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  • AutorenbildVinoth Ravi

Major barriers to the installation of inverters in the electric commercial vehicles


The global shift towards sustainable mobility solutions is bringing about a significant transition in the commercial transportation scene. At the cutting edge of this transformation are electric commercial vehicles, which are propelled by sophisticated inverter systems and provide a more economical and environmentally friendly substitute for conventional combustion-engine automobiles. Inverter systems are an essential component of the vehicle's electric propulsion system, bridging the gap between the high-voltage battery and the electric motors by precisely and efficiently converting direct current (DC) electricity into alternating current (AC) and vice-versa (for recuperation). However, there are obstacles to overcome to effectively incorporate inverter systems into electric commercial vehicles. These problems range from issues related to safety and the environment to power management and thermal regulation. To fully realize the promise of electric propulsion technology and promote the widespread use of electric commercial vehicles, engineers and manufacturers must overcome these challenging challenges. In this article a thorough look at the main challenges to installing an inverter system for electric commercial vehicles will be discussed. The obstacles such as power density and efficiency optimization, vibration, corrosion, etc. and their compatibility each bring their own set of complexities that require experience, teamwork, and unwavering innovation to overcome. The objective will be to shed light on the way forward, with electric commercial vehicles playing a pivotal role in promoting sustainable transportation ecosystems.

Installation

Placement and orientation of a power inverter mounting are two crucial aspects of installing them in electric vehicles. These two elements are necessary to prolonging the life of inverters, improving the safety, and environmental impacts such as vibration and corrosion. The orientation conformity of inverters improves their functionality, prevents risk of corrosion, and makes them more accessible for maintenance. Throughout every phase of the vehicle's lifecycle, the installation and positioning of the inverter is critical in terms of guaranteeing its best performance, safety, and dependability. When installing inverters, a wide range of factors, including electrical connections, temperature control, and safety procedures must be undeniably considered. 

Type of application

An Inverter can be applied for multiple purposes, including traction (and recuperation), brake chopper and Electric Power Take-Off (ePTO). While traction is usually the primary application of a power inverter, on the other side, a brake chopper is used to discharge excess braking energy to one or several resistors, where it is converted to heat to avoid hazard to the electric devices and the overall vehicle. An ePTO is used to operate auxiliary devices such as powering accessories or hydraulics of construction machinery or utility transportation like for e.g. garbage trucks without relying on a separate power supply.

Coolant Flow Dynamics

An effective coolant flow is an integral feature for controlling inverter temperatures, protecting electronic parts, and preserving peak performance. The complex inter-exchange between exterior cooling technologies and internal design issues, highlights the importance of careful system integration and is often quite an engineering challenge.

Corrosion

Corrosion poses quite a considerable challenge to inverter functionality, particularly in harsh environments where commercial vehicles navigate. The lifetime and performance of inverter systems are seriously threatened by corrosion, especially in electric commercial vehicles that are subjected to extreme weather conditions like humidity, salt spray, and road debris. An in-depth joint coordination with manufacturers specializing in electric vehicle infrastructure led to finding solutions for corrosion-resistant coatings, encapsulations, and housing materials that are specific to the needs of inverter systems. From experience it reveals a common issue: water ingress leading to corrosion in the inverter's underside is a major concern. By taking strategic consultative decisions in inverter installation positions, mitigation and the risk of corrosion has been significantly reduced, thereby safeguarding the inverter's reliability and longevity.

Electrical Considerations

To guarantee optimal performance, dependability, and safety, numerous electrical phenomena must be carefully considered throughout the design and implementation of inverter systems for electric commercial vehicles. EV grounding procedures are mandatory for safety and legal requirements. Secure connections between inverters and chassis can often be difficult to establish, therefore creative solutions are needed to keep prices down and dependability up. Further electrical concerns with a focus on electric vehicle (EV) systems integration are shield currents, common mode currents, and dU/dt (rate of change of voltage over time) has been a part of many case studies. Effective management of these phenomena is necessary to reduce the hazards of electrical faults, system instability, and electromagnetic interference (EMI). Expertise in the integrity, functionality, and safety of inverter systems by utilizing application knowledge of power electronics and electromagnetic compatibility, synergizes with advances the development of environmentally friendly transportation options.

High Voltage Interlock Systems

To prevent electrical risks and guarantee the safety of vehicle occupants, maintenance staff and bystanders, electric commercial vehicles must have High Voltage Interlock Loop (HVIL) devices installed. In short, a HVIL monitors the connections, in particular the high-voltage cables and, if necessary, the connection to the vehicle control unit. If a failure occurs here (e.g. severed line), this triggers a safety mechanism for rapid discharging of the inverter.

Disposal

Inverters like any other electronic component must meet the environmental requirements for material compatibility and recyclability (at the end of their service life) right from the development stage. These requirements are becoming ever stricter, so it makes sense to orientate oneself to the standards of environmental friendliness of the future at an early stage. For the European Union, in particular Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) and Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) come into play here and define the rules for material composition of an Inverter. RoHS, for example, provides for the abolition of all exemptions for lead by 2025 and may change the exemptions for other materials such as Mercury, Cadmium, etc.

Conclusion

Commercial vehicle inverter applications are subject to numerous challenges such as vibration, corrosion, electrical and safety considerations. Aspects such as maintainability and recyclability must also be considered.

A comprehensive strategy is needed to overcome these challenges with inverter deployment in commercial vehicles, incorporating proven measures, rigorous testing, and installation best practices acquired from experience.


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