drives in DC servo motors as well as emerging applications, such as e-bikes and e-scooters, robots and drones.

The EPC9194 demonstration board features six EPC2302 100V eGaN FETs in a 3.0 x 5.0mm QFN package.  The board measures just 130 x 100mm (including the connector). 

The EPC2302 eGaN FET offers a small RDS(on) of just 1.8 mOhm, combined with very small QG, QGD, and QOSS parameters for reduced conduction and switching losses. The package is a thermally enhanced QFN with exposed top for enhanced heat dissipation to the heatsink and wettable flanks for easy inspections.

The estimated total power loss with six EPC2302s at 20A RMS and with 100kHz PWM frequency is half that of a Si MOSFET solution with the same RDS(on) operating at 16kHz PWM frequency, said EPC. The 100kHz PWM frequency enables a quasi-pure sinusoidal current, reducing vibration and distortion in the motor and resulting in about seven per cent higher motor system efficiency. Additionally, 100kHz PWM frequency allows for the reduction of the input filter and the elimination or reduction of electrolytic capacitors.

The EPC9194 incorporates all the critical circuit functions required to support a complete motor drive inverter, including gate drivers, regulated auxiliary power rails for housekeeping supplies, voltage, and temperature sense, accurate current sense, and protection functions.

The board can deliver 20A RMS steady state without a heatsink and a temperature rise of 60 degrees C, via a 48V input and 100kHz PWM frequency. It delivers in excess of 30A RMS with a heatsink.

The EPC9194 is compatible with controllers from different manufacturers which allows for quick development and reduced design cycle times. EPC offers control interface boards (EPC9147X) to operate the EPC9194 inverter reference design with common BLDC motors. 

The EPC9194KIT includes the EPC9194 evaluation board and a controller board that allows to easy interface the board with a microcontroller design kit. The EPC9147A controller board interfaces to popular Microchip microcontrollers, the EPC9147C controller board interfaces to popular ST microcontrollers, the EPC9147B controller board is suitable for popular TI microcontrollers and the EPC9147E controller board is designed to interface to generic microcontrollers.

“GaN enables motor systems that are smaller, lighter, quieter, more powerful, and more precise while improving EMI, reducing the need for EMI filtering and capacitors, and eliminating electrolytic capacitors and input filter inductors,” said Alex Lidow, CEO of EPC. 

“Designers can use EPC GaN FETs to make lighter-weight and more efficient battery-operated motor drives for a wide variety of e-mobility and robotic applications”, he added. 

The EPC9194 reference design board for immediate delivery from distributor, Digi-Key.

Designers interested in replacing silicon (Si) MOSFETs with a GaN solution can use the EPC GaN Power Bench’s cross-reference tool to find a suggested replacement based on their unique operating conditions.

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