New research project started: Smart transformers for industrial machine construction of the future?

Transformers are one of the most important components in the power supply of plants, machines and devices. The new research project "STIM - Smart Transformers as a Power Supply of the Future for Industrial Mechanical Engineering" examines to what extent classic transformers on the machine side can be replaced in the future.

The transformer (transformer) is one of the core elements of AC networks. It is used to adjust tensions between the supply network and the consumer network. It also isolates the networks from each other.

Since the transformer is always on the grid, it uses energy all the time. A considerable proportion of the electrical energy generated is therefore lost in transformers. Good efficiency and low internal losses of transformers are therefore particularly important in order to achieve an energy-efficient electrical network. However, the technical possibilities for further reducing transformer losses are very limited. An alternative approach is therefore necessary, which can be achieved with the help of power electronics. One field of application is low voltage isolating transformers.

In order to be able to install and operate systems in industrial mechanical engineering worldwide, classic low-voltage isolating transformers are used today to generate a defined power supply network on the machine side. This use has a serious disadvantage: the respective machine system is rigid, any input or output voltage must be regulated via a further transformer or a so-called tap. To compensate for this disadvantage, the project participants are working on resource savings and technical improvement. “If the size of the inductive winding material of the transformer and the capacitors are significantly reduced, this will result in lower copper and aluminum consumption. This saving in turn leads to significant cost savings and an increase in efficiency when using a transformer”, says Artur Mambetow, research assistant in the project. "The free space in the transformer could also be used for other purposes, for example for additional digital services."

In addition to the resource-related savings potential, transformers used in industrial mechanical engineering have another deficit. “Classic transformers lack a wide-range input, which would lead to a smaller variety of types, a reduced wiring effort and a reduced number of wiring errors. With a wide-range entrance, the downtime of a system could be significantly reduced, ”explains project manager Professor Holger Borcherding. "Another project goal is therefore to demonstrate that any number of taps can be implemented with an electronic transformer and that even rectifiers of the following inverters can be saved by tapping on the DC link voltage."

You can download the press release below: (available in German)