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Power Electronics Europe News

VoltServer, Inc., an East Greenwich, R.I., manufacturer of power distribution products, is changing the future of energy delivery with its patented Digital Electricity™ technology that transmits up to 2 kW of power across long distances (up to 2 km) using off-the-shelf data cables. Digital Electricity is a line powering system, which is a means of energizing remote equipment from a centralized location over structured copper cable. It runs high-voltage power over lightweight data cable and delivers low current downstream to power loads. VoltServer takes conventional electricity and breaks it into small pulses, or “energy packets.” Each packet is sent to a receiver from a transmitter that contains local, embedded processing. Each energy packet is analyzed using a digital signal processing engine to determine that power is being precisely and safely distributed. If a fault is detected, the next energy packet is not sent. Each packet contains only a very small amount of energy, so individually they are not harmful to people, animals, systems or buildings. The receiver converts Digital Electricity back into analog AC or DC to power local loads. Similar to power-over-ethernet (PoE), this enables VoltServer to transport both digital data and power in a single hybrid cabling infrastructure, making it much easier and more economical to install than conventional 110/220 V electrical systems. This simplicity allows architects, designers and facility managers to configure and reconfigure wireless networks, office floorplans and agricultural grow rooms. And because the platform is natively digital, it provides unprecedented insights into energy use with a centralized dashboard. This gives building operators and maintenance staff a granular view of their electric grid to better manage critical loads while eliminating the need for traditional circuit breaker panels.

Vicor Corporation has worked closely with VoltServer since they began product development. Vicor’s passively-cooled BCM® DC/DC fixed-ratio bus converters are designed into the receivers transforming the higher transmission voltage to a safe low voltage to power the loads. The 97 % power efficiency allows reliable cooling without a fan within a smaller enclosure. They provide the power efficiency that allows the receivers to be placed in tight, enclosed spaces that are too small to accommodate cooling fans. This allows the VoltServer platform to operate more efficiently with much smaller heat sinks and significantly shrinks the receiver footprint. “With the Vicor converter, we have 43 % less heat loss than a normal converter, and the heat sink size decreases proportionately,” said Dan Lowe, VoltServer co-founder and Chief Business Officer.

VoltServer uses the Vicor’s BCM6123 fixed-ratio bus converter in the endpoint receivers to efficiently convert the power packets. BCMs use a proprietary, low-noise, high-efficiency Sine Amplitude Converter (SAC™) topology that requires little electromagnetic filtration. This further shrinks the power system footprint and simplifies the design while meeting EMI standards. “With so little electromagnetic filtering needed, we can make the Digital Electricity receiver very compact and mount it pretty much anywhere,” Lowe said. “Any other converter would generate more heat. That means that the receiver box would need to be much bigger and would require a lot more cooling – and ultimately would cost a lot more and be more difficult to install in space constrained locations.”



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