Rohm supplies SiC power modules to Formula E racing team

Rohm supplies SiC power modules to Formula E racing team

Market news |
By Rich Pell

The inverter for season four features embedded full SiC Power module, making it 43% smaller and 6 kg lighter than the inverter for season two. Rohm became Venturi’s technology partner last season and provides the SiC power devices used in the inverter, which is the core of the electric vehicle powertrain.

The key to victory in this racing series for the drivers is to use power as efficiently as possible by getting the maximum performance out of the stored energy. The advancement in Formula E technology is expected to filter through to developments in general-use electric vehicles. Although this motorsports event is still in its infancy, it already enjoys the participation of automotive manufacturers from around the world and major car makers including those from Japan have also declared their intention to take part in Formula E.

“The Formula E is the only motorsports event for testing the latest technology in next-generation electric vehicles,” said Franck Baldet, CTO of the Venturi Formula E Team. “By adopting a full SiC power module, we were able to bring to reality a lightweight inverter that requires only a minimum amount of space. By using the latest technology, I expect that we will be able to dramatically reduce our lap times.”

“This is currently a field in which we would like to give our special attention and semiconductor devices are certain to play a crucial role in recent hybrid and electric automobiles,” said Kazuhide Ino, Group General Manager of Power Device Production at Rohm. “We provided SiC-SBDs in season 3 last year (2016–2017), but this year we provide full SiC power modules that combine SiC SBD and SiC MOSFET. These modules will contribute to improve vehicle performance. I hope that we can continue to contribute to society through the efficient conversion of energy in a wide range of industries and fields, starting with electric vehicles.”

Compared with conventional IGBT modules with similar current ratings, this module reduces switching losses by 75% (at a chip temperature of 150°C). This contributes to the energy efficiency for the whole application. Also, the high frequency drive facilitates the use of smaller peripheral components.

This, as well as the effect of reductions in switching losses contributes to a more compact cooling system. By using this full SiC power module in the inverter section (the powertrain core), the inverter is 43% smaller and 6kg lighter than the version used in season two. Even compared to the previous inverter used in season three, it is 30% smaller and 4kg lighter. 

Season four of the Formula E will open in December 2017 in Hong Kong, and races are planned to be held in Marrakesh, Santiago, Mexico City, São Paulo, Rome, Paris, Berlin, Zurich, New York and Montreal, for a total of eleven venues.

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