Power Electronics

Data Points

Robust Investments Boost Low-Power AC Drives Market

Strong growth continued in 2007 for the low-power ac drives market due to robust investments in manufacturing and infrastructure industries worldwide, according to a recent study by ARC Advisory Group. The Dedham, Mass.-based research and advisory firm predicts that the worldwide market for low-power ac drives will grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 8.9% over the next five years. The market was more than $7 billion in 2007 and is forecasted to be nearly $11 billion in 2012, according to ARC's study on “Low Power AC Drive Worldwide Outlook, Market Analysis & Forecast Through 2012.”

Emerging economies, such as those in Brazil, Russia, India, China and Eastern Europe, are expected to help propel this growth. “Increasing consumer demand from the growing middle class in emerging economies, new infrastructures, a friendly financial environment for capital investments, and a need for producing and saving energy were primary factors for huge market growth,” says Himanshu Shah, a senior analyst and principal author of the study.

ARC has found that despite a softening U.S. economy, automation suppliers continued to post strong revenue growth in the fourth quarter of 2007, propelled by robust Greenfield plant construction in developing regions and strong project activity in the oil and gas sector. Furthermore, says ARC, while the North American market may face some economic challenges in the quarters ahead, demand for automation products will remain strong, thanks to much-needed modernization of the industrial infrastructure that is well under way. Demand-side conditions in the automation marketplace remained strong, with continued heavy investment in China, India, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. ARC cites that the oil and gas industry remains the leading growth industry for automation.

Per the market research firm, globalization has created huge demand for modern infrastructure, especially in emerging economies. Globalization is also driving the use of advanced automation worldwide. Consequently, ARC has found that ac drives are increasingly used across all industrial segments. Energy scarcity, in comparison to supply, is also affecting automation in a wide range of industries.

While every world region will experience growth in the low-power ac drives market over the forecast period, there are significantly different factors affecting this market growth across world areas. The report contains a brief description regarding the economic scenarios for each major world area. In addition to the quantitative assessment of this market, the report provides an insightful analysis of the market and strategies of leading suppliers that will impact this business in the future. For more information, see www.arcweb.com.

Vendor Makes AAAA Alkaline Batteries Easier to Find

Energizer is expanding the availability of its AAAA alkaline battery, which was first introduced by the company in 1989. The small cylindrical cell is now available through popular retail outlets including Walgreens, Wal-Mart and Best Buy stores. At the same time, the company is making the AAAA battery available overseas in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

Because of its small size, the AAAA or “Quad A” can be used in applications such as Bluetooth headsets, flash audio players, laser pointers and LED penlights, remote controls and home medical devices like glucose meters. The cell measures 42.5 mm in length × 8.3 mm in diameter and weighs 6.5 g. Compared with the more common AAA, the Quad A is 43% lighter, 40% smaller in volume and 20% thinner.

Like the AAA, the Quad A cell is a 1.5-V battery. However, at 625 mAh, the AAAA has only half the capacity of a AAA cell. For more information, see www.energizer.com.

Document Eases Battery Qualification and Deployment for Telecom

In response to the safety-related challenges presented by lithium batteries, Telcordia and other industry participants have created a vendor-neutral, concise generic requirements document that addresses the use of telecom-grade, rechargeable, non-aqueous, large-format lithium batteries.

The document — GR-3150, Issue 1, “Generic Requirements for Secondary Non-Aqueous Lithium Batteries” — is intended to simplify lithium-battery qualification and deployment, and to reduce failures attributed to explosion or self-ignition. GR-3150 provides general product, safety and performance criteria required to operate lithium batteries in telecommunications facilities. It also presents commentaries that address the complexities of assessing lithium-battery service life. Additionally, the document simplifies deployment, provides product safety, features, functions and performance evaluation, and offers concise technical details on this technology.

Meanwhile, for battery end users, the document simplifies product introduction and qualification by providing a framework to evaluate lithium batteries in logical stages. And for battery suppliers and installers, GR-3150 eases deployment complexity and provides a compliance framework.

Visit http://telecom-info.telcordia.com for more information. Telcordia is a provider of open, flexible and configurable software and services for IP, wireline, mobility and cable networks.

Workshop Will Explore Power Converters on Silicon

The first International Workshop on Power Supply on Chip (PwrSoC) will be held Sept. 22-24 in Cork, Ireland. The workshop, which is being organized by Ireland's Tyndall National Institute, will bring together key members of industry and academia that are involved with the development of the emerging PwrSoC technology.

This event will be an informal forum for the presentation and discussion of trends, results, opportunities and challenges in the efforts to miniaturize dc-dc converters to the point where the required passive components can be integrated on silicon (PwrSoC). The workshop also will include a discussion of an alternative miniaturized product format called power supply in package (PSiP). Both approaches involve significant increases in switching frequencies into the multi-megahertz range — a change that has implications for all aspects of power-converter design.

Topics to be discussed include system architectures, control systems, converter topologies, power trains, integrated capacitors and integrated magnetics. Other areas to be addressed are packaging/functional integration, magnetic and capacitor materials, the comparison of PSiP versus PwrSoC approaches and market opportunities. Sponsors of the workshop are Enterprise Ireland, Power Electronics Interest Group of Ireland, MIDAS Ireland, European Centre for Power Electronics (ECPE), IEEE Power Electronics Society, Darnell Group, Anagenesis, and the Power Sources Manufacturers Association. For more information, see www.powersoc.org.

Chipmaker Publishes Metrics for Efficient Product Branding

Industry leaders, representing key segments of the electronics supply chain, came together at an IPC workshop in Brussels on June 18, 2008, to address industry concerns with the Öko-Institut report on the proposed expansion of RoHS substance restrictions. IPC describes itself as “the association connecting electronics industries.”

Öko-Institut was contracted by the European Union Commission to study the inclusion of additional hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment under the RoHS directive. In its draft report to the commission, Öko-Institut recommended the restriction of Tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), the flame retardant used to protect more than 80% of pc boards and found to be safe by a comprehensive European Union risk assessment. Hexabromocylcododecanes (HBCDDs), several phthalate plasticizers and all organic compounds containing chlorine and bromine are included in the report as suggested bans.

“IPC is concerned that Öko-Institut's recommendations are arbitrary and lack a sound scientific basis,” explained Fern Abrams, IPC's director of government relations and environmental policy. Implemented, these recommendations will have a significant negative impact on our members.” Abrams noted that IPC held the meeting in Brussels to make sure that all technical issues were considered by the commission when they drafted the RoHS revisions.

Attendees at the meeting included members of the European Commission and the RoHS Technical Advisory Committee from Brussels and the United Kingdom, as well as representatives from European Space Agency, EU Commission consultant ERA Technology, Rockwell Collins, AT&S Austria Technologie & Systemtechnik AG, Philips Healthcare, Henkel, BAE Systems Platform Solutions, Lockheed Martin, Aerospace Industries Association of America, American Embassy Brussels, Avantec, Isola GmbH and EADS.

Working with the meeting attendees, IPC is developing a “supply chain” white paper in response to the proposed restrictions. According to a commission member, a technical response across a large section of the supply chain would be an effective method in communicating industry issues. A copy of the agenda and the workshop presentations are available at www.ipc.org/ipcbrussels.

Solar Inverter Revenue Will Grow 40% this Year

IMS Research (www.imsresearch.com) projects that the global solar inverter market will grow by more than 40% in 2008, driven primarily by continued strong demand from both Germany and Spain. The Wellingborough, UK-based marketing research firm also forecasts that the growth in this market will slow slightly in 2009 as feed-in tariffs are cut in these two countries. Nevertheless, revenues from solar inverters are forecast to exceed $2 billion by 2010, according to the firm.

“By the end of 2008, the global PV inverter market will have more than doubled from its 2006 size,” said Research Director Ash Sharma. “Demand is still very high for solar inverters; however, with cuts in tariffs in Germany already agreed and uncertainty in Spain, market growth in 2009 will be very much dependent upon what happens to module pricing.”

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