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Staircase Modulated AC to AC Converter

Anshul Agarwal, Student Member, IEEE, and Vineeta Agarwal, Senior Member, IEEE

Abstract – Stair-case modulation technique, generally applied in II. PRINCIPLE OF OPERATION

multilevel inverter is now applied in AC to AC converter for Fig. 1 shows the power circuit of AC to AC converter that
reducing harmonics in the output for both cyclo-inverters as requires four bi-directional switches capable of blocking
well as for cyclo-converter mode. Simulation results are shown voltage and conducting current in both directions [11]. In the
for single-phase to single-phase matrix converter configuration absence of bidirectional switch module, the common emitter
using SIMULINK software. A relation has been obtained anti-parallel IGBT, with diode pair is used. The diodes
between the carrier frequency and output frequency for a given provide reverse blocking capability to the switch module. The
number of levels in staircase to obtain high fundamental output IGBT were used due to its high switching capabilities and
voltage and low distortion factor. The minimum total harmonic high current carrying capacities desirable for high-power
distortion factor (THD) obtained is 4.8 % for cyclo-inverter applications. The output can be synthesized by suitable
operation while for cyclo-converter operation it is only 3.12 %. toggling of the switches subject to the condition that ensures
the switches do not short-circuit the voltage sources, and do
Index Terms-- AC to AC converter, Stair case modulation, THD, not open-circuit the current sources.
Cyclo-inverter Thus for cyclo-inverter operation, say, the output
frequency is twice to that of input frequency, then for positive
I. INTRODUCTION input cycle if the output is positive switches S1a and S4a will

A N AC to AC converter (cyclo-converter /cyclo-

inverter) is a frequency changer that converts ac input
power at one frequency to ac output power at a different
conduct while for negative output switches S2a and S3a will
conduct. For negative input cycle if the output is positive
switches S2b and switches S3b will conduct while negative
frequency with one stage conversion. They are ideal for large half output of cyclo-inverter is obtained by conduction of the
ac motor drives, VSCF (variable speed constant frequency) switches S1b and S4b. Similarly, for cyclo-converter
operation if the output frequency is half of input frequency,
systems, high frequency induction heating, arc welding and
then for positive input cycle if the output is positive switches
plasma generation, power factor correction, industrial laser
S1a and S4a will conduct while for negative input cycle if the
drivers and so on. Eventual applications could range from output is positive switches S3b and S2b will conduct. The
power grid stabilizers to ion rocket drives. The output of the negative half output of cyclo-converter is obtained by
converter is rich in harmonics. The main challenge is how to conduction of the switches S2a and S3a and switches S4b and
remove these harmonics [1]. The conventional filtering S1b.
technique can’t be used as it will have problems in both In order to optimize the harmonics and to improve the
design and economical aspects when it is applied for a output of AC to AC converter, gate pulses to different IGBTs
variable frequency system. The solution for this is hence, the are modulated using stair case modulation technique and their
use of modulation techniques as they can be flexible. Some of performance is compared in terms of total harmonic
the techniques which are in use are sinusoidal PWM [2], delta distortion in the output [12].
modulation [3-6], space vector PWM [7] and trapezoidal
modulation [8-9]. A detail study has been made for cyclo-
inverter using different modulation techniques in [10]. In this
S1a S1b S2a S2b
paper the stair case modulation technique has been applied in
an AC to AC converter which is used for both step-up and
step-down operation. The performance of the converter is
evaluated in terms of total harmonic distortion (THD) factor.
S3a S3b S4a S4b

Anshul Agarwal and Vineeta Agarwal are with the Department of

Electrical Engineering, Motilal Nehru. National Institute of Technology,
Allahabad-211004, India (email:,
Fig. 1. Power circuit of AC to AC converter

978-1-4244-8542-0/10/$26.00 ©2010 IEEE

III. STAIRCASE MODULATION TECHNIQUE contains harmonics but THD reduces to 5 %. With further
This is a PWM technique based on the principle of increase in carrier frequency no significant reduction in THD
comparing a high frequency triangular wave, Vtri with a stair has been found and it is almost equal to 5%. If however the
case modulating waveform, Vm. This PWM pattern is levels in stairs are increased, THD reduces significantly as
optimized in order to obtain an acceptable output voltage well as the magnitude of the fundamental voltage increases.
spectrum over the full control range. The frequency and the At output frequency fo = 200 Hz (50 × 4) THD in the
fundamental component of the output voltage are output is found to be approx 10% as shown in Fig. 4. If the
independently controlled and they are proportional to the levels are increased say five, the THD in the output decreases
control voltages. for a carrier frequency of 3 KHz and now it is 6.5%. With
Fig. 2 shows the method to obtain the desired output further increase in output frequency fo = 600 Hz THD is
voltage waveform. The pattern of the triangular wave is approx 4.8% as shown in Fig. 5. The study has been made at
retained but the sine wave is replaced by a stair case different frequencies with different carrier frequency and
waveform. The stair case is not meant to represent a sampled different value of levels in stair. It has been observed that if
approximation to the sine wave. The modulation frequency the carrier frequency is approximately 15 times the output
ratio m = fc / fa and the number of steps are chosen to obtain frequency and number of levels is same as the value of Nr the
the desired quality of output voltage. This is an optimized THD is lowest while fundamental value of output voltage is
pulse width modulation technique [14]. highest. The maximum number of level is however five only.
After that the simulation takes infinite time.
MATLAB SIMULINK software and its facilities are used
to test the AC to AC converter loaded with resistive load. The
results of simulation are reported for different output
frequency taking different levels in stair case modulation.
The carrier frequency is varied from 1 KHz to 2 KHz
depending on the output frequency. All the results have been
taken at modulation index m =1.
A. Cyclo-inverter operation
Fig. 3 shows the output waveform of the converter along
with THD for fo = 100 Hz. It is shown that THD is
approximately 8% in this case. The number of level is kept
two while carrier frequency was 1 KHz. However when fC is
increased and say taken as 1.5 KHz, then the output though

Fig. 3. Output & THD of Cyclo-inverter for fo = 100 Hz.

Fig. 2. Staircase modulation technique Fig. 4. Output & THD of Cyclo-inverter for fo = 200 Hz.
Fig. 5. Output & THD of Cyclo-inverter for fo = 600 Hz

Fig. 8. Output & THD of Cyclo-converter for fo = 12.5 Hz

Fig. 6. Output & THD of Cyclo-inverter for fo = 750 Hz.

B. Cyclo-converter Operation
Fig. 7 shows the voltage and THD waveforms of cyclo-
converter with stair case modulation for an output frequency
of 25 Hz. In this case THD is coming out to be 3.12%. With
further reductions in output frequency, say now, fo = 12.5 Hz
THD obtained is 3.84% and for fo = 10 Hz THD comes out to Fig. 9 Output & THD of Cyclo-converter for fo = 10 Hz
be 4% as shown in Fig. 9 and finally for the output frequency
fo = 5 Hz the THD comes out to be 3.95% as shown in Fig.

Fig. 10. Output & THD of Cyclo-converter for fo = 5 Hz

Fig. 7. Output & THD of Cyclo-converter for fo = 25 Hz
Fig. 11 and Fig. 12 show the variation of THD with TABLE 2
different frequencies for staircase modulation technique for
cyclo-inverter and cyclo-converter. The THD varies in the
range of 5% to 10% for cyclo-inverter operation while for
cyclo-converter it is varies in the range of 3% to 4%. Switching Value Fundamental
S.N Frequency, of THD of Output Output Voltage
fc (Hz) level in Voltage in % (V)
1 1200 2 9.945 76.44
THD (%)

2 1500 2 5.853 97.91

0 3 2000 2 8.064 78.22

200 400 500 600 750

4 2000 3 8.032 78.03
Frequency (Hz)
5 2000 4 7.049 79.15

Fig. 11. Variation of THD with different frequencies for cyclo-inverter 6 3000 4 5.516 86.55
7 1200 2 6.011 181.2

8 1500 3 5.757 181.5
THD (%)

9 2000 4 4.799 184.2
1 10 1500 4 4.648 188.1
5 10 12.5 25 11 2000 5 4.068 189.6

Frequency (Hz) 12 2500 5 3.6516 192.6

Fig. 12. Variation of THD with different frequencies for cyclo-converter V. CONCLUSIONS
operation Stair case modulation scheme has been applied in AC to
AC converter. It has been found that for cyclo-inverter
operation it works well as minimum THD comes out to be
THD OF THE OUTPUT VOLTAGE OF CYCLO-CONVERTER 4.8% at modulation index, m = 1. The harmonic contents for
cyclo-converter operation also reduce when output frequency
is less then the input frequency. Thus, it can be concluded
S.N Frequency, level in THD of Output Output Voltage that SCM works satisfactory for cyclo-inverter and cyclo-
fc (Hz) Voltage in % (V) converter operation.

1 1200 2 6.011 181.2 VI. REFERENCES

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