Groundbreaking KIT power supply boasts a 50-year lifetime

A novel, cutting-edge power supply pioneered by the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) has been demonstrated to have a lifetime of up to 50 years.

Digital Power Systems (DPS), a spinoff company of KIT, has developed and tested the revolutionary power supply, which not only offers half a century of use but also has increased stability, reliability and is more economically beneficial compared to its conventional predecessors. The innovation utilises film capacitors that promise to change the paradigm of the power supply landscape, offering a long-term, sustainable solution for a range of technologies.

Limitation of conventional power supply technology

Traditional switching power supplies are essential components of our daily life. The ubiquitous technology can be found in households, offices, or industries and is used to convert the alternating current supplied into direct current for laptops, smartphones, logistics, computing centres, and electric vehicle charging stations.

However, despite switching power supplies being light and compact, they carry a host of drawbacks. For example, they usually must be swapped out after nine years of permanent operation and are highly susceptible to break because of the electrolyte capacitors they contain.

An alternative to this issue is to use film capacitors that are longer-lasting, although they usually take up ten times more space. DPS has now developed a new method that reaps the benefits of film capacitors whilst only occupying a little space.

Michael Heidinger, the Director of DPS, explained: “We have now developed a digital control process, by means of which film capacitors can be used on smaller spaces. This technology is a game changer wherever reliability is important. These may be computing or logistics centres or flight safety lamps.”

Moreover, the DPS supply requires far less maintenance expenditure than regular power supplies, in which the work of service staff to replace damaged ones usually costs much more than the device itself.

Unprecedented 50-year capacity

The Digital Control Process of DPS enables the use of film capacitors with only a marginally increased space requirement, and a powerful microprocessor is integrated into the power supply for control purposes. The microprocessor detects disturbing ambient impacts and balances large voltage fluctuations of the film capacitor. This allows for the use of storage capacitors of smaller capacity.

In joint testing with KIT’s Light Technology Institute, results illuminated that the new power supply has a lifetime of 50 years at an ambient temperature of 40 degrees.

Heidinger commented: “This is about five times that of established power supplies. So far, no power supply has failed, and tests are being continued. We have not yet reached the limit.”

The power supply is already being utilised for air safety illumination, such as in lamps on stacks, wind turbines, or radio masts to warn aeroplanes.

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