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Power & Energy

72 posts
(Image credit: Pexels)   Coal ranks number one on the dirty scale when it comes to burning fossil fuels for power generation. When coal burns, it releases carbon dioxide and methane, known emissions that contribute significantly to global warming. It also creates sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), mercury along with particulate matter or soot, all of which have a negative impact on both the environment and humans. As a result, more plants have shifted to natural gas and renewable ...
Renewable energy development in the California desert. (Image credit: Bureau of Land Management via Flickr)   California is on track to reach 50% of their renewable energy goal ten years ahead of schedule, according to the California Public Utilities Commission RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standard) report, released back in November. The state’s primary utilities have already met (or are about to exceed) their renewable energy target of 33% by 2020 and is on track to hit their 2030 goal ...
Xilinx FPGAs provide a tremendous amount of design flexibility. Because they are so versatile, defining your power requirements isn’t as straightforward as simply reading an input voltage and load current requirement. You have core rails, auxiliary rails, bank rails and more that provide power to different portions of the chip. Some of these voltages are fixed and some are adjustable to unlock better performance or allow you to set I/O voltage levels compatible with other devices you want ...
Controller vs converter vs module Integration is the driving force behind many of the technologies we see from semiconductor manufacturers. Power devices are no different, whether it be integration of compensation, switching components, multiple outputs or inductors.   For this conversation we are going to define controller as, well, a switching controller. A converter would be a controller with integrated switches (we’ll focus on synchronous converters with both high and low side FE ...
Gallium nitride device can handle high voltages and make power conversion more efficient. (Image credit: MIT)   Most people know that electrical efficiency affects nearly everything that uses power- smartphones/mobile devices, electric vehicles and even the grid. Power converters play a significant role in the electrical equation, but they are incredibly inefficient and will never output more than the power it takes in. They are responsible for modifying voltages or convert between DC and ...
Introduction Sometimes in order to learn something, it is good to build and experiment and measure. That’s not always possible due to practicality concerns. This was the case recently, for a review of a piece of equipment that can work with a three phase mains electricity connection. The trouble is, I do not have a three-phase supply in my home, and I do not have easy access to such a thing at work either (and neither do most people unfortunately). Furthermore, I would not trust myself wit ...
3D printed gears and spring toggle a switch made of conductive plastic, which changes the state of a 3D printed antenna to convey data to a Wi-Fi receiver. (Image credit: University of Washington)   Researchers from the University of Washington have advanced civilization a few more years into the future by developing the first 3D printed plastic objects that are capable of collecting useful data and communicate that data to connected devices wirelessly without any electronics or batteries. ...
New research from Samsung show that lithium-ion batteries can be both fast charging and have high capacities when coated with graphene. No, this isn’t your carpet under a microscope. It’s what graphene looks like. (Photo from Samsung)   Even though lithium-ion batteries have a lot of capabilities, they’re pretty limited. Normally, they can only provide either fast charging speeds or high capacities, rarely both. Samsung researchers working with Seoul National University a ...
Hurricane Maria aftermath. The storm damaged the island’s already deteriorated electrical infrastructure. (Image credit Puerto Rico National Guard via Flickr)   Electricity is something most of us take for granted until it suddenly is shut off, and then it’s like our lives come to a screeching halt- no TV, no Wi-Fi, and no way to recharge mobile devices. While a power outage may leave us in the dark for a few hours or perhaps a few days, it’s nothing compared to what peop ...
I want to share a project about building a battery backup supply for small electronics. With this backup supply, you can never run out of power. There are a lot of electronics that need to be reliably on all the time. Alarm clocks are a good example of this. If the power goes out in the middle of the night and your alarm doesn’t go off, you could miss a very important appointment. The simplest solution to this problem is a battery backup system. That way, if the grid power drops below a ...
Telemetry in power systems has been around for quite a while, however it usually just showed up in high power environments like server farms. Power system telemetry is the communication between your system processing and the power supply devices. This communication can be used to control and / or monitor details about your power system. PMBus, Power Management Bus is an open standard for digital communication between power devices. The standard was created and is maintained by the System Managem ...
Are you having trouble choosing a power topology for your next project? I’ve recently written a blog covering how to choose a power topology for power hungry devices.  The various types of topologies are presented and examined in relation to a smart lock or heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) damper control system. As an example, I choose a specific part and walk through the design process of an actual system that was built and tested.    Go here to read my bl ...
At some point in the product chain, almost all electronics require conversion from an AC source to a DC one. Whether your product ships with an external adapter, battery charger, or if you design your own offline (AC/DC) converter, that originating source power most likely comes from AC mains.   In many cases, it makes the most sense for engineers to buy off the shelf AC/DC converter solutions. There are many good options from manufacturers like Artesyn, Lambda, Bel Power and SL Power. The ...
Tesla Powerpack 2 system is scalable from 200 kWh to 100+ MWh. (Image credit Tesla)   Last September, Australians living in the southern half of the country got to experience what it’s like to live on the sun. To add insult to injury, they were also hit with a massive storm that knocked out power to 1.7-million homes. As a result, government officials began looking for ways to incorporate renewable energy sources and storage into the grid that could provide a security blanket in case ...
Logitech is launching two new wireless technologies that complicate the debate of wired vs. wireless mouses due to its reported impeccable performance. The Logitech G wireless mouse and charging pad which is available as a hard or cloth pad. (Photo via Logitech)   Are you adding wireless charging to all your designs? Maybe you should.   Recently, wireless charging has become an increasingly popular idea in providing unrestricted access to electronic devices, such as AirVolt’s w ...