Engineering 101

Precise control for critical testing

In response to growing demand for more precise power dissipation, load bank manufacturer Power Prove has launched a dedicated IGBT-based electronic power control chopper, for continuous regulation of its load bank product offering. The power control chopper can be easily integrated into load banks to achieve high power dissipation and a degree of precision superior to that offered by any competitor.

Power Prove, which is the load bank division of power resistor manufacturer Cressall Resistors, commissioned the design of the power control chopper to Italian Internet of Things (IoT) solution developer Techmakers. The combination of Power Prove’s in-depth knowledge of load banks and Techmakers’ expertise in electronic and software-controlled devices has resulted in a powerful, yet cost-effective, solution that meets the growing demands of the market.

A power control chopper is an electrically controlled solid state switch that is used to control the amount of current permitted to flow through a circuit. Normally, a high-power variable load requires multiple fixed value load sections ranging in values for power dissipation with contactors and a logic controller. However, by integrating the power control chopper into the system, a near-infinite set of values for power dissipation can be achieved using just a single resistor.

Power Prove’s chopper also has a closed-loop regulation circuit, which is capable of adapting to fluctuations in voltage and cold resistance variation without any input. Multiple units can be combined to reach high-power dissipation, enabling the load bank to withstand even the greatest of power values with high precision.

Anywhere that requires constant power, whether that’s a healthcare facility, manufacturing plant, or IT data center, simply cannot afford a complete loss of power. These layers of infrastructure are often secured by an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that provides power for critical operations if supply from the grid fails.

“The challenge for the managers these systems, which are often deployed as sources of back-up power in a black-out situation is how to determine whether the system is operational and will not fail on the relatively infrequent occasions when their use is required at a critical moment. Regular testing of emergency systems using load banks is therefore essential,” explained Andrew Keith, division director of Power Prove.

“Since these systems provide such a critical safety mechanism, a high level of precision is vital,” continued Keith. “The new power control chopper allows us to provide our load bank customers with a customizable load bank that can be easily integrated into an existing system to provide infinite levels of power adjustment at a degree of precision that is simply not available elsewhere on the market.”

An example of the power control chopper’s application is with battery discharge testing. The chopper can be used with a current feedback loop to provide a genuine constant current load on battery systems up to 1000 V DC. Multiple chopper units can be fitted inside the same load bank, or a combination of traditional fixed loads and chopper modules can be used to create a load bank with the current discharge capacity to suit its application.

In addition, the increasing adoption of electrical vehicles powered by batteries and fuel cells is generating a wide range of operating scenarios that need to be simulated. The development of the power electronic control module allows Power Prove to produce load banks that simulate a much more diverse range of operating conditions for research and development (R&D) testing, system commissioning tests and regular planned maintenance load testing.

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