Senior Design Team Works with Atom Power to Design Revolutionary Circuit Breaker

Date Published: 
Friday, January 29, 2016

Atom Power is a local company formed by UNC Charlotte College of Engineering graduate Ryan Kennedy.  Atom Power is in the process of developing a revolutionary new digital AC circuit breaker, which will be ready for production in late spring.  The digital design will trip the circuit breaker in 700 nanoseconds, 1,000 times quicker than a conventional mechanical circuit breaker, thus making the circuit breaker inherently safer than the conventional design.

In addition to improved safety the new design is versatile.  The initial circuit breakers will have a current capacity that can be adjusted from 10 to 50 amps.  In addition the circuit breaker will provide real time data about the circuit.  It will monitor voltage, current and internal temperature, providing the user with continuous status of the circuit.

In conjunction with this a senior design team is working with Atom Power to develop a similar circuit breaker for a DC circuit (called the Atom Switch DC).  The DC circuit breaker will draw upon the knowledge that Atom Power has learned in the development of the AC circuit breaker.  The DC circuit breaker will be design to break the circuit upon detection a fault current.

The design of the DC circuit breaker was completed last semester.  This semester will see the fabrication and testing of the prototype.  The DC breaker will be designed to be connected to a 380 VDC bus with connections for two DC source‚Äôs and a CAN communications bus. Designs will be made for an E-ink display to provide information about the panel.

The circuit breaker will consist of two dc/dc converters, two gate drives, 8 power MOSFETs, one current sensor, and two transient voltage suppression devices.

The breaker will be built and tested to insure that it meets the requirements for 600 VDC equipment class.  All NFPA and UL requirements will be followed.