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Sensorless Control Introduced for Washing Machines

May 31, 2006

IR platform uses embedded field-oriented control algorithm to improve washing cycles and reduce energy consumption.


EL SEGUNDO, Calif. /BUSINESS WIRE/ -- International Rectifier (IR), a world leader in power management technology, introduced a sensorless control platform for direct-drive permanent magnet synchronous motor (PMSM) washing machines. The new platform, featuring an embedded field-oriented control algorithm for high-dynamic torque control, improves washing cycles, consumes less hot water, and saves up to 70% of energy usage.

This latest addition to the iMOTION family features a mixed-signal controller and companion intelligent power modules, as well as algorithms, development software, and design tools. Combined in one platform, iMOTION for washers simplifies design of variable-speed motor control in both horizontal- and vertical-axis washing machines, accelerating time to market and reducing overall system cost.

"The application of direct-drive PMS motors in washing machines improves system dynamics and reduces overall system cost due to a simpler mechanical structure. Typically, Hall Effect sensors are deployed to provide rotor position information necessary for control of these motors, adding cost and complexity to the motor design. The iMOTION platform enables sensorless sinusoidal current control, completely eliminating Hall Effect sensors and delivering smooth torque over an extended speed range. The bottom line is that the iMOTION approach should accelerate deployment of energy-efficient motors, helping us to save a great deal of electricity," said David Tam, vice president of IR's Energy-Saving Products Segment.

Mixed Signal Control
The high-performance IRMCF341 washer control IC integrates all of the control and analog interface functions required for sensorless speed control of PMS motors using DC link current measurements. The analog functions on the IC include differential amplifier, dual sample-and-hold circuits, and a 12 bit A/D converter to sample the low-voltage signal across the DC link shunt. The digital control IC features IR's patented Motion Control Engine (MCE), which eliminates software coding from the motion control algorithm development process. A co-integrated 60 MIPS, 8 bit, 8051 microcontroller enables application layer software development, operating almost independently of the MCE, and does not compete for system resources, such as interrupts or internal registers. This streamlines application software debugging because the MCE can be treated much like a hardware peripheral with a set of I/O registers. The embedded analog signal engine integrates all the signal conditioning and conversion circuits required for single-current shunt, sensorless control of a PMS motor. The IRMCF341 control IC is available in a 64-pin QFP package with all the required analog inputs and PWM outputs to control the washing machine motor.

Intelligent Power Modules
The companion IRAMS06UP60B and IRAMS10UP60B inverter power modules feature an advanced high-voltage gate drive IC for three-phase inverter control. The modules include the DC link shunt used for both motor current measurement and power module protection. Built-in over-temperature/over-current protection, along with short-circuit rated IGBTs, an integrated under-voltage lockout function, and built-in temperature monitor provide a high level of protection and fail-safe operation.

Design Tools
The platform includes the IRMCS3041 reference design, in addition to Web-based software tools, to customize application requirements. The embedded field-oriented control algorithm optimizes the output torque from interior permanent magnet motors and maximizes bus voltage use in the high-speed field weakening mode.

Tools include communications software running on the 8051 microcontroller that gives the PC-based MCEDesigner software access to the control parameters and system variables in the shared memory. This allows modification of the controller set points and control loop gains and other constants without needing to modify or compile software. MCEDesigner tools generate wash-cycle profiles and plot motor speed and current, accelerating rapid evaluation of direct-drive motor performance with real washing loads.

More information is posted on the International Rectifier Web site.

Availability and Pricing
The new iMOTION washer platform is being sampled to qualified users. The IRMCS3041 reference design is $995 in single-unit quantities. Prices are subject to change. For more details, contact your local International Rectifier sales representative or the International Rectifier Technical Assistance Center.

About iMOTION
International Rectifier's iMOTION integrated design platform consists of a development system, mixed-signal analog chip sets, and power stages, which, when designed together, simplify motion control designs and bring energy-efficient, cost-effective solutions to market faster. More details on the iMOTION platform, as well as links to design assistance, are posted on the iMOTION Web page.

About International Rectifier
International Rectifier is a world leader in power-management technology. IR's analog and mixed signal ICs, advanced circuit devices, integrated power systems, and components enable high-performance computing and reduce energy waste from motors, the world's single largest consumer of electricity. Leading manufacturers of computers, energy efficient appliances, lighting, automobiles, satellites, aircraft and defense systems rely on IR's power management benchmarks to power their next-generation products. For more information, go to the company's Web site.

Trademark Notice
IR and iMOTION are trademarks of International Rectifier Corp. All other product names noted herein may be trademarks of their respective holders.


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