In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in the use of scooters, cars and other electric vehicles in the urban landscape, particularly to facilitate everyday travel. A few kilometres from city centers, a similar electrification trend is also under way in the industrial sector as seen in the use of robots in assembly and logistics, for example.
What do these new uses have in common? Power electronics, that is, electronics used to convert energy. This type of function changes the form of electrical energy and thus the operation of the electric motors present in these different vehicles and machines.
Next stop, the design center of the Electronics activity of LACROIX, which relies on its expertise in power electronics to develop the electric transport market.
Today, electric transportation products require more and more range and power. As a result, the development of this type of transport leads to an increase in the number of electric motors and consequently in electronics.
There are more than a hundred electric motors in a car, ranging from a few watts of power for comfort features (e.g. seat adjustment, mirror adjustment, retractable door handles) and volume management to several hundred kilowatts for the propulsion of hybrid and electric vehicles.
By placing its expertise in the technologies of the future, the design center brings together all the essential elements for carrying out its customers’ electric transportation projects.
The Electronics activity of LACROIX has been able to make the shift to electric transport by making its design center an aggregator of technologies and skills for the future.
At the same time, we have continued to acquire equipment and tools, such as motor test benches and calculation software like Matlab.
The more powerful the motor, the more important it is to manage heat transfer. In a traction motor with several thousand watts (as is the case in an off-road vehicle and an automated robot, for example), the rotation causes energy losses and an increase in heat both in the motor and in the power electronics which control it. It is therefore vital for our engineers to carry out thermal simulations to ensure that the heat level is under control.
“Brushless” motors, which represent the latest technology, have several qualities: they are less energy-intensive, less noisy and more reliable. As they are more complex, these motors, to be controlled, call for development of algorithms based on matrix calculations (such as the Park transform) and integrated into microcontrollers. To do this, our design center has skills in modelling and calculation of control laws for complex motors.
Motor control functions require both an understanding of the components to be controlled (mechanical and dynamic). They are implemented in electronic cards (hardware) implementing complex algorithms (software). Mechatronics, the fusion of mechanical and electronic technologies, is therefore involved throughout projects related to electric motors.
Between now and 2025, the power electronics market will experience strong growth, driven in particular by new uses of electric transportation, the deployment of recharging networks for electric vehicles and the growing use of renewable energies (solar, wind and hydraulic).
There is also a strong synergy between these sectors both in terms of the new, more eco-conscious behaviour of users and manufacturers, and in terms of control of electronic functions requiring increasingly high power management.