# A Review of DC-AC Converters for Electric Vehicle Applications

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## Abstract

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## 1. Introduction

- An overview is provided, and some trends in DC-AC converters for EV applications are discussed.
- The DC-AC converter circuits, two-level PWM inverters, and classical and modern MLI topologies are reviewed.
- A classification of the existing configurations of the DC-AC converter topology is presented to introduce an integrated framework.
- Different types of DC-AC converter topology circuits have been investigated and used in many applications. This helps in selecting the proper DC-AC converter topology circuit for specific applications.
- Finally, these classifications aim to cover all aspects of the DC-AC inverter topology and the advantages and disadvantages of each type to provide a useful framework for future EV applications.

## 2. Classification of DC-AC Converters Topologies

- The input currents have a sinusoidal shape with low distortion.
- The output voltages have a reduced harmonic distortion.
- Cleaner output waveforms allow a smaller filter size.
- Reduced dv/dt stresses on the converter components, i.e., a reduced dv/dt on the filter results in a reduction in the filter losses and size.
- Reduced common-mode voltage, which reduces common-mode currents.
- Lower switching frequency resulting in reduced switching losses.

- Larger number of semiconductor switching devices.
- A separate gate-drive circuit is required for each switch.
- Complicated control circuit.
- Higher cost of main circuit and related control system.

## 3. Two-Level PWM DC-AC Inverters (TLIs) Topologies

#### 3.1. Hard Switching Topologies

- The switching devices in VSI, CSI, ISI, and TBI PWM inverters are required to be controlled at a higher switching frequency to achieve low harmonic distortion in the output voltages and currents.
- Switching losses are high owing to the operation at a higher switching frequency. The VSIs and CSIs are controlled from a small number of kHz up to approximately 100 kHz, while the ISIs and TBIs are usually switched at 20 kHz and higher to realize lower harmonic distortion at the output.
- The switching at higher frequencies is valuable in the CSI, as a minimized element volume can be utilized. Consequently, this can result in an increase in the power losses in the switching devices in both the CSI and VSI, which require a heat sink for cooling. This increases the inverter volume and destroys the benefit of a high frequency switching.
- The output filter is required at both the VSI and CSI output, resulting in an increase in the system size and cost.

#### 3.2. Soft Switching DC-AC Topologies

#### 3.2.1. Resonant Link DC-AC Inverters

- (a)
**Resonant AC-link:**The AC-link waveforms could be either an alternating current or alternating voltage to produce ZCS or ZVS conditions respectively for the DC-AC inverter three-phase bridge. Hereafter, bidirectional power switches should be employed. A resonant AC-link using series resonance was reported in [67]. A parallel resonant AC-link suitable for driving induction motors was studied in [68]. A power conversion systems based-on high-frequency link were presented as a different methodology to power conversion in distribution systems [69]. A resonant circuit with LC high-frequency-link is placed into the input DC-bus. The main disadvantages of the resonant AC-link inverter circuit are that it involves a large number of semiconductor devices and a complex control circuit. They are categorized as series resonant AC-links and parallel-resonant AC-links, as displayed in Figure 9. In the series resonant AC-link, the series resonant components can produce a sinusoidal current waveforms in the link, while in the parallel-resonant mode can produce a sinusoidal voltage-link waveforms.- (b)
**Resonant DC-link:**The DC-link resonance is a DC-biased fluctuating waveform, whereby unidirectional power switches can be placed in the DC-AC inverter threephase bridge and with ZVS or ZCS soft switching conditions [70]. Resonant networks are located between the DC source and inverter. However, several enhanced soft-switching inverter circuit topologies have been developed [71,72,73,74,75,76], which are categorized as (1) Series-resonant DC-Link inverters, and (2) Parallel-resonant DC-Link inverters.- (1)
**Series resonant DC-link:**The principle of a series resonant DC-link was proposed in [77,78], as shown in Figure 10. The resonant circuit elements must constantly store an equal amount of energy in each resonance cycle. Subsequently, oscillations might occur because of the input or motor load deviations. The output of the series resonant DC-link must be capacitive. In the case of an inductive load, the capacitors should be placed at the output. For a series resonant DC-link, the inverter switching devices are turned-on and off with ZCS soft-switching. However, several inverter topologies have been demonstrated based on this concept [79,80,81,82,83,84]. In this situation, it is applicable to switch SCRs at high frequencies more than in the forced commutation PWM condition. These characteristics make the series resonant DC-link favorable for high-power and high-dynamic performance applications, such as EV motor drives. The key disadvantages of a series of resonant DC-links are high-link regular/irregular current peaks and complications in the control circuit.- (2)
**Parallel resonant DC-link:**The concept of parallel resonant DC-link was proposed in [85], as shown in Figure 11. In this circuit, the load can be substituted by a VSI. Therefore, in the DC-link, a resonant voltage appears, where the inverter switching devices can be turned-on or off with a soft switching condition. The semiconductor switches suffer from voltage stresses that are larger than twice the DC source voltage. Utilizing switches with high rating voltage increases the overall cost of the power circuit. Based on this principle, a new circuit was implemented in [86]. Although the topology is slightly different from that studied in [85], the proposed resonant inverter is not promising because of the exceeding of the circuit elements.

- (i)
**Passive clamped DC-link:**Passive clamp DC-link is accomplished by adding an auxiliary circuit, mainly comprised of passive elements (coupled-inductor), and a diode is placed on the DC-bus [87]. This approach is applied by extracting energy from the LC resonance tank to establish the clamp level. The obtained energy is supplied back to the power source. On the other hand, adequate surplus energy can be stored in the inductor to guarantee zero-crossing position in the voltage waveform of DC-link. Consequently, the DC-link peak voltage stresses are reduced using this technique [87].- (ii)
**Active Clamped DC-Link:**The concept of the active clamped DC-link was proposed in [88], as shown in Figure 12. The clamping device Sc assists in retrieving the charge stored in capacitor Cc while the average DC-link voltage is still equivalent to the source voltage Vdc. The clamping circuit also supports the creation of an appropriate initial current passing through the resonance inductor Lr for the subsequent resonance cycle. However, this can be attained by correctly adjusting the instant of turning off the clamping switching device Sc. Consequently, the short-circuit is avoided on the DC-link during the zero-crossing instant, thereby removing the dead-time period. The clamp voltage Vcc can be sustained without using an auxiliary DC-power source by accurately regulating the clamping switch Sc. According to this perception, the authors studied some circuit topologies such as [89,90,91,92].The disadvantages of the active clamped resonant DC-link:- High ratio of di/dt exists in each switching cycle because the current magnitude is a function of the ratio of clamp voltage to the supply voltage (i.e., k = Vcc/Vdc). The existence of high value of (di/dt) promotes the EMI.
- The variation in the DC-link frequency is a function of K, which adds to the harmonic contents of the load current.
- The additional active clamp circuit adds complexity to the resonant network and increases power losses in the DC-link. Furthermore, accurate control of voltage at DC-link will be more challenging.

- (iii)
**Reduced Voltage DC-Link:**The concept of reduced voltage was proposed in [93], as shown in Figure 13. The loss calculation has also been specified [94]. This topology is composed of two additional resonant elements (Lh and Ch) integrated with the basic parallel resonant DC-link topology. To reach soft switching conditions for the inverter power switches, the resonant switch Sr is energized during each switching cycle. However, the two elements of resonant network ((Lr, Cr) and (Lh, Ch)) are determined in such a way that the resonance frequency of one network (Lh, Ch) is approximately three times that of the second network (Lr, Cr).The disadvantages of the reduced voltage resonant DC-link are:- The circuit has two pairs of resonant elements.
- This circuit topology requires a complicated control circuit, such as a current estimation scheme, which estimates the initial current in the resonant main inductor throughout each resonant period.

#### 3.2.2. Load Resonant PWM DC-AC Inverters

- The volume and weight of the LC elements become larger.
- Meanwhile, both the semiconductor switches and the resonant elements are connected in the same power transfer path, and the semiconductor switches suffer from severe voltages and current stresses.
- To achieve a wide range of output voltages and to reduce the output harmonic distortion, the quality factor (Q) of the resonant network should be as high as possible.

#### 3.2.3. Resonant Transition DC-AC Inverters

- (a)
**Soft-Transition:**Soft-transition techniques have been reported in the literature as zero-voltage transition (ZVT) inverters and zero current transition (ZCT) inverters [112,113,114,115,116,117,118], as shown in Figure 15 and Figure 16. In the ZVT inverter, when the auxiliary resonant circuit is activated, both the load and the DC bus realize a parallel resonance network, while, in the case of the ZCT inverter, the load and the DC-bus realize a series resonant network. However, the ZCT inverter is not the dual of the ZVT inverter. All the active switches of the inverter-bridge in the soft-transition inverters are turned on and off with ZVT and ZCT, respectively. However, all the diodes and the auxiliary switch in the ZVT inverter topology are subjected to the ZCS turn-on and turn-off, whereas in the case of the ZCT inverter, the diodes and auxiliary switches in the inverter bridge are hardly turned off at levels near the load current. Ref. [70] proposed the concept of soft-transition PWM (STPWM). Consequently, based on this perception, further soft-transition structures have been reported [71,72,73,74,75]. The operation of this topology is similar to that of a conventional PWM converter, except for the duration of the switching transient. This arrangement has the limitation that it requires a substantial number of components comprising three resonant inductors and a diode-bridge.- (b)
**Resonant-Snubber:**The simple principle of resonant snubbers (RS) is addressed in [76,119], as shown in Figure 17. This arrangement utilizes a resonant capacitor parallel to the switching device to realize zero-voltage switching turn-off and a resonant inductor alongside an additional switch to turn it on with zero voltage. Therefore, it is known as an auxiliary resonant snubber (ARS) inverter [115]. The ARS inverter has been designed particularly for electric propulsion. Therefore, auxiliary switching devices and resonating inductors are used along with resonating snubber capacitors to operate with soft-switching situations. This inverter offers the advantage that all semiconductor devices can perform with the ZVS soft-switching state, whereas all the auxiliary switches can also operate in the ZCS soft-switching. Furthermore, the stray capacitance and parasitic inductance are employed as part of the resonant components. The power losses of the related additional circuit can be further minimized by using soft-switching vector control [116].- (c)
**Quasi-Resonant:**In quasi-resonant (QR) inverters [120,121,122,123,124,125,126,127,128,129,130,131,132,133,134], as shown in Figure 18, each switching period or cycle has two intervals: the non-resonating interval and resonating interval or period. The resonant interval represents a small period of the switching interval. For the duration of the resonant interval, the resonance network is initiated to facilitate a soft-switching operation. The soft-switching in this case can be zero-voltage soft-switching (ZVS) or zero-current soft-switching (ZCS). However, this principle has been successfully applied to PWM soft-switching converter circuits [120]. Several categories of resonant switching devices were considered as the basic cells, which can be applied to a widespread diversity of topologies. Whereby, when this conception is applied straight to DC-AC conversion [121], the resulting topologies will be extremely complicated because of the large number of required switches. Various QR soft-switching topologies have been introduced [122,123,124,127,128,129,130,131,132,133,134] based on the zero-voltage soft-switching principle. The averaging technique was introduced for modeling quasi-resonant inverters [125]. The utilization of IGBT-GTO cascaded switches achieves a better performance for high-power QR PWM inverters [126]. Refs. [122,123,124,127] proposed topologies of QR based on ZVS with a PWM control method. This adopted control scheme performs a PWM operation at any modulation index. Using additional switches and overmodulation are some of the shortcomings of the PWM technique. To solve such problems, the authors in [128] discussed the space-vector-modulation (SVM) technique. Using this SVM technique, the difficult over-modulation index can be precluded by controlling the time-ratio, and the number of switches is minimized with enhancement in the produced waveforms and a reduction in harmonics. However, the SVM scheme is considered promising to achieve good performance with the PWM scheme.

- Simplicity of configuration because of fewer number of components. Therefore, the system is reliable.
- Simplicity of control schemes due to fewer switching devices utilized.
- Can be operated at a high switching frequency, resulting in smaller passive components (i.e., inductors and capacitors).

- Low total harmonic distortion (THD)
- Higher power losses in semiconductor devices due to high-frequency switching.
- The output voltage has a high dv/dt while the output current has di/dt, which can result in high EMI.
- Sometimes a complicated cooling system is required (heat-sink) that increases the overall size of the system.
- Poor circuit efficiency at high-frequency switching.

- Low total harmonic distortion (THD).
- Possibility of low-frequency switching.
- Small switching losses.
- Low dv/dt, resulting in low EMI.
- Low-voltage rating of the devices used.
- Higher circuit efficiency.

## 4. Multilevel DC-AC Inverters (MLIs) Topologies

#### 4.1. Classical Multilevel DC-AC Inverter (MLI) Topologies

#### 4.2. Diode-Clamped Multilevel Inverter Topology

- Does not require a separate DC supply per bridge leg.
- A combination of DC-link capacitors could be charged together.
- Fewer number of switching devices and capacitors as compared with other conventional topologies.
- The switching losses in the power switches are reduced owing to low switch commutation. Consequently, the efficiency is higher, especially for operation at the fundamental frequency.

- Reverse recovery problem of clamping diodes; that is, more conduction losses in IGBTs.
- Switching at the fundamental frequency will cause an increase in the current and voltage THD.
- Unequal distribution of power losses among semiconductor devices that produce an asymmetrical temperature distribution.

#### 4.3. Flying-Capacitor Multilevel Inverter

- Requires only one DC source.
- The voltage synthesized in FC-MLI has more resilience than a DC-MLI.
- Ability to control active and reactive power, which can be used for capacitor balancing.
- A considerable number of clamping capacitors can be used as a capacitor bank that supports a short backup power supply for a short period in the case of short-time power outages.

- The balancing problem of capacitors.
- The increase in the level number will impede the correct charging and discharging of the capacitors.
- Large number of capacitors increase the size and cost of inverter.

#### 4.4. Cascaded H-Bridge Multilevel Inverter Topology

- The number of output voltage levels is equal to twice the number of DC sources plus one (m = 2 s +1).
- All the power devices operate at the lower switching frequency, resulting in lower switching losses.
- In CHB–MLI, a low rated-voltage is required for the power switch. This results in a lower dv/dt and lower electromagnetic interference (EMI).

- To achieve near sinusoidal output voltages with minimum THD, numerous components are required.
- A high number of voltage levels require many separate DC sources, switching devices, and power diodes to construct the circuit.

## 5. Advanced Multilevel Inverter (MLI) Topologies

#### 5.1. Cascaded-Boost Switched-Capacitor Multilevel Inverters

#### 5.2. Switched-Inductor Multilevel PWM Inverter

#### 5.3. Switched-Capacitor Boost Multilevel Inverter Using Partial Charging

#### 5.4. Switched-Capacitor PWM Inverter Based on Series-Parallel Combination

#### 5.5. Hybrid Multilevel Inverter Based on Switched-Capacitor

#### 5.6. Comparison of Several Advanced Multilevel Inverter Topologies

- (1)
- Output voltage harmonic contents (THD);
- (2)
- Total power losses in the circuit;
- (3)
- Semiconductor switching devices and other passive components (diodes, capacitors, and inductors);
- (4)
- Smaller size of components.

- These circuits can achieve a high output AC voltages without using a considerable number of isolated input sources.
- Voltage levels can be increased using multiple SC circuits with a suitable control scheme.
- Some applications require an output voltage that exceeds the input voltage. This can be achieved using a boost inverter circuit.

- Can be operated without input inductors.
- The number of switching devices and DC sources is lower than that of classical CHB-MLI inverters.
- Multiple units of SC cells can be switched at a high frequency. As the switching frequency increases, smaller passive components can be used.
- Ability to have higher-voltage gain.
- For high-power applications, they are suitable for producing a high multilevel voltage using additional SCC cells.
- Various structures integrate with modular structure.

- More components cause the circuit to be bulky.
- Increasing the power switches results in more power losses.
- High spike or transient current in the capacitors degrades the circuit efficiency.
- Special methods are required for capacitor voltage regulation, such as redundant switching states (RSS).

- Fewer switching devices and capacitors compared with the capacitor-based type of SC MLI circuits.
- An inductor can be placed in the input circuit. Thus, the resonant characteristics can be utilized for voltage boosting.
- Internal resistance of the resonant inductor limits the spike currents.
- Switching devices in the SCB–MLI circuits are controlled by high-frequency PWM switching. Thus, smaller components could be used. Moreover, the output voltage will be easy to filter, resulting in a low THD.

- High power dissipation exists due to high-frequency switching in the semiconductor devices.
- More stages of SC cells are required to generate more voltage levels, which affects the THD in the output.
- Many clamping diodes are required to block the voltage.
- Complex control circuits are required for controlling the DC-link and capacitor voltages.
- Power switches suffer from high voltage stresses due to a high dv/dt, resulting in high EMI.
- Many power switches are used, resulting in higher switching losses.
- Multi-stages of SC units increase the number of semiconductor devices that require gate drive circuits, protection arrangements, and cooling elements (heat sink) [16]. This leads to increasing overall cost, weight, or size of the inverter.

## 6. Conclusions

## Author Contributions

## Funding

## Acknowledgments

## Conflicts of Interest

## Abbreviations

AC | Actively Clamped |

AC | Alternative Current |

BEV | Battery Electric Vehicle |

CHB | Cascaded H-Bridge |

CBSC | Cascaded Boost Switched-Capacitor |

CSI | Current Source Inverter |

DC | Diode Clamped |

DC | Direct Current |

EMI | Electro-Magnetic Interference |

EV | Electric Vehicle |

FC | Flying Capacitor |

FCV | Fuel Cell Vehicle |

HEV | Hybrid Electric Vehicle |

HMI-SC | Hybrid Multi-level Inverter using Switched-Capacitor |

IGBT | Insulated-Gate Bipolar-Transistor |

ISI | Impedance-Source-Inverter |

LR | Load Resonant |

MLI | Multilevel inverter |

MLIs | Multi-Level Inverters |

NPC | Neutral Point Clamped |

P | Parallel |

PC | Passively Clamped |

PHEV | Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle |

PWM | Pulse width modulation |

QR | Quasi-Resonant |

RBSC | Resonant Based Switched Capacitor |

RL | Resonant Link |

RS | Resonant Snubber |

RT | Resonant Transition |

RV | Reduced Voltage |

S | Series |

SC-MLIs | Switched capacitor Multilevel inverter |

SCB | Switched Capacitor Boost |

SCC | Switched-Capacitor Circuit |

SCI-S/P | Switched-Capacitor Inverter using Series/Parallel |

SI–MLI | Switched inductor Multilevel inverter |

STPWM | Soft Transition PWM |

TBI | Two Boost Inverter |

THD | Total harmonic distortion |

TLIs | Two-Level Inverters |

VSI | Voltage Source Inverter |

ZCS | Zero Current Switching |

ZVS | Zero Voltage Switching |

ZCT | Zero Current Transition |

ZVT | Zero Voltage Transition |

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**Figure 1.**Various types of power electronics converters used in a typical series hybrid vehicle design system.

**Figure 3.**Three-phase three-Level topology of neutral point clamped multilevel inverter (NPC-MLI) for EV motor drive.

**Figure 9.**Resonant AC-link inverter for EV motor drive. (

**a**) Series resonant AC-link, (

**b**) Parallel resonant AC-link.

**Figure 14.**Load resonant DC-AC inverter (LRI) topology for EV motor drive. (

**a**) Series-load resonant DC-AC inverter, and (

**b**) Parallel-load resonant DC-AC inverter.

**Figure 20.**Three-phase three-levels flying-capacitor multilevel inverter (FC-MLI) topology for EV motor drive.

**Figure 21.**Three-phase three-level topology of cascaded H-bridge multilevel inverter (CHB–MLI) for EV motor drive.

**Figure 22.**Three-phase five-level cascaded switched-capacitor multilevel boost inverter (CBSC-MLI) for EV motor drive.

**Figure 23.**Three-phase seven-level switched-inductor multilevel inverter (SI-MLI) for EV motor drive.

**Figure 24.**Three-phase thirteen-level switched-capacitor multilevel boost inverter (SCB-MLI) with partial charging.

**Figure 25.**Three-phase seven-level switched-capacitor PWM inverter using series-parallel (SCI-S/P) conversion.

**Figure 26.**Three-phase hybrid multilevel inverter (HMLI-SC) using switched-capacitor for EV motor drive.

Inverter Type | Controller | Modulation Techniques & Control Strategies | Mode of Operation | Reference |
---|---|---|---|---|

VSI | PWM | Unipolar PWM | Buck | [1] |

VSI | PWM | Pulse Width Modulation | Buck | [20] |

VSI | PWM | high carrier frequency unipolar PWM modulation | Buck | [35] |

VSI | SPWM | Sinusoidal pulse width modulation | Buck | [1,14,21] |

CSI | PI | Dual Loop Control | Boost | [36] |

CSI | SMC | Sliding Mode Control | Boost | [22] |

CSI | SPWM | Sinusoidal pulse width modulation | Boost | [21,32,34] |

CSI | PWM | Pulse width modulation | Buck, Boost and Buck-Boost | [37,38,39,40] |

CSI | PWM | Boost the Voltage in Shoot Through the State | Modified as Improved SBI | [41] |

CSI | PWM | Microcontroller-based reference-waveform generation Method | Boost | [42,43] |

ISI | PWM | Modified PWM Space Vector Control | — | [44] |

ISI | PWM | Shoot-through duty factor control and modulation index control | Modified multiple source application | [27] |

ISI | PWM | Maximum Constant Boost with Third Harmonic Injection Control | — | [45] |

ISI | PWM | Maximum Boost Control PWM Technique | — | [46] |

TBI | SMC | Sliding Mode Control | Boost | [47,48,49,50,51] |

TBI | PI | Dual Loop Control | Boost and Buck-Boost | [29,52,53,54,55,56,57,58] |

TBI | PID | Ziegler-Nichols Tuning | Buck-Boost | [59,60] |

TBI | PWM | Dual Loop Control | Boost | [61,62] |

TBI | PWM | Unipolar PWM Control | Boost | [63] |

TBI | PWM | One-Cycle Control | Boost | [64] |

TBI | AFNNC | Adaptive Fuzzy Rule-Based Neural Network Control | Boost | [65,66] |

Topology | Number of | ||||||
---|---|---|---|---|---|---|---|

DC Voltage Sources | Switches | Antiparallel Diodes | Close Diodes | Capacitors | Balancing Capacitors | Output Voltage Levels | |

DC–MLI | 1 | 12 | 12 | 6 | 0 | 2 | 3 |

FC–MLI | 1 | 12 | 12 | 0 | 3 | 2 | 3 |

CHB–MLI | 3 | 12 | 12 | 0 | 0 | 0 | 3 |

Topology | Number of | ||||
---|---|---|---|---|---|

Voltage Levels in the Output | Active Switches | Diodes | Capacitors | Inductors | |

CBSC | 13 | 10 | 12 | 6 | 1 |

SCB | 13 | 11 | 3 | 2 | 1 |

SCI-S/P | 13 | 15 | 15 | 6 | 0 |

SI | 13 | 9 | 1 | 4 | 1 |

HMI | 25 | 12 | 2 | 2 | 0 |

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**MDPI and ACS Style**

Sayed, K.; Almutairi, A.; Albagami, N.; Alrumayh, O.; Abo-Khalil, A.G.; Saleeb, H.
A Review of DC-AC Converters for Electric Vehicle Applications. *Energies* **2022**, *15*, 1241.
https://doi.org/10.3390/en15031241

**AMA Style**

Sayed K, Almutairi A, Albagami N, Alrumayh O, Abo-Khalil AG, Saleeb H.
A Review of DC-AC Converters for Electric Vehicle Applications. *Energies*. 2022; 15(3):1241.
https://doi.org/10.3390/en15031241

**Chicago/Turabian Style**

Sayed, Khairy, Abdulaziz Almutairi, Naif Albagami, Omar Alrumayh, Ahmed G. Abo-Khalil, and Hedra Saleeb.
2022. "A Review of DC-AC Converters for Electric Vehicle Applications" *Energies* 15, no. 3: 1241.
https://doi.org/10.3390/en15031241