Power Electronics

Data Points

Fuel Cell Market to Reach $2.6 Billion

Global commercial demand for fuel cell products and services will increase by almost a factor of seven by 2009, according to a recent study by market research firm The Freedonia Group. At that time, fuel cell revenues including prototyping and test-marketing activities are projected to reach $2.6 billion. By 2014, those same revenues are expected to reach $13.6 billion as several viable markets for fuel cells are projected to develop during this time period, while advances and economies of scale help drive costs down to competitive levels. Meanwhile, world fuel cell spending (including R&D funding and investment in fuel cell enterprises, in addition to commercial sales) is projected to more than double to $10.8 billion in 2009.

These and other trends are presented in “World Fuel Cells,” a 390-page report published in May by The Freedonia Group. Among the data presented in this study are breakdowns of fuel cell demand by application (Table 1) and by chemistry (Table 2). In addition, the study provides market data by region and country, and examines topics such as fuel cell cost and pricing dynamics, environmental and regulatory issues, and various industry and market factors. In addition, the report includes profiles of fuel cell companies.

In terms of fuel cell markets, the study found that electric power generation is emerging as the first large-scale commercial application for fuel cells and will account for more than half of the global product and service demand through 2014. However, portable electronics applications are projected to register the strongest gains over the next 10 years, rising from what are now extremely low levels of demand to become the second-largest fuel cell market. Fuel cell-powered industrial stationary and motive power equipment will achieve some commercial success as well.

Motor vehicle-related fuel cell demand is potentially huge but has not yet lived up to its potential, constrained by technical and infrastructure-related issues, as well as by high cost barriers. Nevertheless, the use of fuel cell vehicles in government and commercial fleets will provide some impetus to market growth through 2014 as automakers continue to invest in demonstration and test-marketing programs. Proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells, which currently account for well over half of world commercial demand, will maintain their dominant position through 2009 and beyond.

With a few exceptions such as China, future demand for fuel cell products and services will be concentrated in geographic areas — United States, Canada, parts of Western Europe and Japan — where precommercialization activity has been concentrated. Applications that are best suited for fuel cells tend to be highly evolved in economically advanced countries because costs are likely to remain high for at least the initial generations of commercially viable systems. Fuel cells also are expected to find some use as a source of electricity in developing countries with inadequate central power grids. Copies of the report cost $5200. For more information, see www.freedoniagroup.com.

MOSFET Chip Set Pushes Bus Converters to 97% Efficiency

A new DirectFET chipset from International Rectifier (IR) can be combined with the company's full-bridge bus converter IC to design a bus converter capable of delivering 336 W with 97% efficiency in a footprint 29% smaller than a standard quarter-brick. The IRF6646 and IRF6635 MOSFETs are optimized for 48-V regulated and 36-V to 60-V input bridge topologies in isolated dc-dc bus converters. They also are well suited to synchronous buck, nonisolated dc-dc topologies; 18-V to 36-V input forward and push-pull converters for mobile communication equipment; and secondary-side synchronous rectification in regulated output isolated dc-dc converter applications.

A typical 300-W quarter-brick bus converter contains as many as 10 MOSFETs (four in the primary side and six in the secondary side), a pulse width-modulated (PWM) control IC and two half-bridge driver ICs. IR's chip set solution consists of six MOSFETs (four in the primary and two in the secondary side) and a single IC, yielding a 46% reduction in power semiconductor part count. In addition, isolated bus converter dc-dc applications made with this chip set achieve 29% reduced board space and operate with as much as 1.5% better efficiency.

An 80-V MOSFET, the IRF6646 has a maximum on-state resistance of just 9.5 mΩ and is tailored for primary-side bridge topologies. The IRF6635, a 30-V MOSFET, has a maximum on-state resistance of 1.8 mΩ and is optimized for secondary-side synchronous rectification. Typical gate-charge specifications include a QG of 36 nC for the IRF6646 and 47 nC for the IRF6635. Meanwhile, these same devices feature QGD values of 12 nC and 17 nC, respectively.

This MOSFET pair combines with the recently introduced IR2086S full-bridge dc bus converter IC and the existing IRF6608 30-V DirectFET MOSFET, used as a secondary-side gate clamp.

“IR's new IRF6646 and IRF6635 achieve higher efficiency and operate at about 40°C lower case temperature when compared to SO-8 devices,” said Carl Blake, director of the technical marketing, computing and communications group.

The IRF6646 and IRF6635 DirectFET MOSFET synchronous buck chip set is available immediately. Pricing is $1.37 each for the IRF6646 and $1.50 each for the IRF6635, both in 10,000-unit quantities. The 80-V and 30-V DirectFET MOSFETs are supported by myPOWER, IR's online design center, located at www.irf.com/design-center/.

200-mA LDOs for 3G Wireless Handsets

A series of 200-mA low-dropout linear regulators (LDOs) from Texas Instruments shrinks the LDO's size to one-fifth that of the SOT-23 package. The TPS799xx LDOs are offered in a 1.5-mm × 1-mm chip-scale package, making them well suited to the space-restricted yet noise-sensitive confines of 3G handsets, WLAN cards and other portable products.

The LDOs produce 29.6 µVRMS of output noise and achieve a PSRR of 66 dB at 1 kHz. These devices also offer a fast start-up time of 45 µs, fast transient response and a typical current draw of just 40 µA. Stable with a 2.2-µF ceramic capacitor, the LDOs can yield dropout voltages as low as 100 mV at 200 mA over the entire range of input voltages. Overall accuracy is 2% over load, line and temperature variations.

All TPS799xx devices are priced at $0.35 each in quantities of 1000 units. For more information, see www.ti.com/sc05131.

PolyPhase Controller Operates to 140°C

Linear Technology's LTC3731H PolyPhase step-down synchronous controller guarantees operation and precision for junction temperatures as high as 140°C. Housed in a narrow 36-lead SSOP, this dc-dc controller has integrated MOSFET drivers and is expandable from 3- to 12-phase operation for 60-A to 240-A power supply designs. The accuracy of the reference voltage is guaranteed to be within ±2% over the chip's operating temperature range (-40°C to 140°C). In addition, ±5% output current matching simplifies thermal management by evenly spreading the heat among the output stages.

Operating in the buck mode, the LTC3731H steps down a 4.5-V to 32-V input to a 0.6-V to 6-V output. When configured as a 3-phase boost converter, the LTC3731H delivers high output currents with low output ripple. The LTC3731H incorporates the company's power-saving Stage Shedding technique to optimize efficiency and improve battery life at light loads. The IC operates with a switching frequency of 250 kHz to 600 kHz per phase. Pricing starts at $5 each in lots of 1000. For more details, see www.linear.com.

Table 1. World commercial fuel cell demand by application (in U.S. millions of dollars). Courtesy of The Freedonia Group.
Item 1999 2004 2009 2014
Total world demand 165 375 2580 13550
Electric power generation 118 220 1540 7000
Motor vehicles 23 68 140 520
Nonvehicular transport equipment 20 45 125 460
Portable electronics 2 24 440 3510
Industrial stationary/motive power 2 18 285 1680
Other neg. 50 380


Table 2. World commercial fuel cell demand by chemistry (in U.S. millions of dollars). Courtesy of The Freedonia Group.
Item 1999 2004 2009 2014
Total world demand 165 375 2580 13550
Proton-exchange membrane 88 220 1370 6400
Solid-oxide 13 50 425 2570
Phosphoric acid 35 35 100 240
Molten carbonate 4 25 210 1400
Alkaline 20 15 70 200
Direct methanol and other 5 30 405 2740

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