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6, JUNE 2014
High-Speed Electric Drive for Exhaust
Gas Energy Recovery Applications
Fabio Crescimbini, Member, IEEE, Alessandro Lidozzi, Member, IEEE,
Giovanni Lo Calzo, and Luca Solero, Member, IEEE
AbstractHigh-speed electric drives play an important role
in the eld of power generating units on board vehicles and
aircrafts. This paper deals with the solutions for developing the
direct coupled electric drive to be used in combination with a
radial turbo-expander for exhaust energy recovery in automotive
applications. The descriptions of prototypal realization of both the
axial-ux permanent-magnet (PM) generator and the three-level
boost-rectier converter, which results as the preferred topology
for the controlled rectier, are given. The high rotational speed
of the direct-driven PM generator results in high electric funda-
mental frequency also, which is challenging for the electric drive
control issues. Results of the electric drive prototype experimental
activity are nally presented.
Index TermsACDC power electronic converters, auto-
motive applications, axial-ux permanent-magnet (PM) (AFPM)
machines, direct coupling.
LECTRIC drives having very high rated speed are be-
ing proposed in the recent technical literature for use in
combination with microgas or air turbines to arrange power
generating units having rated power in the range from tens of
watts to a few kilowatts [1], as well as for drives required by
tooling machines and molecular pumps [2].
Considerable interest is recently raised for automotive appli-
cations, in which electric drives having rated speed in the range
of thousands of revolutions per minute are expected to play
an important role as power generating units required to meet
the increasing demand of electric energy on board the next-
generation vehicles [3]. This trend is driven by the increasing
number of electrically powered ancillary devices as well as
by the introduction of a wide range of new functionalities on
board vehicles. As a result of having an increasing number of
electrical components being used in automobiles for improving
the vehicles performance, comfort, convenience, and safety,
the rating power of electrical generating systems required on
board vehicles is rapidly growing, and the next-generation
Manuscript received February 18, 2013; revised May 20, 2013; accepted
June 9, 2013. Date of publication June 28, 2013; date of current version
December 20, 2013. This work was supported primarily by the PRIN 2008
Programof the Italian Ministry for Education, University and Research (MIUR)
under Award 20085BP47Z.
The authors are with the Department of Engineering, University of Roma
Tre, 00146 Rome, Italy (e-mail:;;;
Color versions of one or more of the gures in this paper are available online
Digital Object Identier 10.1109/TIE.2013.2271602
vehicles are expected to require electric power in the range from
4 to 6 kW to supply automobile loads such as air conditioners,
electric steering systems, electric brakes, and high-energy dis-
charge lamps.
The envisaged new scenario is actually forcing car manu-
facturers to explore newly conceived solutions concerning the
overall electrical system being utilized on board automobiles,
as the present generating system based on using a Lundell-
type alternator has become too inefcient whenever requested
to deal with higher power output. In fact, as a result of the
increased electrical power requested on board, the power loss in
a Lundell-type alternator is too high, and the 14-V voltage level
being used in todays cars results in increased currents and,
thereby, thicker wiring harnesses. As a consequence, the cost
of the overall electrical system increases while the performance
drops signicantly. Based on the aforementioned considera-
tions, electrical systems based on 42-V rating voltage are being
widely accepted as an incoming standard for automotive ap-
plications, and various 42-V power-net architectures have been
proposed since the last years. If a full 42-V architecture system
has to be implemented in automobiles, there are many vehicle
devices that would require a change of design and qualication
to accept a 42-V power supply. Hence, to start with, most car
makers are planning to incorporate dual voltage architectures
being suitable to supply both 42- and 14-V loads.
To date, automotive electrical systems likely draw the power
required to drive the alternator from the mechanical shaft of the
internal combustion engine (ICE), and thereby, the increased
electrical power demand inevitably results in increased fuel
consumption. However, from recognizing that the ICE exhaust
gases still retain a signicant amount of energy being usually
wasted, substantial fuel saving can be achieved by using a
radial turbo-expander which can provide recovery of the kinetic
energy available from the ICE exhaust gases to directly drive
an electrical generator as it is depicted in Fig. 1 [4][6]. Then,
the electrical generator output is rectied through a controlled
rectier in order to suitably supply the 42-V power-net archi-
tecture within the variable rotating speed region of the radial
The turbo-expander is a radial turbine where the energy
conversion relies on the component of the gas speed being
perpendicular to the rotation axis. Hence, in the volute of
the radial turbine, the exhaust-gas pressure is being converted
into kinetic energy to move the turbine wheel, thus making
mechanical power available onto the alternator shaft. As much
as in the generating system being the subject matter of this
0278-0046 2013 IEEE
Fig. 1. Schematic layout of generating unit for exhaust energy recovery.
paper, it is envisaged that automotive generating systems might
use turbo-expanders having rated power output of about 4 kW
at rated speed of 18 000 r/min.
In consideration of the huge improvements achieved in
permanent magnet (PM) materials in terms of both technical
characteristicssuch as high energy density and high opera-
tional temperatureand manufacturing costs, PMmachines are
being widely recognized to be eligible for use in 42-V auto-
motive systems. Within the broad category of PM machines,
several distinct machine arrangements can be identied, and
these include the axial-ux PM (AFPM) machine topology
which, in the last years, has drawn substantial interest concern-
ing various applications [7][9]. Hence, for turbo-expander-
driven alternators being used in the 42-V generating system
depicted in Fig. 1, the AFPM machine arrangement would be
likely selected from the recognition of unique features such as
high compactness and improved efciency.
Direct-drive arrangement should be considered in order to
take advantage of avoiding the use of a gearbox along the
transmission path, which greatly affects the systems costs,
reliability, and efciency at the aforementioned high rotational
speeds. However, the removal of the gearbox and the need for
high compactness require that the electrical generator and the
power electronic interface are both designed for operation with
ac electrical quantities having high fundamental frequency.
This paper deals with various congurations suitable for
automotive generating systems devoted to recovering energy
from exhausts. In particular, three alternative topologies for the
controlled rectier are investigated concerning the harmonic
content of the generator output current which may be responsi-
ble for undesired effects such as noise and vibration on both me-
chanical coupling and turbo-expander blades. Concerning the
development of a concept prototype of the generating system
depicted in Fig. 1, this paper describes the technical solutions
adopted for the AFPM generator and for the controlled rectier.
As the high fundamental-frequency output of the direct-driven
AFPM generator is challenging for the electric drive control is-
sues, therefore suitable arrangement is discussed for the control
architecture to be used in the generator-rectier system. Results
taken from experiments carried out on a concept prototype of
the generating system are nally presented.
Fig. 2. Idealized representation of the PM generatorcontrolled rectier
generating unit. (a) Per-phase equivalent circuit. (b) Vector diagram.
The proposed high-speed electric generating unit is intended
to operate within a 900018 000-r/min speed range with both
rated power of 4 kW and overall efciency of 90% at a
18 000-r/min rating speed. The minimum provided power out-
put should be 500 W at 9000 r/min. At any rotational speed
within the operating range, the generating unit is expected to
supply a 42-V power-net architecture, with a maximum value
of 48 V. According to that, a controlled rectier with adjustable
voltage gain is required to step up the PM generator three-phase
output voltage against a 42-V rated voltage dc link [10]. In
consideration of both the relatively low value of the alternator
output voltage and the high fundamental frequency being con-
sidered in the envisaged application, it can be recognized that
the synchronous inductance (i.e., L
) of the PM generator plays
a key role as discussed in the following.
The sinusoidal shaping for the PM generator phase current is
considered for the discussed application. Boost-rectier topolo-
gies with either a switching rectier or diode rectier followed
by a dcdc converter allow the effective regulation of the input
current; as a consequence, this paper is focused on low-voltage
machine solutions followed by boost-rectier topologies.
Assuming that the controlled rectier is arranged by means
of the three-phase pulsewidth-modulated (PWM) two-level
voltage source inverter being operated in the regenerative mode
(referred to as 2L-BR in the following) and that such a three-
phase boost rectier behaves as an ideal sine wave converter to
dc (i.e., the fundamental frequency ac power input is fully con-
verted to dc power in the output), the fundamental frequency ac
quantities in the alternator-rectier system can be represented
by means of the per-phase equivalent circuit shown in Fig. 2(a)
and the vector diagram shown in Fig. 2(b).
In such an equivalent circuit, the PM generator is also
represented with an idealized form (i.e., any power loss mech-
anism in the alternator is neglected), and the dc-link voltage
is taken into account by means of an ac voltage source
that providesthrough an adjustable ratio autotransformer thus
used for representing the effects of the inverter modulation
index m
a phase rms voltage U
at the alternator terminals.
Hence, at any given output fundamental frequency and phase
Fig. 3. Power generating unit with two-level boost-rectier topology.
electromotive force (EMF) rms value (i.e., E
) set by the PM
generator operation, the alternator phase rms current (i.e., I
is suitably adjusted by regulating both the voltage U
and the
load angle , and as usual, the maximum torque per ampere
condition is accomplished by having the vector of the phase
current aligned with the vector of the phase EMF.
Based on the schematic representation depicted in Fig. 2, it is
easily found that the component of the alternator output current
being responsible for the transfer of electrical power to the dc
link can be written as
= I
cos =

where P
is the mechanical power that the turbo-expander
delivers at the generator shaft. On the other hand, the alternator
current I
that the controlled rectier is required to deal with
is determined also by the current component I
in Fig. 2, which is in quadrature with the voltage U
thereby is related to the exchange of reactive power between the
alternator and the controlled rectier. Simple math work yields
= I
sin =

2 m
. (2)
Hence, the rms value of the fundamental-frequency current
that has to circulate in the power switches and diodes of the
controlled rectier can be written as
= I

1 +

3 E

. (3)
From (3), it clearly appears that, for any operating condition
set by the alternator input torque and speed and for a given
voltage of the dc link, the lower is the alternator synchronous
inductance, the lower will be the rms value of the fundamental
frequency current that circulates in the power switches and
diodes of the controlled rectier. Thereby, designing the PM
generator with low value of the per-unit synchronous induc-
tance is benecial for the controlled rectier in terms of reduced
kilovoltampere rating and power loss. However, a low value
of the synchronous inductance negatively affects the waveform
of the alternator phase current as, for a given value of the
switching frequency used in the controlled rectier, the lower
is the alternator synchronous inductance, the higher is the total
harmonic distortion (THD) of the alternator current waveform.
As a consequence, the rms value of the PM generator output
current increases, and this may offset the advantages envisaged
from the use of a low-inductance alternator. In other words,
the use of an electrical generator having low synchronous
inductance reduces the fundamental frequency component of
the alternator output current while increasing the harmonic
content in the same current.
In order to retain the advantages resulting from a reduced
value of the fundamental frequency component of the alternator
output current, the power circuit arrangement used for the
controlled rectier should be appropriated. Thereby, it is useful
making a comparison among the various power electronic con-
verter topologies that could be used as power conversion inter-
face between a turbo-expander-driven PM generator and a 42-V
rated voltage dc link. To this goal, the envisaged electric drive
has been suitably modeled in order to investigate, through com-
puter simulations, three alternative topologies for the controlled
rectier, namely, the conventional 2L-BR shown in Fig. 3,
the dcdc boost converter in cascade with the diode rectier
(BOOST-DR), as depicted in Fig. 4, and the three-level neutral-
point-clamped (NPC) boost rectier (3L-BR) shown in Fig. 5.
Even though the Vienna topology is a well-known solution for
Fig. 4. Power generating unit with dcdc boost converter in cascade with diode rectier topology.
Fig. 5. Power generating unit with three-level boost-rectier topology.
rectication, the NPC conguration has been considered in this
paper as three-level reference topology because of its widely
recognized standard rule for many applications in generating
units. Several manufacturers have developed packaging mod-
ules for the NPC multilevel phase leg, with the perspective of
future modules based on semiconductor devices technologies
also different than insulated gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs)
for many applications in the eld of automotive and distributed
power generation. The comparison between the NPC cong-
uration and Vienna rectier has been deeply discussed in the
literature [11] with the conclusion of substantial equivalence in
total power losses. However, the different distribution of power
losses among the semiconductor devices can make the NPC
multilevel converter preferable, even if it shows a more com-
plicated topology, when MOSFET devices are used because of
their lower conduction losses with respect to both diodes and
The comparison among the three alternative topologies for
the controlled rectier is carried out by considering 30 kHz
as switching frequency, with this value being still congruent
with the use of switching devices having 150-A rated current
for low-voltage applications. For simulation purposes, a total
amount of 2.7 mF is supposed as dc-link capacitance in order to
assure the dc-link voltage ripple within 0.25% of the rated value
for the conventional 2L-BR topology. A three-phase AFPM
machine having a 4-kW rated power at a 18 000-r/min rated
speed is considered with design characteristics such as the
17-Vrms value of the phase EMF at a nominal output frequency
of 1200 Hz and a 4-H synchronous inductance. As usual in
generating unit applications, a two-loop control architecture is
envisaged by considering an outer voltage loopwhich is in
charge for regulating the dc-link voltage and, thereby, the 42-V
battery charging/discharging operationand an inner current
loop devoted to controlling the three-phase output currents of
the PM generator.
The 2L-BR with sinusoidal PWM is the state-of-the-art
solution in most electric drive systems. However, it is not
naturally the best choice as it leads to quite high value of
the phase current ripple and the power switches are operated
in discontinuous conduction mode for a large fraction of the
sinusoidal current period, with consequent increasing of both
the rms value for the phase current and the switching stress
of semiconductor devices. As a result, supplementary power
loss in both the electrical generator and the controlled rectier
should be expected, unless a much higher switching frequency
is utilized, thereby accepting higher power loss in the controlled
rectier due to switching.
Despite the simple control structure, the BOOST-DR re-
quires the additional boost inductor L
to limit the current
ripple. For the simulation purposes, a value of 12 H has been
considered for the boost inductor in order to reduce the peak-
to-peak current ripple within 1520 A. As an additional disad-
vantage compared to the other two topologies being considered,
the BOOST-DR does not allow vector control of the alternator
phase current, so the maximum torque per ampere cannot be
exploited. The use of a diode rectier causes signicant dis-
tortion of the generator current waveforms with respect to the
sinusoidal shape, and as a consequence, the generator torque
contains a pulsating component having relatively high ampli-
tude. This is a remarkable disadvantage as the presence of such
a pulsating torque can signicantly inuence the durability
and reliability of the turbo-expander/generator unit. Further-
more, the conduction power loss in the BOOST-DR is mainly
related to the rectier diodes, which show worse conduction
performance with respect to low-voltage power switches as
The 3L-BR shows a more complex hardware and control
structure, mainly due to both the number of switches and the
third harmonic injection for the balancing of the dc-link capac-
itor middle point. However, the implementation of the control
algorithm is still congruent with conventional industrial-grade
digital signal processors (DSPs); moreover, future trends of the
power electronics market could limit higher costs related to
semiconductor devices and driving circuits. On the other hand,
the use of a multilevel conguration for the controlled rectier
leads to effectively reducing the current ripple to an acceptable
value, thereby allowing low values for the THD, which is an
essential requirement for the desired high efciency and to
lower both mechanical vibrations and acoustic noise.
The benets resulting from the use of the 3L-BR topology
in the proposed generating unit should be recognized from the
simulation results shown in Figs. 6 and 7, which refer to the
rated torque and speed condition for the generating unit and
report waveforms of, respectively, the line-to-line voltage and
the alternator phase current for each of the three controlled rec-
tier topologies being under comparison. It clearly appears at a
glance that the 3L-BR is capable to provide reduced distortion
of the current waveform even in the case of the low-inductance
alternator. As a result, 3L-BR topology assures continuous
conduction mode of operation for a signicant part of the
main frequency period even at reduced generated current (i.e.,
at reduced rotational speed), whereas 2L-BR would require
either higher switching frequency (i.e., 60 kHz) or higher PM
generator synchronous inductance to limit the discontinuous
conduction mode for the same operating conditions. Both the
solutions would increase power losses, switching losses in the
rst case, and conduction losses in both the PM generator and
the power electronic converter in the second case.
Results achieved from simulations in terms of peak-to-peak
current ripple (I
), current THD up to the 100th harmonic,
and most signicant harmonic amplitudes are listed in Table I
to conrm the expected superior performance of the 3L-BR
The dependence of power factor PF and phase current total
rms I
values on current THD can be written as
PF =

1 + THD
cos (4)

1 + THD
. (5)
On the basis of the values in Table I, the PF reductions of 1%
and 2% are found respectively for 2L-BR and BOOST-DR with
respect to 3L-BR. At the same time, the I
increase leads
to the PM generator stator winding loss increases of 0.35%,
1.36%, and 3.72% for the 3L-BR, 2L-BR, and BOOST-DR
controlled rectier topologies, respectively.
Fig. 6. Simulation results at rated speed of 18 000 r/min: Line-to-line voltage (10 V/div, 200 s/div). (a) 2L-BR. (b) BOOST-DR. (c) 3L-BR.
The comparison of the theoretical power losses for the
three investigated controlled rectier topologies has also been
accomplished. To this purpose, the top characteristics among
a number of devices (i.e., MOSFETs, ultrafast diodes, and
Schottky rectier diodes) from two of the most important man-
ufacturers (i.e., International Rectier and IXYS) have been
selected. Data sheets of power devices in the voltage ranges
of 4075 and 80130 V are considered respectively for 3L-BR
Fig. 7. Simulation results at rated speed of 18 000 r/min: Phase current (50 A/div, 200 s/div). (a) 2L-BR. (b) BOOST-DR. (c) 3L-BR.
and for 2L-BR and BOOST-DR. Results of the theoretical com-
parison show the slight superior performance for the 3L-BR
conguration, as a consequence of the switching loss reduc-
tion and the lower on-resistance for 50-V class MOSFETs.
The achieved results are resumed in the diagramof Fig. 8 for the
maximum and the minimum rotational speed expected for the
PM generator. The maximum speed of 18 000 r/min is related
to either the modulation index m
of 0.95 or boost duty cycle
of 0.232 as well as to the rated phase current; the minimum
speed of 9000 r/min is instead related to either the modulation
index of 0.5 or boost duty cycle of 0.6 as well as to 1/4 of the
rated phase current.
Fig. 8. Power loss theoretical calculation: Switch conduction losses P
antiparallel diode conduction losses P
, switching losses P
antiparallel diode recovery losses P
, clamp diode conduction losses
, rectier diode conduction losses P
, clamp diode recovery
losses P
, boost inductor losses P
, and dc-link capacitor losses P
In the envisaged application for the alternator, the maximum
radial dimension is somewhat constrained by the mechanical
coupling with the turbo-expander. For the generating unit being
considered in this paper, the design specications have set-
dimensional constraints for the alternator in terms of overall
outer diameter lower than 200 mm and overall axial length
not exceeding 120 mm. The PM machine should have been
designed to have a rated power of 4 kW at a rated speed of
18 000 r/min and with efciency expected close to 95%.
As early anticipated, the AFPMmachine having the so-called
Torus structure [7], [8] seems to be the most appropriate for
meeting the design specication by recognizing that, in such
a PM machine conguration, high compactness is achieved as
a result of a wider air-gap surface area being made available
for the electromagnetic interactions and improved efciency re-
sults from a winding arrangement having substantially reduced
length of the end windings with respect to the conventional
radial ux machine. Typically, in AFPM machines, for a given
value of the stator outer diameter, the axial length and the
weight of the machine active parts reduce with the increase of
the machine number of poles. However, for a given rated speed,
the increase of the number of poles leads to an increase of the
alternator output frequency, which has a signicant impact on
the overall performance of both the electrical generator and
the controlled rectier. Concerning the envisaged application,
an AFPM machine having eight poles and a nominal output
frequency of 1200 Hz is deemed appropriate for limiting both
the machine axial length and the weight, provided that a suitable
material is selected for the machine stator core in order to assure
reduced power loss at reasonable costs and an appropriate solu-
tion is adopted for limiting both skin effect and eddy current in
the conductors of the machine winding.
As illustrated in the recent scientic literature [12], [13], in
high-speed PM machines, the use of a slotless stator provides
a number of advantages over the conventional arrangement of
the stator with slots, and in consideration of the relatively high
value of rated speed used, an AFPM generator with slotless
stator arrangement is selected for the intended application with
the turbo-expander. On the other hand, the Torus structure
of the AFPM machine allows easier manufacturing of slotless
winding with respect to the more conventional PM radial ma-
chine. Further than meeting the goal of having an alternator
with low synchronous inductance, the slotless arrangement of
the machine stator allows avoiding cogging torque and acous-
tic noise and eliminates the power loss that otherwise high-
frequency ux pulsations due to stator slots would produce in
the stator teeth and in the solid structure of the rotor disks.
In addition, as the core is made of conventional nonoriented
electrical steel, the slotless stator arrangement avoids punching,
and the core manufacturing process does not actually expose
the magnetic material to signicant mechanical stresses. A
design of a machine with a coreless stator [14] might be also
considered, but it should be discarded due to a much higher
mass of PM material usually required.
In high-speed applications of PM machines, a design issue
concerns the xing of the PMs onto the rotor mechanical
structure [15], [16] since the mounting of PMs onto the ro-
tor surface by simply using the gluing technique is no more
adequate whenever the rotational speed and the rotor outer
diameter impose signicant centrifugal forces. Thus, sleeves of
nonmagnetic high-strength alloys are often used to achieve a
structure that counteracts the centrifugal forces acting on the
magnets, but in machines having the radial ux arrangement,
this structure is inevitably exposed to the magnetic eld be-
ing in the machine air gap. Due to the harmonic content of
the air-gap eld, eddy currents can be induced in the sleeve,
and this generates signicant heating at the surface of the
PMs, resulting in further reduction in magnetic loading under
operation. Bandage made of carbon ber can even be used
for magnet containment, thus signicantly reducing the eddy-
current power loss issue but introducing further complexity in
the manufacturing process and increasing manufacturing costs.
Concerning the design issue described earlier, it is recog-
nized that the AFPM machine topology has inherent advan-
tages resulting from its own axial ux structure, because
any suitable mechanical arrangement devoted to counteract the
centrifugal forces acting on the magnets is not immersed in the
axially directed magnetic eld. Thus, in order to deal with
the centrifugal forces acting on the magnets glued onto the rotor
disk surface, a stainless annular sleeve can be mounted on each
rotor disk as earlier described in [6].
In consideration of the severe environment conditions that
are expected in the automotive applications, the machine
cooling is another critical aspect to deal with since a PM
machine with totally enclosed construction is required and the
operating temperature of the magnets signicantly inuences
the machine electromagnetic performance. Again, the AFPM
machine topology offers distinct benets since very effective
heat removal from the machine stator can be accomplished by
using the end windings placed at the outer diameter of the stator
core. To this goal, the stator active parts comprising the winding
and the iron-strip toroidal core are encapsulated by means of
an epoxy resin which also joins the stator active parts onto
an aluminum casing having suitable cooling ns. Based on the
use of an epoxy resin having much higher thermal conductivity
compared with conventional insulation resins, the described ar-
rangement provides a heat owpath with lowthermal resistance
for the removal of the heating produced by the various power
loss mechanisms in the machine stator. As a result of the high
value of rotational speed, further contribution to the machine
cooling should be expected from the rotor disks having surface-
mounted magnets which naturally act as fans in sustaining air
streams in the radial direction within the machine air gaps.
Based on the various technical solutions described earlier, an
AFPM machine having the electrical and geometrical design
characteristics listed in Table II has been built for the purpose
of testing a concept prototype of the generating unit.
The cross-sectional view of the prototype is depicted in
Fig. 9, whereas Fig. 10 shows a picture in which one side
closing shield of the PM generator has been removed to allow
a view inside the machine, with one of the rotor disks in the
foreground and with the terminals of the three phases of the
winding being visible in the upper left.
Since the winding is fully immersed in the air-gap eld
as a consequence of the slotless arrangement, the three-phase
winding is accomplished by means of litz-wire conductors each
formed of 420 wires having 0.2-mm diameter so that the eddy
currents in the winding can be reasonably neglected and the
power loss in the winding is due only to the Joule effect.
At rated torque operating condition, the Joule power loss in
the winding is estimated to be about 75 W with a working
temperature of 130

Disregarding the friction in the bearings, other signicant
power loss mechanisms are related to eddy currents and mag-
netic hysteresis in the stator iron core, as well as the windage
effect associated with the rotational speed of rotor disks and the
stray load power loss. In order to have an acceptable amount of
power loss in the iron core, a strip of soft magnetic steel having
a 0.2-mm thickness is used for the stator core. With a toroidal
core having a mass of about 0.62 kg, the power loss in the iron
toroidal core is expected to be about 90 W.
Windage power loss can be taken into account through rst
tentative theoretical expressions, and for the AFPM machine
prototype, having 116.8 m/s as the rotor maximum peripheral
speed, a rough estimation leads to about 30 W for each rotor.
Further to that, stray load losses should be expected in the
aluminum casing due to the leakage ux resulting from the
load current owing in the end winding [17], [18]. Such power
loss mechanisms cannot be negligible in the proposed AFPM
generator arrangement because of end windings being placed
quite close to the aluminum casing for cooling purposes. A the-
oretical calculation of such stray load losses is quite elaborated,
and a rough estimation usually relies on experiments.
For the design of the controlled rectier, the value of the
switching frequency should be selected with the purpose of lim-
iting subharmonics in the phase current waveform, and thereby,
it should be higher than 21 times the fundamental frequency
if the conventional asymmetrical PWM is used. However, in
electrical drives that operate with high fundamental frequency,
the switching frequency may be required to be higher than
usual, and this considerably affects the switching losses in the
semiconductor devices. Hence, a compromise value must be
selected depending on both the type of semiconductor devices
and the power converter arrangement that are utilized.
Following the considerations developed in Section II, a
prototype of the three-level NPC boost rectier has been ac-
complished as shown in Fig. 11. The purpose is to conduct
experimental tests devoted to verify that such a controlled
rectier arrangement is the most suitable for minimizing the
harmonic content of the current whenever operated with an
AFPM generator having a value of the synchronous inductance
on the order of few microhenries.
In the three-level NPC converters, the dc-link voltage V
be split into two equal voltage sources each having V
/2, and
this allows the use of semiconductor devices having lower volt-
age rating, such as MOSFETs. However, a key problem with
the selected converter topology is to control the neutral-point
voltage at one half of the dc-link voltage. In fact, under certain
operating conditions [19], a low-frequency voltage oscillation
appears in the neutral point. Therefore, a current is drawn from
the neutral point, causing one dc-link capacitor to be charged,
while the other is discharged. Several methods for balancing the
Fig. 9. Cross-sectional view of the AFPM generator prototype.
Fig. 10. AFPM generator prototype.
Fig. 11. Prototype of three-phase three-level NPC boost rectier.
neutral-point voltage have been proposed in the literature. To
solve such an issue in the prototype of 3L-BR shown in Fig. 11,
the error between the measured capacitor voltages is used as
a simple controller, which modies the neutral-point current
and produces a charge balancing on the capacitor through the
suitable injection of third harmonic currents.
The 3L-BR prototype has been realized based on the phase-
leg concept. Each phase leg is mounted on a power printed
circuit board (PCB), and it has been accomplished by means
of power modules which integrate in a single three-level phase-
leg package four OptiMOS 3 power MOS transistor chips
IPC218N06N3 as well as conventional CAL diode chips used
as both antiparallel diodes and clamp diodes. The combination
of electrolytic capacitors with lm capacitors is used in order to
assure enough capacitance to limit the dc-link voltage ripple
and, at the same time, to be consistent with the rms value
of current ripple that the dc-link equivalent capacitor would
be capable to deal with. Based on theoretical estimations of
the power loss in the devices of the 3L-BR power circuit, at
the rated operating condition, the controlled rectier efciency
is expected to be close to 96%, as a result of the 10-Wpower loss
in dc-link capacitors as well as the 25-W switching power loss
and 125-W conduction power loss in semiconductor devices.
Concerning the modulating strategy to be selected for the
prototype of 3L-BR, it can be found in the literature that,
particularly for power converters having the NPC topology, the
phase disposition allows achieving better THD and reduced
switching losses, in comparison with other types of multicarrier
PWM [20]. The proposed 3L-BR is controlled by a DSP
platform. The digital control platform has been designed for
general-purpose applications, and it includes the 32-b Texas
Instruments TMS320F28335 digital processor as well as the
necessary devices to access DSP utilities. An important feature
of this DSP is the enhanced pulsewidth modulator module that
can generate 12 PWM signals, which can be easily used to
control all the power switches of the three-phase 3L-BR. The
DSP has a 16-channel 12-b analog-to-digital converter module
that allows the acquisition of 16 measures. Eight of these chan-
nels are already equipped with second-order active Butterworth
lters, placed on to the PCB, while the other eight channels
are available on a connector and can be easily used through
a suitable expansion PCB. Furthermore, the control platform
includes two isolated controller area network (CAN) interfaces,
a resolver-to-digital converter which is used to acquire the
AFPM generator speed/position measurement and a digital-to-
analog converter.
Fig. 12. Simplied control block scheme for the generating unit.
The electric drive utilizes control loops that are digitally
implemented, and the synchronous frame control strategy is
accomplished in recognition of its capability to regulate ac cur-
rents with high bandwidth. Fig. 12 shows the selected control
architecture with the digital part and the power section of the
electric drive highlighted.
The voltage controller has been developed to avoid excessive
voltage at the 42-V dc-link battery terminals. It acts to reduce
the current injected into the storage system operating as a
variable saturation block. The controller is a proportional
integral-type regulator which is adaptively tuned, according to
the method discussed in [21], due to the nonlinear behavior of
the system. Since a fully digital control structure is selected,
an inevitable digital delay is detected in the control loop due
to signal sampling and computational efforts. In electric drive
applications where the ratio between the sampling frequency
and the output electrical frequency is quite low, such as either
high-power drive or high-speed drive, the effect of the dq-frame
rotation during the delay time causes both phase and magnitude
errors in the inverter output voltage [22].
The evaluation of the delay introduced by the digital imple-
mentation can be assumed equal to one sample period when the
calculated duty cycles are updated at the end of the switching
time, whereas the delay can be considered as half of the sample
time in the double-updated sampling mode where the new duty-
cycle values are loaded also in the middle of the switching
period. This feature is today available in industrial-grade DSP.
However, the complete control algorithm has to be evaluated
two times per switching period, increasing the computational
effort. In the proposed application, the sampling frequency is
set equal to the 3L-BR switching frequency of 30 kHz with
single update mode, and the total computational time is 21 s.
Phase lag due to the digital implementation can be evaluated
respectively at the minimum and the maximum operating speed
of the electric drive. At 9000 r/min, the machine electrical
frequency is equal to 600 Hz which yields a phase lag of 7.2

At the maximum value of operating speed, the electrical fre-
quency increases to 1200 Hz with a phase delay of 14.4

causes a torque reduction of nearly 3%. This delay introduces a
d-axis current component which is not detectable by the control
algorithm. Furthermore, the q-axis current increases in order to
have the same output power, and as a result, an increment of
the power loss in both the generator and the controlled rectier
is expected.
Fig. 13. Test rig.
Digital delay introduces also stability problems due to the re-
duction of the stability margins. In fact, the sample delay affects
directly the whole system phase margin, changing the system
dynamic behavior. The described effects can be compensated
basically leading the achieved electrical ux position by the
delay angle, which is related to the actual rotational speed
[23]. This simple and effective method provides acceptable
performances with acceptable additional computational cost.
In order to validate the technical solutions adopted for the
turbo-expander-driven generating unit, an experimental investi-
gation has been carried out through the test rig shown in Fig. 13.
Aside from than the AFPM generator and three-level NPC
converter having the design characteristics discussed earlier,
the experimental setup includes a test bench motor devoted to
emulate the prime-mover behavior of the turbo-expander. This
motor is a liquid-cooled four-pole PM synchronous machine
having a 20 000-r/min rated speed and a 40-N m rated torque.
The test rig is suitably instrumented with a torque meter, a
power analyzer, and digital scopes, as schematically depicted
in Fig. 14, to the goal of monitoring and recording various
mechanical and electrical quantities so that the overall perfor-
mance of the AFPM generator and the 3L-BR prototypes can
be evaluated.
The digital scope DL9140 is used for visualizing the wave-
forms of electrical quantities at the AFPMmachine winding ter-
minals, such as the phase current and line-to-line voltage. The
four-channel power analyzer measures the mechanical power,
the electrical power at the AFPM machine winding terminals,
Fig. 14. Laboratory experimental setup.
and the dc-link electrical power. As a result, the efciency value
for both the electrical generator and controlled rectier can be
evaluated at various operating conditions. The power analyzer
gives also data concerning the harmonic content of the phase
Since the AFPM generator is equipped with K-type thermo-
couples being placed within the machine winding, the DL708
scope recorder is used for recording experimental traces of
temperature which can provide useful information on the PM
machine thermal behavior. Finally, the test rig is equipped with
a control unit that, by means of the CAN bus communication
layer, sets the desired operating conditions for the generating
unit, detects failures in the devices under testing, and, through
proper negative temperature coefcient (NTC) sensors, super-
vises the operating temperature inside the power modules of the
controlled rectier.
Preliminary measurements have been nalized to evaluate
the characteristics of the AFPM generator such as the EMF
waveform and rms value, as well as the winding phase resis-
tance and synchronous inductance of the AFPM generator. As
shown in Fig. 15, the AFPM machine has very sinusoidal line-
to-line EMF with a harmonic content of 0.54% only for the
fth harmonic order. At a 9000-r/min rotational speed (i.e.,
600-Hz fundamental frequency), the peak of the line-to-line
EMF waveform has a value of 21.1 V which is consistent with
the rms value of 17.5 V expected for the phase EMF at rated
speed. For the winding phase resistance, a value of 2.8 m is
measured at an ambient temperature of about 25

C, whereas
the synchronous inductance results in a value of 4 H.
In order to provide grounds for the results discussed in
Section II, the experimental investigation has been particularly
addressed to verify the behavior of the 3L-BR when fed by the
low-inductance AFPM generator at rated current and operated
with a switching frequency of 30 kHz. Load conditions of
the generating unit have been accomplished through a suitable
arrangement of recongurable power resistors being connected
Fig. 15. AFPM generator line-to-line EMF at 9000 r/min.
at the dc link of 3L-BR. To the purpose of representing the
actual modes of operation of the 3L-BR, the capacitors of the
dc link have been rst energized to set the dc-link voltage close
to its rated value so that the controlled rectier operates with
the correct value of the modulation index.
The waveform of the line-to-line voltage at the input ter-
minals of the controlled rectier and the waveform of the
generator phase current waveforms are shown in Fig. 16, with
such waveforms being referred to the load condition of the
generating unit with a rated input torque of 2.2 N m.
Concerning the current waveform, a THD value of 3.80% is
found by considering harmonics up to the 19th order. This gives
a reason for the slightly different value if compared with respect
to simulation results. The values measured for the amplitude of
the most signicant harmonics of the phase current are listed
Fig. 16. Experimental traces of line-to-line voltage at 3L-BR input terminals
(top trace, voltage scale: 20 V/div) and phase current (bottom trace, current
scale: 50 A/div) resulting from load operation with a 2.2-N m torque.
Fig. 17. Experimental results: Zoom of phase current (10 A/div).
in Table III, and they are very close to the ones achieved from
simulation results. A zoom of the peak of the phase current is
shown in Fig. 17, and a peak-to-peak current ripple of 16 A is
found, which is consistent with the expected value.
As mentioned, the AFPM generator is equipped with ther-
mocouple sensors, which are positioned within the winding
corresponding to the inner radius (T
) and medium radius (T
of the stator core, respectively. In the operating conditions,
for test purposes, the thermal transient was recorded, and it is
shown in Fig. 18.
The MOSFET power modules are equipped with NTC sen-
sors, and the converter prototype is air cooled; it is equipped
with fans which are turned on as the NTC measured tempera-
ture reaches 80

C. During the experimental tests, the measured
steady-state overtemperatures are about 30

C and 25

C for
the AFPM generator and the 3L-BR prototype with ambient
temperature of 26

C, respectively. In consideration of the
Fig. 18. Experimental traces of AFPM generator thermal transient resulting
from load operation with 2.2-N m torque at 9000 r/min (temperature scale:

C/div, time scale: 200 s/div).
operation with ambient temperature up to 80

C being expected
for the turbo-expander generating unit and 70

C for the power
electronic converter in the actual automotive environment, the
overall thermal behavior demonstrates that safe operation can
be accomplished with temperature values within the limits for
both the generator and the power electronic converter active
parts. The efciency values of both the AFPM generator and
the 3L-BR are found to be slightly lower than the design values.
With reference to 42-V onboard generating systems for
automotive applications, this paper has described the techni-
cal solution used for a generating unit which uses a radial
turbo-expander to recover energy from exhaust gases through
the direct coupling with a PM generator. For the investi-
gated application, the AFPM machine topology and the three-
level boost-rectier conguration have been selected for the
high-speed electric drive. For the rated torque operation with
1200-Hz electric frequency, an eight-pole generator assembly
with litz-wire conductors for the stator winding and low-loss
thin nonoriented electrical steel for the stator core is proposed.
It is shown that the three-level boost-rectier conguration
is able to effectively limit the electric generator current ripple
to an acceptable value, even though the PM alternator has
a relatively low synchronous inductance. A low value of the
THD is achieved for the alternator output current waveform,
which, in fact, is an essential requirement for low mechanical
vibrations and acoustic noise, as well as for high efciency.
The proposed generating unit arrangement proves to be a viable
solution for improving the fuel saving on board road vehicles.
The authors would like to thank Lucchi Elettromeccanica Srl
and Semikron Srl for the technical support provided for the
electrical generator and power electronic devices, respectively.
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Fabio Crescimbini (M90) received the degree in
electrical engineering and the Ph.D. degree from the
University of Rome La Sapienza, Rome, Italy, in
1982 and 1987, respectively.
From 1989 to 1998, he was with the Depart-
ment of Electrical Engineering, University of Rome
La Sapienza, as the Director of the Electrical Ma-
chines and Drives Laboratory. In 1998, he joined the
newly established University of Roma Tre, where he
is currently a Full Professor of Power Electronics,
Electrical Machines and Drives in the Department of
Engineering. His research interests include newly conceived permanent-magnet
machines and power electronic converter topologies for emerging applications
such as electric and hybrid vehicles and electric energy systems for distributed
generation and storage.
Prof. Crescimbini served as a member of the Executive Board of the IEEE
Industry Applications Society (IAS) from 2001 to 2004. In 2000, he served as
Cochairman of the IEEE-IAS World Conference on Industrial Applications
of Electric Energy, and in 2010, he served as Cochairman of the 2010
International Conference on Electrical Machines. He was a recipient of the
IEEE-IAS Electric Machines Committee awards, including the Third Prize
Paper in 2000 and the First Prize Paper in 2004.
Alessandro Lidozzi (S06M08) received the Elec-
tronic Engineering degree and the Ph.D. degree from
the University of Roma Tre, Rome, Italy, in 2003 and
2007, respectively.
Since 2010, he has been a Researcher with the
Department of Engineering, University of Roma
Tre. His research interests are mainly focused on
multiconverter-based applications, dcdc power con-
verter modeling and control, control of permanent-
magnet motor drives, and control aspects for power
electronics in diesel-electric generating units.
Dr. Lidozzi was a recipient of a Student Award and a Travel Grant at the
International Symposium on Industrial Electronics in 2004. During 20052006,
he was a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Power Electronics Systems, Virginia
Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA, USA.
Giovanni Lo Calzo received the Electronic Engi-
neering degree from the University of Roma Tre,
Rome, Italy, in 2010, where he has been working
toward the Ph.D. degree in the Department of En-
gineering since 2012.
From 2010 to 2011, he was a Research Assistant
with the University of Roma Tre. His research inter-
ests are mainly focused on the control and modeling
of grid-tied and isolated inverters and on inverter
output lter topologies.
Luca Solero (M98) received the Electrical En-
gineering degree from the University of Rome
La Sapienza, Rome, Italy, in 1994.
Since 1996, he has been with the Department of
Engineering, University of Roma Tre, Rome, where
he currently is an Associate Professor in charge of
teaching courses in the elds of power electron-
ics and industrial electric applications. His current
research interests include power electronic appli-
cations to electric and hybrid vehicles as well to
distributed power and renewable energy generation
units. He has authored or coauthored more than 100 published technical papers.
Prof. Solero is a member of the IEEE Industrial Electronics, IEEE Industry
Applications, and IEEE Power Electronics Societies.