This past Monday at the Applied Power Electronics Conference and Exposition (APEC) in Austin, Texas, the EPA and the California Energy Commission (CEC) jointly announced the winners of Efficiency Challenge 2004, an international design competition for energy-efficient power supplies. Winners in the market-ready category included Power Integrations and AcBel Polytech, which received two awards each. In the open category, prize winners included the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the University of Illinois, Dartmouth College, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Texas A&M, Lite-On Technology, and BIAS Power Technology.
In the two award categories, power supplies were judged on different criteria. The market-ready category weighed practical factors such as power supply cost and packaging, along with energy efficiency. On the other hand, power supplies entered in the open category were evaluated without any cost or packaging constraints. This latter category was intended to showcase the most efficient power supply designs from both industry and academia.
A glance at the winners list reveals that a few entrants dominated in their respective categories. In the market-ready category, Power Integrations, an IC vendor specializing in the development of offline switching power supply ICs, received the Grand Champion award and Best in Class A1 award for its design of a cordless phone power adapter based on the company’s LinkSwitch chip.
Chris Calwell, research and policy director for Ecos Consulting and one of the judges of the EPA Efficiency Challenge, commented on the significance of Power Integrations’ achievement. “Average efficiency levels for conventional products in this category [adapters for cordless phones] usually range between 30% and 55%,” said Calwell. “For the Power Integrations team to achieve an average efficiency of 69% is quite remarkable. If all U.S. phones had a power supply as efficient as this model, the nation could save 1.5 billion kWh per year.”
The other award winner in the market-ready category, AcBel Polytech, received the Best in Class A award for a desktop computer power supply design as well as the Best in Class D2 award for a laptop computer power supply design.
Meanwhile in the open category, Hong Kong Polytechnic University was a multiple award winner, receiving the Grand Champion top prize and the Best in Class A2 award for the design of a standalone battery charger. Their winning entrant delivered 2.5 W or 6.25 V at 0.4 A, while achieving an average active power efficiency of 74% and a no-load power consumption of just 0.16 W. This design was implemented using ON Semiconductor’s NCP1215A variable off-time power supply controller. The university also collected a Best in Class B2 award for a cordless phone power adapter.
Others in the open group won Best in Class awards for power supply designs aimed at a cordless vacuum, standalone AA battery charger (University of Illinois); an office phone, computer peripheral (Dartmouth College); an LCD monitor (National Taiwan University of Science and Technology); and a laptop computer, all-in-one small form factor desktop (Texas A&M and Lite-On Technology). In addition, BIAS Power received an Honorable Mention for a substitute for a car-type charger.
The efficiency challenge contest represented a unique collaboration of industry and government. The Power Sources Manufacturers Association endorsed the contest and several companies provided support. ON Semiconductor gave technical assistance and sample parts to university entrants, including four of the winners in the open category. As added incentive, the company also awarded a total of $8500 in prizes for winning submissions.
Another vendor, Yokogawa served as the official metering sponsor, providing its 6-channel digital power meter for testing entrants. In addition, Intel, Sony and Pace Micro served as industry champions for the competition, providing suggested form factors, loading guidelines and other market-related design constraints for several power supply categories.
To learn more about the design competition, see www.efficientpowersupplies.org/competition.html.