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Regenerative Programmable DC Power Supplies Boost Test Efficiency

December 1, 2023

Rapid evolution in industries ranging from power and energy to automotive and transportation requires the utmost in efficient, reliable, and accurate test equipment, including programmable power products. A regenerative programmable DC power supply can be the ideal choice for testing products such as battery packs, solar panels, fuel cells, and electric powertrains—it feeds power generated during tests back to the grid instead of dissipating it as heat. Such a supply can also test conventional DC motors and devices ranging from high-power fuses to circuit breakers.

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When choosing such a product, you will want to ensure it has a fast response and a sufficient power rating to handle present and foreseeable future requirements. AMETEK Programmable Power’s latest programmable-power product—the intelligent-Bidirectional Energy AMplified (i-BEAM) regenerative programmable DC power supply—offers fast dynamic response and high stability to switch between source and sink modes seamlessly, and it can regenerate 96% of recovered energy back to the grid.

A single i-BEAM system can deliver up to 650 kW at voltages up to 1,000 V and currents up to ±1,000 A, while a parallel system can deliver up to 1.3 MW at voltages up to 1,000 V and currents up to ±2,000 A, with full-scale accuracy better than 0.1%. Because these cabinet-based systems achieve such high power ratings with one or two units, they offer higher levels of reliability compared with a system that parallels eight or more rack-mount units to achieve the same power level.


Flexible configurations

In addition to power rating, consider flexibility with respect to channel count and other options when choosing a power supply. i-BEAM systems come in one-, two-, and four-channel versions, with multichannel versions able to share power up to 2 MW over an internal DC bus. Multiple independent channels can be paralleled to meet higher current requirements (Figure 1).

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Figure 1. You can parallel multiple i-BEAM channels to achieve higher currents.

In addition, i-BEAM is available with dedicated battery simulation and testing options, and it can simulate energy-storage devices at various points in their lifetimes. For example, the programmable internal resistance enables the i-BEAM to simulate the equivalent series resistance (ESR) of a battery pack from ‑10mΩ to +1,000mΩ. This enables the simulation of ESR increasing over the battery life cycle.

You can also choose flexible power distribution units that let you locate the i-BEAM system in a separate room from the DUT, which may be isolated in a test cell, thermal chamber, or in a potentially hazardous environment. To ensure accuracy with systems deployed in this manner, a remote-sensing feature compensates for voltage drops up to 5% of the system’s nominal voltage value in long load lines. Other options include power-distribution switchboards that let one i-BEAM system switch between multiple test cells.


Easy to use

The i-BEAM system is also easy to use. It comes with a 15-inch color front-panel touchscreen display that lets you set up current, voltage, and power levels, as well as current and voltage ramps. For instance, you can also set Undervoltage limits to prevent a deep discharge condition that could damage a battery under test.

The user interface includes a login feature that sets various levels of permissions for up to 10 specific users. A Virtual Network Computing (VNC) Ethernet interface allows you to transfer the front-panel display to a remote computer, and you can optionally grant permission for AMETEK Programmable Power’s service personnel to access the system remotely for application support or maintenance. i‑BEAM also offers a variety of communication and control interface options ranging from high-speed analog to high-speed CAN. Finally, the i-BEAM system provides various safety features, including overvoltage and undercurrent protection, a front-panel stop button, and an optional protection unit that can discharge energy stored in a DUT when the i-BEAM is turned off. Other options range from door interlocks to insulation-resistance monitoring. It is also short-circuit proof and designed for safety in accordance with ISO 13849-1.


Application details

For details on applying the i-BEAM systems, see our white paper, which describes using them to provide motor test with regenerative energy recovery. The paper also describes simultaneous cycle test of two batteries with two i-BEAM channels sharing regenerated DC power, an i-BEAM option that lets you switch between battery-simulation and battery-test modes, and a fuel-cell test application with an i-BEAM system operating only in current-sink mode. Finally, the paper describes a multichannel system simultaneously performing three different types of tests.

AMETEK Programmable Power offers a full line of programmable products for the aerospace and defense, automotive and transportation, commercial, energy and power generation, and semiconductor industries. Regenerative and nonregenerative AC sources, nonregenerative DC supplies, electronic loads, and custom engineered systems complement the i-BEAM, making AMETEK Programmable Power your one-stop shop for all your programmable power needs.

For a quick overview of the i-BEAM system’s features and capabilities, view our video. For complete product details, visit the i-BEAM Product Page and read the i-BEAM data sheet.