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Ben blogs about Astrolkwx’s successful customized solutions

Close up of a rectifier

A closer look at our services and approach 

As I approach retirement, I’ve been tasked with delving a bit deeper into how Astrolkwx operates and the comprehensive range of services we provide. Doing so I’m aiming to outline our identity while sharing my closing thoughts after a wonderful career at Astrolkwx. 

I’m happy to take on this task because our recent solutions have garnered many successes in the market. We have helped our customers to realize topologies and actualize power system designs that meet their needs. 

Our approach involves close collaboration with our suppliers and customers, ensuring seamless integration of cutting-edge technologies. To offer a clearer picture, I’ll be sharing insights into some of the projects we’ve undertaken and those on our horizon. 

I hope this interests you and motivates you to reach out to us. We kindly start the discussion on how to collaborate towards solutions for your specific power electronics related challenges. 

Our range of solid-state DC breakers 

The perfect example of how we like to work

Approximately 10 years ago, key figures in the Dutch maritime industry forecasted a significant shift towards large-scale electrification as a clear directive for constructing future ships in a more sustainable manner.

At that time, there was a high probability that electrification would evolve towards DC systems, necessitating proper fault protection. 

Following intensive discussions with a selected group of maritime experts, we confirmed the above assertion and framed the main requirements, including current and voltage ratings, speed, communication protocols, and certification. These requirements served as the trigger for Astrol (at that time still or most important supplier) to commence the development of a range of solid-state DC breakers. 

Solid-state DC breaker

The market introduction of the solid-state DC breakers started 5 years ago and the successes that followed affirmed the predictions and expectations from 10 years prior. Esteemed system integrators worldwide standardized our solution. This is a testament to its efficacy and reliability. 

Our next focus is to actualize a second-generation of the solid-state DC breaker. Encouraged by growing market prospects, we see sustained growth in the years ahead, as hybrid DC electrification becomes the standard in modern maritime architecture. 

More about our solid-state DC breaker

Learn more about how our solid-state DC breakers offer optimal protection for your DC grid or view all our available solid-state DC breakers in our product catalog.

More information about our IGBT based solid-state DC Breaker for marine applications

Liquid cooled Isolated 3 phase rectifier for maritime applications 

Another example of a success story

What originated as a customized solution in response to a demand for a high-power, liquid-cooled, isolated, remarkably compact, and easily deployable (plug and play) rectifier, has since transitioned into a well-established product within our catalogue. Widely embraced across various sectors, notably within maritime environments. This rectifier stands as a perfect example of versatility and utility. 

In maritime applications, the rectifier takes on the critical role of rectifying the power generated by AC sources, thereby supplying the vessel’s DC bus with reliable and efficient power. 

Noteworthy features

  • Dimensions: LxHxW = 429 x 253 x 290 mm 
  • Weight: 28 kg. 
  • DC current max. 3.500 A 
  • DC voltage max. 1.500 V 
  • Cooling by tap water 
  • Alarm- and trip temperature sensors 
  • Tested at 8 Bar water pressure 

 

Ben takes a closer look at our services and approach - liquid cooled rectifier

Together with Littelfuse we finished the design of this rectifier approximately fifteen years ago and its widespread adoption is evident. Deployed in numerous applications, with several hundred units commissioned. Visit our dedicated page to learn more about our liquid cooled rectifier.

Its most remarkable deployment remains aboard the Sleipnir: recognized as the world’s largest crane vessel. Sixteen of our rectifiers are tasked with powering the DC bus aboard this colossal vessel. 

Sleipnir

Air cooled isolated 3 phase rectifier for traction applications 

Another remarkable achievement lies in the development of our air-cooled isolated rectifier. Jointly engineered with Littelfuse (formerly Westcode) and in collaboration with a leading rail manufacturer. The rectifier is integrated into the train platform of the French Railways. 

The task at hand involved crafting an exceptionally compact, air-cooled, and isolated three-phase rectifier for incorporation into the ‘Power Pack’ of this platform.  

Due to high frequencies that can be generated around this rectifier, the diodes selected were tailored to strike a balance between fast response times and minimal on-state losses, ensuring optimal performance. 

To achieve isolation between the diodes and the heatsink (provided by MeccAl), presented a unique challenge. To address this, isolators in diode-housings were used to accomplish this, as depicted by the six components on the bottom side of the illustration. 

Distinctively, these casings feature Aluminum Nitride (AlNi) wafers, chosen for their dual properties of electrical insulation and thermal conductivity. Each pair of isolators at the bottom and diode on top can be clamped with the same mounting force. This strategic choice ensures uniform clamping force across each diode, enhancing stability and efficiency. 

Since the initial design phase, thousands of these rectifiers have been seamlessly integrated and successfully commissioned. 

Blocking diodes for maritime shore connections 

pathograph shore powered vessel

With the exponential increase in battery utilization as an energy source aboard vessels, the demand for charging infrastructure and equipment has surged significantly. Take, for instance, the growing fleet of fully electric ferries, where batteries undergo recharging each time they dock. During loading and unloading operations, shore connections are established, facilitating the recharging process. 

To safeguard against potential fault conditions originating onboard from impacting shore equipment, robust and dependable blocking diodes are required. 

The market demand is high, and we are actively working on the implementation of multiple tailored solutions, requiring blocking diodes capable of handling load currents ranging from 1 to 3 kA. 

DC to DC converters for marine, and other, DC systems 

Astrolkwx is always open to product portfolio expansion, particularly targeting applications within DC systems. 

Almost every maritime DC grid requires conversion to interconnect different DC voltage levels. Recognizing this demand, we are currently in the advanced stages of finalizing arrangements with a highly reputable and proficient source for the development of a comprehensive range of DC-DC converters.  

Characterized by a modular design housed within 19-inch cabinets, this range has an optional inclusion of galvanic isolation, and should cover a wide range of applications. 

While these converters are not yet available, they exemplify our ongoing commitment to strengthen our presence and facilitating the accessibility of essential DC components. 

Further details will follow soon! 

Discover our comprehensive solutions 

What I highlighted above represents just a fraction of our offerings. Our portfolio of solutions is tailored to various markets, as elaborated in the articles on our website. We are motivated to take up any power electronics challenge. 

I extend an invitation to put our capabilities to the test, confident in our ability to deliver exemplary solutions tailored to your specific needs. 

A bittersweet goodbye 

I will be departing from Astrolkwx by the end of March 2024, concluding a career spanning nearly 45 years in the power electronic market.

I am more than happy to see that the timing could not be better for me. However, also just a little bit painful because it is with a sense of regret that I recognize my departure from the team and future projects, as I will no longer be actively involved in their development.

Ben Tabak

Astrolkwx has established its position within rapidly changing, sustainability-focused markets through innovative solutions. The future looks promising, and I am confident that you will be in the capable hands of my colleagues.

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