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A Greener Tomorrow: TI Digital Signal Controller Helps Australia's Monash University Team Win Future Energy Challenge

Highly Efficient Design Paves Way for Distributed Generation Systems Based on Renewable Energy Sources

Sep 12, 2005

HOUSTON (September 12, 2005) – A team of undergraduate students from Monash University, Victoria, Australia has recently won a $10,000 first-place prize in the 2005 IEEE International Future Energy Challenge (FEC) for their highly efficient power converter solution based on one of Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) (NYSE: TXN) leading digital signal processors (DSP) – the TMS320F2810 digital signal controller. The FEC competition, held in Skokie, Illinois, is intended to foster innovative designs of a flexible electrical utility inverter for use in small, distributed generation systems that can ultimately be used in individual buildings and small communities, among other applications. As alternate energy sources such as wind and solar power gain acceptance, solutions such as those developed by Monash University that convert raw energy into usable electricity become increasingly important. For more information on the Monash University winning design see http://fec.eng.monash.edu.au/challenge/.

The solution developed by the Monash University team achieved a 90 percent conversion efficiency using a digitally controlled current–fed, push-pull direct current to direct current (DC/DC) converter system to produce a high voltage DC bus from a low voltage DC source, and an H-bridge converter output stage to connect from this DC bus to the alternating current (AC) grid. Both converter stages switch at high frequencies to minimize size and weight and to improve efficiency. Dual F2810 controllers supervise the system, co-operating via a serial communications port to eliminate the need for isolated analog measurement circuitry. This structure also allows sophisticated control strategies to be implemented in software that actively manage energy flow through the converter, to achieve further reduction in size and weight of many passive components.

Students Tap Into Classroom Knowledge and Leading Solutions

“The Future Energy Challenge competition gave the Monash team the chance to leverage the TI controller’s inherent high integration level, performance and ease-of-use to create a truly innovative, “green” power-saving solution,” said Grahame Holmes, Associate Professor at Monash University and departmental adviser to the team. “Winning the top prize by applying theoretical classroom knowledge to this important, real-world application has given the team members an exciting opportunity to participate in the growing field of digital power systems.”

By designing with TI digital signal controllers and recently announced Fusion Digital Power™ line of UCD9K, UCD8K and UCD7K power solutions (see www.ti.com/digitalpower), power supply or inverter designs can tap into a powerful, programmable software platform that not only controls power supply, but offers enhanced features such as intelligent fault management, digital current sharing and active-in rush control. This enhanced capability speeds time to market and reduces overall costs by lowering the part count and improving power supply products’ production yields. Better production, in turn, yields better inventory logistics and easier production flow. With power supplies enabled by TI's digital power solutions, end users will see increases in the efficiency and reliability of their end applications and will also enjoy smaller footprints through component integration and the ability to upgrade applications based on next-generation digital power architectures.

The Monash University team competed with 14 additional international universities in the competition sponsored by the IEEE Power Electronics Society. The winning team consisted of ten undergraduate students from the electrical engineering, computer science, and mathematics disciplines: Chris Beckett, John Luo, Praveen Atmuri, Matthew Bull, David Ng , Nirooshan Sachchithananthan, Pascal Su, Damian Ware, Przemyslaw Wrzos and Wang Yui Kong. Associate Professor Grahame Holmes from the Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering department at Monash mentored the team. Monash University is one of the leading universities in TI’s world wide university program, which consists of more than 1,000 institutions that utilize TI devices in their research and education programs, for more information on the program, see www.ti.com/university.

Digital Signal Controllers from TI

Combining the real-time performance of TI's leading DSP with the peripheral integration, C-language efficiency and ease of use of a microcontroller (MCU), TMS320C2000™ controllers integrate up to 265 Kilobytes (KB) of flash memory for simple reprogramming during development and in-field software updates. Optimized control peripherals include PWM generators, programmable general-purpose timers, capture modules for time stamping and glueless quadrature encoder interfaces. The C2000™ platform also features up to 12-bit analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) that provide fast conversions – up to 12.5 MSPS – for tight control loops. Up to five different on-chip standard communication ports, including CAN, provide simple communication interfaces to hosts, test equipment, displays and other components or networks. For more information on C2000 controllers, see www.ti.com/c2000.

TI Enables Innovation with Broad Range of Controllers

From ultra low power MSP430 and 32-bit general purpose TMS470 ARM7-based MCUs to high performance TMS320C2000 DSP-based digital signal controllers, TI offers designers the broadest range of embedded control solutions. Designers can also accelerate their design to market by tapping into TI’s complete software and hardware tools, extensive third party offerings and technical support. For more information on the broad range of TI’s controllers, see www.ti.com/mcu.