ROHM Semiconductor brings SiC Technology to Formula E

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Venturi’s official technology partner, Rohm Semiconductor has helped the Formula E team through the supply of cutting-edge semiconductors for Power Management

Rohm Semiconductor presented its cutting-edge silicon carbide (SiC) technology at the first race of the new 2016/ 17 Formula E season in Hong Kong. At the start of season three, the leading Japanese semiconductor manufacturer started sponsoring and officially partnering with the Venturi Formula E team.

The collaboration between ROHM and Venturi in Formula E highlights the key to success in the all-electric racing series — power management. The challenge of Formula E is to find the most efficient way of using the energy provided by the battery and applying it on the road. To do this, ROHM developed new power device technology using silicon carbide.

This material can withstand much higher electric fields than conventional silicon, which results in extremely low losses of power and higher temperature resistance. Thus, ROHM and Venturi hope to gain an edge over the competition while also pushing forward the development of new technical solutions to increase power conversion efficiency.

Silicon carbide is a compound of silicon and carbon. It is produced using a crystal growth process of sublimation and exposure to high temperatures of about 2,000°C. Using this technology in power devices, ROHM, a leader in SiC applications, has achieved lower power consumption and more efficient operation. There are several benefits compared to conventional silicon:

SMALLER – System miniaturisation means reduced size and weight, which allows for improved weight distribution in motorsports and less power consumption in general. STRONGER – Devices with SiC can work with higher voltages and currents, which increases power density and reduces switching losses even under high temperatures. FASTER – The ultimate outcome of ROHM’s partnership with Venturi. The best performance and maximised probability of speed.

The inverter for season three features embedded SiC Schottky diodes, making it 2kg lighter than the inverter for season two. Electric efficiency has been increased by 1.7%, while the volume of heat extraction components has been reduced by 30%. But this is just a start. In season four, the SiC MOSFET integrated inverter will demonstrate drastic changes once again.

ROHM has been a leading developer of advanced SiC products and SiC power devices since 2010. In the automotive sector, an increasing number of EVs and inverters are adopting the use of SiC, and ROHM has already had an overwhelming market share of on-board chargers for rapid charging.

“We are very proud to be co-developing our powertrain with ROHM’s silicon carbide technology, which can be used to create a great solution for our inverters,” explained Franck Baldet, Chief Technology Officer of the Venturi Formula E team. “Formula E is all about power management, and the partnership with ROHM — the leader in power semiconductors — improves the overall electronics of our car so we can reach higher performance with our electric motors.”

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John joined UKi Media & Events in 2012 and has worked across a range of B2B titles within the company's automotive portfolio. Prior to joining the company, John worked for leading automotive design website, Car Design News. Currently editor of Engine Technology International, Professional MotorSport World, Professional MotorSport Circuit, and Transmission Technology International, John co-ordinates the day-the-day operations of each magazine, from commissioning and writing to editing and signing-off, as well managing web and social media content. Aside from the magazines, John also serves as chairman of the annual Professional MotorSport World Awards.

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