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PhD Doctorant M/F Title: Life cycle value optimization of Power Electronics: toward best scenario for circularity

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Français - Anglais

Date Limite Candidature : jeudi 28 octobre 2021

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General information

Reference : UMR5269-NADMIC-010
Workplace : GRENOBLE
Date of publication : Thursday, October 7, 2021
Scientific Responsible name : CREBIER - Jean-Christophe G2Elab , PERRY Nicolas I2M
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 January 2022
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

Context :
The energy and climate transition establishes the electricity vector instead of fossil fuels. Power Electronics (EP) shape the electrical energy providing the link between sources and loads. EP is very present in the systems around us, providing functions that are difficult to do without today, especially for the production of Renewable Energies such as photovoltaic or wind power, but also at the level of usage with different types of electrical mobility, air conditioning in buildings, power supply for digital systems ... This trend of accelerating the use of electronics will make EP a major consumer of raw materials and a major contributor in volumes of electronic waste produced by our companies. While end-of-life recycling can reduce the pressure on the extraction of raw materials by reintroducing part of the recycled materials into the value chain, the prospect of reuse of certain subsystems or components, even partial, is essential (Fig1). . However, for re-use in EP to be considered, it must: guarantee a high level of reliability and robustness and seize the opportunity of a continuous supply of services for the use of designed goods, at first glance, with a high level of repairability and by anticipating preservation of the devices' residual value.
To answer this real problem, 5 partners, 3 academics and 2 from industry sector have joined forces within the framework of the ANR VIVAE project. The objective of the 42-month project is to study and make conceptual, methodological and technological contributions to promote the exploitation and extraction of residual value from static converters, upstream of the recycling phase. This involves delaying the recycling which corresponds to a crushing of the components and therefore to a total functional loss as well as a significant material loss by dissipation of the material, or even the export of material flows outside the European Union. The G-SCOP, I2M and G2Elab laboratories will bring their respective expertise to meet the methodological and technological challenges of the project. The companies EATON and OSCARO-POWER will bring their technical expertise in the field, while comparing the developments carried out in the laboratory with the realism of the world of industry in relation to all the players in the value chain concerned. To meet the challenges of the project, the research team will be structured around two recruitments for a thesis (36 months) and two post-docs (12 months) and around ten interns on an end-of-study project. This thesis falls within this framework with the ambition of revisiting the design of static converters to promote disassembly techniques for optimal recovery at end of life.
Research topic :
The work of the PhD student will be focused in the coupled development of products and processes for the recovery of the subsystems and components of a power converter whose functional and material values have been deemed interesting according to economic, societal and environmental factors.

To achieve this objective, a first analysis of the architecture of this type of system will be carried out, by studying, on the one hand, the opportunities for modularity and standardization and, on the other hand, the way of physically exploiting this product segmentation to allow simple and effective repair of items with high residual value (economic, material, energy content) at the end of their life. New repair routes will have to be considered to extend the life of these products, while seeking to minimize the environmental impacts generated at each stage.
This work will link design choices and solutions through modularity to the circularity / repair efficiency of this type of product. However, this modularity implies constraints: i) of design (combining the electrical performance of the system and the performance of the architectures and connections between subsystems and sub-components); ii) disassembly (impacted by disassembly solutions and their effects on the disassembled component (s)) and, iii) market (driven by needs in components or subsystems still necessary for repair or production and the existence of stocks and suppliers / brokers of these components).
The models and technico-economic-environmental criteria will determine the values associated with the different elements of the power converter, thus feeding the decision to recover or recycle these elements, constrained by the recovery facilities.
The economic and environmental values will depend on the quality and performance of the recovered component (s) or sub-part (s) and the complexity of the process implemented to recover it. We will then seek to propose solutions (physical and digital) in design that facilitate both an assembly process and a disassembly process that does not degrade elements of high functional or material value. These component disassembly / recovery solutions will need to be agile to adapt to different types of power converters.

In order to be able to offer the salvaged items as solutions for making new products or as repair items, it will be necessary to know and master the performance and characteristics of the salvaged "used" components. This work will also attempt to establish qualification requirements to guide the diagnostic and physical or digital testing steps before, during or after disassembly.
The value of second-life components also depends on stakeholders and the entire value chain (brokers, logistics, etc.), the market (demand, price, etc.) and the ability to connect and identify components for uses (Market places). This work will define the data structure (linked to product data, information on the lifespan and the end-of-life process ...) by projecting on the necessary links to go to real solutions for recovery / re-use. use of components (not excluding recycling options) and their associated business models.
3 guidelines will serve to guide this thesis work, and can be carried out in parallel:
1. Work on the product and revisit product architecture solutions by pushing modular and standardization approaches, considering the constraints of assembly / disassembly - repair - recovery of high added value elements (see illustration below ). This will involve developing a typical functional specification for the product and the associated constraints.
Indeed, one of the obstacles will lie in the identification of the technical, economic and environmental limits of such an approach seeking the point of balance between a completely modular vision (LEGO® approach) and a fully integrated solution (as currently) ( Fig. 2).
It will then be a question of proposing practical solutions to generate life cycle inventories, and to test the effects of these industrial process scenarios "in practice".
2. Work on disassembly solutions and the automated diagnostic / disassembly / qualification process, supplemented by an information acquisition approach during the process to optimize operations on components with the highest residual values. This will involve developing a typical functional specification for the disassembly line, and the associated constraints. Then to propose practical solutions to generate life cycle inventories and to test the effects of these industrial process scenarios “in practice”.
One of the obstacles is to formalize the constraints associated with end-of-life processes to feed the optimized design of power converter product families. A second lock is linked to the need to adapt to the realities of different products (in their morphology or their history) and a search for robust, efficient processes but also at low relative costs (economic and environmental - via the second doctoral work). ). This adaptation to the constraints of reality, potentially unanticipated a priori, requires iterative work "modeling-development-measurement-readjustment".

3. Work on the analysis of the value chain and stakeholders coupled with the definition of information structures and exchange capacities between these actors to build recovery channels for recovered elements or repaired converters. This information system must also be fed from the start of the definition of the product to interact with the various assessments (among others environmental results from the work of the second thesis work) to have a product / process / process / organization approach in where technical / economic and environmental performance assessments are constructed and shared.

Organization of the thesis:
Thesis location shared between the Grenoble and Bordeaux laboratories, ideally in a balanced manner (to be discussed according to the candidate's personal constraints).
Exchanges with manufacturers located in the Grenoble region are to be included in the thesis provisional calendar, depending on the periods of presence in Grenoble or Bordeaux.

Ideal profile sought:
Skills in: mechatronics and engineering design, industrial engineering, electrical engineering & power electronics, co-botics / robotics,
The expected candidate will have to demonstrate skills in two or more of these skills.

The thesis context falls within the framework of the circular economy. The candidate should show an interest in environmental issues, in the issue of sustainability, with a sensitivity in eco-design and in environmental impact analysis tools.

Recruitment will consist of two stages: the first will be the evaluation of applications on the basis of the CVs received by email, then a hearing of the applications selected for the second stage, where the candidate will have the opportunity to discuss with the supervisory team in presenting his project.

Work Context

The thesis work takes place within the framework of the ANR VIVAE project which brings together several academic and industrial partners. The thesis is co-supervised by researchers and professors from the following three laboratories: I2M, G2ELab and G-SCOP. Industrial partners contribute to the smooth running of the thesis. The doctoral student must participate in the drafting of reports in connection with the justification of the collaborative research project.

Constraints and risks

The thesis takes place in part in the Electrical Engineering laboratory of Grenoble in connection with the use of electrical energy. If it is necessary for the conduct of experimental work, the candidate will be trained via an electrical accreditation for the premises of the laboratory.

Additionally, the PhD will be carried out in two different labs in France, one located in Grenoble and the other one located in Bordeaux. The candidate will have to live and move from one place to the other one or two times over the PHD period.

Additional Information


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