White Goods Get Greener

According to the US Department of Energy, appliances account for about 17% of a household’s energy consumption. Major appliances like refrigerators and clothes washers and dryers are at the top of the consumption list.

With programs like Energy Star helping consumers understand that the operating cost is just as important a consideration as the price tag, manufacturers are rising to the energy consumption challenge.

For several years now, Infineon, the world market leader in semiconductor discretes and modules for power electronics, has used SOI to help product designers tackle one of the biggest energy challenges in major appliances: motor control. (For more about this SOI-based technology, see Infineon’s article in ASN#7)

Now, the energy efficiency of Infineon’s SOI-based power products is at the heart of a new joint venture with LS Industrial Systems. Announced in June of this year, the LS Power Semitech Co., Ltd. JV will focus on the development, production and marketing of energy-efficient molded power modules for major household appliances, known in the trade as white good applications.


SOI in control

The SOI-enabled CIPOS™ (Control Integrated Power System) modules are designed to enable more energy-efficient operation of such consumer appliances as washing machines, refrigerators and air conditioners. The external dimensions for the RoHS-compliant package shown here are 50.4mm x 30.2mm. (Courtesy: Infineo

Infineon will provide the joint venture with licenses to IP as well as technology and process know-how on its power module family CIPOS™ (Control Integrated Power System). CIPOS power modules increase the energy efficiency and reliability of home appliance motors. For an appliance designer, this can eliminate as many as 23 discrete components compared to a design based on discrete components.

The CIPOS modules incorporate a three-phase inverter power stage with an SOI gate driver, bootstrap diodes and capacitors, and auxiliary circuitry in a compact, high-performance, fully isolated package.

The SOI-based gate driver is the critical link between the control system and the power system. The driver IC takes a logic signal output from a microcontroller chip in the control system, and provides the appropriate current and voltage to turn power devices on and off. As such, it has to be extremely robust, yet very cost-competitive.

2010 volume launch

Infineon and LS Industrial Systems indicate that the establishment of the joint venture paves the way for them to more rapidly access the promising market for energy efficient household appliances, and also for other low-power consumer and standard industrial applications.

The LS Power Semitech Co., Ltd. JV headquarters and manufacturing site is in Cheonan, south of Seoul. The parent companies say they will closely cooperate in terms of marketing, international sales, and new product developments. Mass production of the CIPOS modules begins in Cheonan in January 2010.

For LS Industrial Systems, this SOI-enabled JV is a perfect fit for its global, “Low Carbon, Green Growth” strategy.

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