As engineers, scientists and manufacturers strive to develop new commercial and consumer products to serve the rapidly expanding sustainable energy marketplace, product robustness and reliability should be carefully addressed. Electronic components introduced into alternative energy applications have little or no proven legacy designs showing they can withstand the abusive environments in which they are expected to operate. The industry is still considered to be in its infancy and suppliers whose product falls short in operational reliability face long term consequences in costs of failure, both in repair expense and reputation.
Power monitoring, conversion and control circuitry for alternative energy applications will be subjected to volatile environmental extremes – high winds, solar/geothermal heat, tidal forces – and face long-term stability expectations of 25 to 40 years or more. Traditional testing and predictive technology will fall short convincing investors of reliability performance when comparing risk with competing innovations having evidenced performance and survivability against such extremes.
New designs for sustainable energy applications can be effectively tested for endurance and reliability with the accelerated stresses delivered from HALT (Highly Accelerated Life Testing). HALT, a ESPEC Qualmark developed technology, is an advanced approach for determining product reliability that employs a combination of excessive thermal and vibration stresses that subjects devices to simultaneous, extreme stimulation which rapidly reveal design flaws and latent defects. Additionally, accelerated stress testing provides an opportunity to extend design margins by eliminating stress failures and result in significantly enhanced field reliability and performance.
Because renewable energy systems are typically built in relatively low quantities, often with some hand assembly, unit to unit process variances can be high. As a result, unacceptable levels of field failures can occur due to lack of process control. HASS can be the solution to controlling these problems, helping a company deliver on the promise of quality to suppliers.
ESPEC Qualmark technology is an excellent means of providing evidence of expected performance to potential investors and customers since accelerated stress testing makes known the true operational limits of the product, including subsystems and components. HALT and HASS can be a strategic ally in proving out overall performance, reliability and survivability of devices developed for the renewable energy marketplace.
ESPEC Qualmark customers have been selected by the renewable energy sector for placement of power electronics - inverters, chargers, charge controllers - in residential and commercial solar systems, industrial wind installations and other sustainable energy installations around the world.