Lead beneficiary: G2ELab
Traditional power electronics converters are highly heterogeneous and very difficult to repair and reuse as illustrated with the pictures below. None of them is similar to the other underlining the huge lack of standardization. For similar functionality provided, the different converters contain some high value materials and long lasting components. The magnetic devices, the coolers, as well as some parts of active and capacitive devices could be collected and reused if the given converter was designed and manufactured to ease repair or remanufacturing. Current converters are not designed to ease the constitutive components usage maximization.
WP2.1. action: Toward standardization
The objective of WP2 is to work on the functional and physical “organization” of PE converters in order to sketch perimeters of high value or long-life sub-systems, components or materials to ease their extraction as well as to ease repair and maintenance of low value and/or short-life sub-systems and components. This objective will lead to consider some notions of functional subsystems, and modular approach of standardization. The strong physical, functional and technological heterogeneity of PE converters as well as the strong coupling among the various components used in power electronics give any realization of such an objective a challenge. Some new constraints imposed by the systemic vision of circularity will have to be integrated as new parameters into the design of PE converters to ensure the basement of such evolution. The Figure 6 presents a Power Converter Array (PCA) prototype based on standardized conversion cells, an interleaved converter and a Modular Multicell Converter (MMC). These prototypes illustrate the technical feasibility of modular converters. They also show the heterogeneity of such modular converters in terms of material and components. In addition, they are still not designed to ease repair and reuse operations. Modularity may be possible and relevant even in a traditional point of view. There is still, however, a significant work toward standardization to address. Designing for reliability, long lasting, or reuse, would ensure second hand converters to enter the market.
WP2.2. action: Innovative designing method respectful to traditional goals.
The technical performances (efficiency/power density for instance) of such modular systems will be therefore evaluated. If the technical performances are among the standard PE engineer’s parameters, several “alternative” design objectives will be considered and confronted to the industry design and manufacturing constraints. The product design material and energy flow inventory will be therefore captured to assess the environmental impacts. To this purpose, the WP3 will help the integration of the causeconsequence effects in product design scenarios specifications concerning the environmental issues. Perhaps an environmental burden will be identified by this performance optimization, requiring another iteration (lab-industryintegration) process. Seeking for relevant indicators in PE converters will require forecasting or even “recording” devices and/or converters’ mission profiles over usage lifetime. An appropriate integration of sensors and “recorders” will be critical at this step. The Life Cycle material and energy flow Inventories (LCI = Life Cycle Inventories) of the designed devices from extraction of raw materials to end of life treatments will be quantified. The manufacturing and use stage will be contextualized by OSCARO Power and EATON feedbacks. The usage behavior characterized in several contexts will be crucial for the WP3 to deliver relevant environmental assessments to support “circular” systems implementation during the design process of such devices.
WP2.3. action: Entering Power Electronics toward circularity
Integrating the design constraints in terms of partial or full- automated disassembly will be then considered according to the WP4 work. The impact of physical proximity constraints, to ease robot access, as well and an appropriate interconnection for an efficient assembly and dis-assembly on converter characteristics will be investigated. All this work will support the Proof(s) Of Concept (POC) realizations. The POC will be benchmarked in WP5 with respect to the a), b), c), d) scenarios mentioned in first sections. The design systems requirements will be specified considering the environmental consequences. The specification are providing the LCI required to elaborate the attributional life cycle assessments per products or sub-systems envisaged in the different life cycle scenarios. Guidelines will be therefore formulated to design products that minimize the environmental impacts considering the standardization and life cycle scenarios. The project ambition however targets higher value environmental impact assessments to better support designers in designing PE products in future usage scenarios and contexts that are yet not operating. Preparing the work for conducting some consequential LCA is therefore also envisaged before the end of the project.
The expected deliverables for the WP2
An in depth analysis of power electronics standardization and modularity with respect to the standard objectives/specifications in the field, as well as the integration of the environmental issues objectives toward circular economy. Life cycle inventory capitalization per standard systems for a given functional specification will be provided. Design guidelines in order to select and/or design components, place and route, select manufacturing processes that are in favor of circularity, making efforts to ease repair, reuse and recycle will be provided. The LCI for consequential LCA will be elaborated to influence the decision makers during the value chains of the envisaged scenarios.