Date of Award

Fall 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical Engineering

First Advisor

Demerdash, Nabeel A.

Second Advisor

Wei, Lixiang

Third Advisor

Ababei, Cristinel


Adjustable speed drives (ASDs) have been extensively used in industrial applications over the past few decades because of their benefits of energy saving and control flexibilities. However, the wider penetration of ASD systems into industrial applications is hindered by the lack of health monitoring and fault-tolerant operation techniques, especially in safety-critical applications. In this dissertation, a comprehensive portfolio of health condition monitoring and fault-tolerant operation strategies is developed and implemented for multilevel neutral-point-clamped (NPC) power converters in ASDs. Simulations and experiments show that these techniques can improve power cycling lifetime of power transistors, on-line diagnosis of switch faults, and fault-tolerant capabilities.The first contribution of this dissertation is the development of a lifetime improvement Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) method which can significantly extend the power cycling lifetime of Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistors (IGBTs) in NPC inverters operating at low frequencies. This PWM method is achieved by injecting a zero-sequence signal with a frequency higher than that of the IGBT junction-to-case thermal time constants. This, in turn, lowers IGBT junction temperatures at low output frequencies. Thermal models, simulation and experimental verifications are carried out to confirm the effectiveness of this PWM method. As a second contribution of this dissertation, a novel on-line diagnostic method is developed for electronic switch faults in power converters. Targeted at three-level NPC converters, this diagnostic method can diagnose any IGBT faults by utilizing the information on the dc-bus neutral-point current and switching states. This diagnostic method only requires one additional current sensor for sensing the neutral-point current. Simulation and experimental results verified the efficacy of this diagnostic method.The third contribution consists of the development and implementation of a fault-tolerant topology for T-Type NPC power converters. In this fault-tolerant topology, one additional phase leg is added to the original T-Type NPC converter. In addition to providing a fault-tolerant solution to certain switch faults in the converter, this fault-tolerant topology can share the overload current with the original phase legs, thus increasing the overload capabilities of the power converters. A lab-scale 30-kVA ASD based on this proposed topology is implemented and the experimental results verified its benefits.