The operating conditions within power systems can cover a wide gamut of voltages and currents. In particular, switch selection (such as MOSFETs, IGBTs, or bipolar transistors) is highly dependent on blocking voltage, and the techniques Lava Labs uses for developing low- and high-voltage systems are distinctly different. Likewise, silicon carbide diodes are helpful in high-voltage circuits but would not generally be appropriate in low-voltage circuits. High-voltage circuits tend to be more challenging and require a lot of experience to design reliably and evaluate safely. We have the bases covered and can help our clients with whatever flavor of power system they require.
At Lava Labs, we like to go beyond “just getting it to work” – we aim for perfection. For inverters and converters, this means achieving a very high efficiency with only a couple percentage points of loss. This requires attention to detail and of course cost tradeoffs as our clients prefer. We have a wealth of knowledge of inductor/transformer design, which includes choosing among a wide variety of core materials, accounting for skin and proximity effect losses, and optimizing winding efficiency with spreadsheets. Careful PCB layout and a proper copper weight choice can help increase efficiency and improve heat dissipation, particularly for compact designs. We also specialize in helping our clients achieve a very low standby power consumption, especially pertinent to battery-operated devices.
The most common types of motors used with drives are brushed DC, induction, brushless DC (using trapezoidal excitation), permanent magnet AC (using sinusoidal excitation), and switched reluctance. Various types of control can be implemented, including but not limited to PID with an optional feedforward element, field-oriented, state-space, and sensorless, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Lava Labs helps our clients simulate and evaluate their options appropriately, and once a topology has been decided upon, implement it into their product, and finally, tune/optimize the algorithm.
Lava Labs is specially equipped to assist our clients in the development of products such as energy harvesting systems, maximum powerpoint trackers for photovoltaics, utility-interactive/standalone inverters including microinverters and AC modules, battery balancing systems for EVs, charging infrastructure such as that for J1772/CCS/CHAdeMO connections, and similar products for other related applications. We are also intimately familiar with standards such as UL1703, UL8703, UL1741, and UL60950, and of course we have a thorough understanding of battery technology (see “Battery Interfacing” at the top of this page for more information).