Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (3-08-10): Designing for an energy-efficient environment

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More than a year into the current economic downturn, it is clear to many in electronics and embedded systems design that many segments of consumer electronics will take a long time, if ever, to return to the boom days.

Developers may need to look at other market segments to replace the lagging entertainment electronics sector, but they may not have to look much further than the numerous energy inefficient white goods and appliances. With the cost of energy rising around the globe, energy conservation has become crucial, and consumers who may be reluctant to pay for new entertainment devices may be willing to pay for systems that offer energy savings and that give them the ability to monitor and control entire systems.

Design articles in this area on Embedded.com have been focused on three areas: utility power meters; replacing current home appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators and other white goods with new models with more efficient motors; and eliminating the need for external power in many portable devices with techniques for energy harvesting from external heat and vibration sources.

In the featured design article on Getting basic utility meter designs ready for the Smart Grid ,” author Sunil Deep Maheshwari describes how to design power meters that serve both today's needs as well as those of the still-being-defined smart power grid. In “Smart Metering Promotes Energy Efficiency,” Austin Harney describes the various types of smart meter systems and the benefits they offer to both the consumer and to the power companies.

Other motor design article topics include: switched reluctance motor design, more efficient brushless motor control designs, taming terawatt-hour power consumption in motor designs, delivering more energy-efficient climate control systems, and improving the efficiency of AC induction motors.

Another focus of our attention has been power-factor correction technology, where, in addition to ESD feature Motor efficiency depends on power-factor correction, too, recent articles topics have included:  high efficiency with power switches, high power density power supplies, and sensor-less field oriented motor control. Good reading! (Embedded.com Editor Bernard Cole, bccole@acm.org ).

Getting basic utility meter designs ready for the Smart Grid
To be part of the emerging smart power utility grid revolution, you need to get the basics. Here is the lowdown on the design requirements of current basic utility meter apps and how they will evolve to meet future energy needs.
  EDITOR'S TOP PICK by Bernard Cole, Embedded.com Editor
Smart Metering Promotes Energy Efficiency
The venerable electromechanical power-line meter is being replaced by the electronic smart meter. Understand the various types of smart metering and the benefits these meters offer.
  DESIGN ARTICLES: Power Factor Design
Motor efficiency depends on power-factor correction, too
Active power-factor correction is necessary for modern motors due to the highly non-linear load they would otherwise present to the ac mains.
Motor control in air conditioners with dual sensor less FOC & active PFC
Improved energy efficiency and reduced system costs are the driving factors in modern motor control designs. Sophisticated motor control concepts with sensor less Field Oriented Control (FOC) and Power Factor Correction (PFC) help to fulfill these demands. The article shows how these concepts can be used in an air conditioner design for vehicles.
Achieving high efficiency with power switches
This how-to describes the general features of the asymmetric PWM half-bridge converters with current doubler and synchronous rectifier. In addition, one example with some experimental results, is shown using FSFA-series, Fairchild's Green Power Switches for asymmetric-controlled topologies.
Electric motor efficiency depends upon power factor
Electric motor power efficiency has taken center stage. Individuals, corporations, and governments are increasingly interested in saving power, and we now have the technology that can make it possible. Advances in motor control algorithms and cost-effective electronic components for implementing motor drives are creating a revolution in virtually every electric motor market and this article from Actel shows you how to design with this in consideration!
Achieving high power density in industrial power supplies
This design article shows you how advanced modules for the PWM and synchronous rectification stages in industrial power supplies can help to increase its power density and satisfy eco-design requirements.
  DESIGN ARTICLES: Energy Harvesting
Energy Harvesting – The next “big thing?”
Energy harvesting in embedded designs is not without its problems and will require designers to analyze very carefully the parameters of their system design to see if these techniques can be used effectively.
Hyper-integrated MCUs
This series of three articles will look at three significant trends emerging in one of the most critical and competitive sockets in modern electronic systems. Part 2: hyper-integrated microcontrollers.
A no-sweat guide to making your embedded design “green.”
There are some simple steps you can take to make your app “greener” and more power efficient before you take on the job of programming, or reprogramming, your motor-control algorithms.
RF energy harvesting: don't wait for the Holy Grail to start saving power
The efficient use of energy is an ever growing concern in today's world. Being able to generate clean energy and manage it in the most efficient way has become a hot topic. A concept like the smart grid is an example of how this concern can be addressed at a large scale. At the level of electronic devices, this interest for efficient energy translates into efforts to develop devices that are powered using energy harvesting.
  DESIGN ARTICLES: Efficient Motor Design
How Switched Reluctance Motors enable green designs
The electronics industry continues to transition from designing with inefficient induction motors to Switched Reluctance Motors (SRMs) that offer high efficiency, elegant design and an ultra-compact size to accommodate the size and weight needs of today's electronics.
Driving higher levels of efficiency in motor designs
With energy conservation as a key focus globally, efficiency in motor designs is a growing concern. With governmental regulations urging higher levels of efficiency, motor drives are becoming more sophisticated to meet this efficiency challenge. This how-to from Fairchild will discuss motor drives, industry trends and solutions that make it easier for designers to reduce wasted energy, increase reliability, and lower the component count.
Driving up the efficiency of motor based applications through improved control
The falling cost of brushless DC and permanent magnet synchronous motor drive controllers is helping the industry to clean up its act.
Taming Terawatt-hour appetites with efficient motor controls
Providing an overview of eco-design issues in EU appliance and industrial motor control design, this article discusses EC 92/75/EEC and how it affects appliance motor control design efficiency.
Delivering HVAC efficiency improvements
Using LIN-based mechatronic valve control to drive efficiency improvements in automotive climate control systems
Improving efficiency of AC induction motors with slip control and soft start
Here's how flash-based, mixed-signal FPGAs can be implemented to provide a low-power, single-chip approach to optimizing slip control in AC induction motors.
Using fast-recover MOSFETs for current commutation in brushless DC motors
How you can use a fast-recover diode to improve the body diode performance in a brushless motor three-phase inverter topology providing six-step current commutation.

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