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Old 7th November 2008, 05:11 AM   #1
star882 is offline star882  United States
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Default design exercise: inverter for Toyota Prius

For a little design exercise, design a large power inverter for a Toyota Prius. Some possible applications include allowing the Prius to double as an emergency generator, allow it to be used as a mobile power supply, etc. The following conditions apply:
1: Input is the 200v battery pack.
2: Output is 120v and/or 240v AC of at least 1kw (preferably 3kw or more) 60Hz sinewave.
3: The inverter must stay within regulation over the entire range of battery voltage.
4: The inverter should only power up when the car is on and ready to run the engine as needed.
5: The design will *NOT* actually be built. It is only a design exercise.

My thoughts:
* 200v is a good amount over the 170v peak of 120v AC, but I'm not sure how low it goes. If it doesn't go too low, a filtered H bridge should be enough for 120v. For 240v, a means to boost the voltage would be needed.
* The fact that a car would almost always be used on a more regular basis than a standalone generator means that problems would be caught earlier than with standalone generators. It's not uncommon for a standalone generator to break down unknowingly until the moment it is actually needed. In addition, the high power rating and very high peak rating would avoid issues when running large loads like central A/C or large commercial refrigeration.
* The idea can be extended. Think of a Prius as a very powerful mobile power supply and lots of ideas pop up. Businesses in particular might like the idea of being able to use something like a powerful arc welder without access to power.

Once again, it is only a design exercise and will *NOT* actually be built.
"Fully on MOSFET = closed switch, Fully off MOSFET = open switch, Half on MOSFET = poor imitation of Tiffany Yep." - also applies to IGBTs!
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Old 7th November 2008, 11:32 AM   #2
gmarsh is offline gmarsh  Canada
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Using the Prius as a mobile generator / power source is an interesting idea. I'll give you a 5 minute 'brain dump':

Safety things first: You'll want the AC ground connected to the car chassis ground. You'll also want "reasonable" voltages on the AC output connector - eg. neutral doesn't move from ground by more than a few volts, hot outputs are +-120V with respect to neutral, and about the same with respect to ground.

I suspect the Prius battery has one end connected to the chassis ground, so this means you won't be able to just H-bridge the Prius battery directly to an AC outlet. If the battery pack floats with respect to chassis, Toyota probably had reasons for doing that and you don't want to mess with it. So, your power supply will have to be isolated.

After that, it's 200V (+-whatever) -> AC with isolation. How this is designed is based entirely on your spec; voltages, weight, form factor, true sine or pseudo-sine, etc...
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Old 7th November 2008, 04:56 PM   #3
star882 is offline star882  United States
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Looks like someone already managed to use a Prius to extend the runtime of a large UPS.
"Fully on MOSFET = closed switch, Fully off MOSFET = open switch, Half on MOSFET = poor imitation of Tiffany Yep." - also applies to IGBTs!
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Old 11th November 2008, 07:05 PM   #4
dtproff is offline dtproff  United States
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OK... I have to admit to wanting to do this one for a while... Again just as an exercise... Too much current for me to want to it for real.

A voltage boost to 800V is probably doable though I would probably prefer 400V but the advantage of dropping the I2R losses and increasing the torque by going to 800V would probably pusk me that direction.

A tri or quad phase PFC boost arrangement would probably work pretty well for the battery pack front end since it would be running CCM mode. The Inverter design would probably be a two stage resonant full bridge LLC.

Anyway... just a thought.
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