What’s next ? – An interview with Danfoss

The evolution of the inverter industry directly follows industrial evolution, with both conventional applications such as Motor Drives, Photovoltaics and Wind, and also new applications such as EV/HEV and Charging Infrastructure. These segments are all evolving at different speeds, sometimes with the same actors and with many synergies between them.

In the report “Status of the Inverter Industry 2019”, Yole Développement (Yole)’s analysts explain how the segments are evolving, the landscape for each, and some of the technological advances expected for the coming years. In fact, the global inverter market represented almost US$53.4 billion in 2018 with an expected 5.3% CAGR between 2018 and 2024, which translates to many varied business opportunities, especially for new segments where the supply chain is still not established.

Danfoss Silicon Power is involved in the development of customized power stacks and modules. i-Micronews invites you to discover Danfoss’ perspective in this interview with Mette Nordstrom, Strategy, Marketing and Communication Director. This interview has been conducted by Ana Villamor, PhD., Technology & Market Analyst at Yole.

Ana Villamor (AV): Can you briefly introduce yourself and your activities at Danfoss to i-micronews.com’s readers?

Mette Nordstrom (MN): Danfoss Silicon Power is an independent business unit and part of the Danfoss Group enabling electrification to change our world. For about three decades, Danfoss Silicon Power has been helping top-tier manufacturers and system suppliers meet stringent reliability, design and cost targets by developing customized IGBT power modules and power stacks for tomorrow’s e-mobility, energy and industrial applications. Today, we have manufacturing facilities in Flensburg, Germany and Utica in New York, US. Soon, we anticipate establishing a manufacturing plant in China as well.

AV: Danfoss is well known for its power stack products for different power applications. What, in your opinion, is the added value of power stack products developed by Danfoss?

MN: With our emphasis on renewables, many of our stacks are in offshore wind turbines or in other inaccessible locations for easy maintenance. We therefore put a lot of focus on robustness and reliability for an extended lifetime, which also has a bearing on high level of quality. In addition, we use our many years of power module technology development to ensure cost-competitiveness, modularity, and again, high quality.

Especially the technology is very important for us. We engage with many Universities and Research partners to identify, develop and commercialize technologies that can enable more power dense, integrated or cost-competitive solutions going forward. A good example is the application of our direct liquid cooling technology, ShowerPower®, that is extremely efficient in applications such as wind.

DCM™ power module with ShowerPower®3D
Courtesy of Danfoss – DCM™ power module with ShowerPower®3D

AV: Which are the main segments covered by Danfoss’s power stacks?

MN: Danfoss concentrates on renewables, both wind and solar, while also operating in the industrial motor drives market.
We also see requests for customized power stacks in new applications such as EV charging and battery storage. That is also the reason why we showcased a unique Full SiC stack reference design at this years PCIM in Nurnberg, Germany. 

AV: We expect a CAGR 2018-2024 of 20.7% for EV/HEV inverters, so there is big business ahead and many players want to be involved in this segment. Could you comment on the products you offer for the EV/HEV segment? What would be the related roadmap for the next five years?

MN: At Danfoss we have also experienced significant growth in this segment, and we expect this to continue.  Our key offerings in this market are customized IGBT and SiC power modules for the main traction inverters for HEV/EVs.

We have recently launched our new power module technology platform – DCM1000™ – for the HEV/EV main inverter market. Based on a modular approach, the DCM technology platform enables us to develop customized solutions faster while at the same time utilizing our patented technologies such as advanced bonding-and-joining technology Danfoss Bond Buffer® and direct liquid cooling with ShowerPower®3D with the objective of making the most out of the power semiconductors.

The DCM™ enables OEMs and Tier-1s to apply winning technologies that will allow them to  realize cost-saving at system level and at the same time go faster to market and build inverters using a modular approach.

DCM™ power module with Danfoss BondBuffer® advanced bonding-and joining technology
Courtesy of Danfoss – DCM™ power module with Danfoss BondBuffer® advanced bonding-and joining technology

As for the roadmap, we plan to further develop our DCM™ technology platform, to continue to find ways to get more out of the power semiconductors. In other words, our goals will be focusing around avoiding power derating, selecting the bonding processes that are ensuring lifetime, improving the cooling technology to reduce the needed semiconductor area, reducing packaging size to allow for high power density and also to ensure robustness and fit for integration into electro-mechanics.

In summary, this means that Danfoss continuingly needs to master four main areas of technology development: 1) bonding-and-joining for reliability and robustness, 2) housing/encapsulation allowing for modularity and integration, 3) cooling enabling higher power density, and lastly, 4) semiconductor for high performance and efficiency.

Molded  DCM™  power module
Courtesy of Danfoss – Molded DCM™ power module

AV: Charging Infrastructure is another one of the growing segments, following the growth of the EV fleet. Based in your experience, could you comment on the growth of this segment in the coming years? Which types of products are most requested?

MN: Naturally with the growth of the EV/HEV fleet, we are seeing a growing need for charging infra-structure. We expect two specific requirements, for custom SiC power modules for fast charging applications, and an increased demand for power stacks depending on the type of application and the customers’ experience with power electronics.

AV: Even while there are these big growing markets boosting power electronics and technology development, there are the conventional power markets for motor drives and UPS, which still account for the largest part of the inverter market. How will these markets evolve over time? Do you think that they will be pushed by the technology or is electrification the main driver here?

MN: Industrial applications will continue to be a focus for Danfoss, and we expect these markets to continue to have high volumes despite a lower growth compared to EV and charging markets.

We expect to see a technology spill-over from automotive into industrial applications following the high demands and volumes from e-mobility. In other words, we expect the automotive segment to become the key driver for power module technology development going forward, but that the advances will spread to other segments with time. We are consistently working on transferring the latest technologies from automotive and applying them in industrial and renewable applications when it makes sense.

We especially expect this spill-over in drive applications with high demands and load profiles. As an example, elevator and crane applications will benefit significantly from technologies already used in Automotive, such as Danfoss Bond Buffer®.

AV: Danfoss is boosting the introduction of SiC in Power Inverters for different applications. According to you, which would be the main target segments today for this material? And in five years?

MN: Danfoss’ aim is to be preferred choice for custom SiC power modules globally.

Developing competences around SiC takes time because it does require different module packaging techniques than traditional IGBT modules. That is the reason why we have established an SiC Competence Center in Munich, Germany, focusing solely on SiC in power modules and stacks.

The most well-known applications for SiC are HEV/EV main inverters, DC fast charging, UPS, solar and battery storage, and I do not expect this to be very different in 5 years. However, the volumes of SiC in these various applications will grow significantly.

AV: What is the general product roadmap for Danfoss over the next five years?

MN: Danfoss will continue with our well-defined strategy. This means we will continue to build custom IGBT and SiC power modules and stacks and we will be further developing our DCM technology platform for the automotive segment. We will also expand the IPM/Stacks business in existing segments as well as looking to new segments.

We will continue to research in WBG, working closely with Universities and other research institutions on technology and process development.

We invite all to follow us on our journey on either LinkedIn or stay informed on our website siliconpower.danfoss.com


Interviewee

Mette Nordstrom has worked for Danfoss Silicon Power for the past 6 years, where she started as Strategic Marketing Manager and is now Director: Strategy, Marketing & Communications. Prior to this, Mette gained experience as a Strategic Business Consultant for the Danfoss Refrigeration & A/C Division.  She has a Masters in Strategy and Management from Aarhus Business School in Denmark.

Interviewer

Ana Villamor, PhD serves as a Technology & Market Analyst, Power Electronics & Compound Semiconductors within the Power & Wireless division at Yole Développement (Yole). She is involved in many custom studies and reports focused on emerging power electronics technologies at Yole Développement, including device technology and reliability analysis (MOSFET, IGBT, HEMT, etc). In addition, Ana is leading the quarterly power management market updates released in 2017. Previously Ana was involved in a high-added value collaboration related to SJ Power MOSFETs, within the CNM research center for the leading power electronic company ON Semiconductor. During this partnership and after two years as Silicon Development Engineer, she acquired a relevant technical expertise and a deep knowledge of the power electronic industry. Ana is author and co-author of several papers as well as a patent. She holds an Electronics Engineering degree completed by a Master in micro and nano electronics, both from Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (SP).

Related report

Status of the Inverter Industry 2019
Motor drive still powers the inverter market, with EV/HEV positively impacting overall market dynamics.

Source: http://www.yole.fr/, https://www.danfoss.com/

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