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ZUG3021 – Power Electronics

Undergraduate – Module

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this module is offered.


Business, Engineering and Technology


South Africa
On-campus block of classes

  • Semester 2, 2020 (Mainstream Programme)
  • Semester 2, 2021 (Extended Programme)

8 credits, NQF Level 7


The overall aim of this module is to provide the student with an in-depth understanding into the principles of operation and application of power electronic semiconductor devices. It includes the operation of high power solid state switching devices, rectifiers, choppers, inverters and frequency converters, whilst the basic control configurations of AC and DC motors is also included.


On completion of the module, students will be expected to be able to:

1Understand the operation of power electronic semiconductor devices such as: Power diodes, power transistors and thyristor.
2Explain the losses incurred during switching and the need for cooling devices.
3Analyse the operation of single, three phase and 12 pulse controlled rectifiers using circuit and waveform diagrams, calculate voltages and currents.
4Analyse the operation of a DC chopper, draw the equivalent circuit of a chopper and illustrate the various methods of commutating a thyristor.
5Analyse the operation of single and three phase inverters, analyse generic power electronic circuits, e.g. switch mode power supplies.
6Perform a Fourier analysis of a distorted sine wave and explain the adverse effects of harmonics.
7Consider practical power electronic design considerations: Filter design and analyse for filtering of harmonics, snubber circuits, gate drive circuits, temperature control.
8Explain and analyse the speed control of a DC motor, the function of feedback control systems and analysis of performance.
9Explain and analyse the speed control of an AC motor, the function of feedback control systems and analysis of performance.
10Explain and analyse constant voltage and current voltage inverter as well as stepper motor drives.


Coursework assessment: 40%
Final Examination: 60%

Workload requirements

Understanding the fundamentals and use of high power electronic devices and circuits is an essential requirement to support further study in electrical and electronic engineering. Knowledge on the effect that high power electronic devices can have on peripheral systems such as power distribution and the adverse effects of distorting on the quality of electricity supply are required for further study into specialist engineering fields.

To reinforce learning the following design and synthesis tools will be applied: National Instruments Multisim is a powerful tool used to simulate and prototype power electronics circuit designs. Multisim has large database of configurable power component models along with existing SPICE models from various semiconductor manufacturers. The powerful Multisim simulation enables the evaluation of different power circuits of different ratings at an early design stage. You can use models for IGBT and MOSFET switches, electro-mechanical components, different active and passive components, and switching controllers to accurately evaluate power electronics systems. All outcomes will be assessed by means of laboratory work, class tests and a final examination.

Chief examiner(s)





Digital Electronics, Analogue Electronics



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