Attention has been paid to reliability-related issues for dc-link capacitors such as monitoring methods, power-loss estimation, and ageing tests. The degradation of the capacitors depends on their operating condition including temperature, ripple current, and dc-bias voltage, which has a strong influence on failures as well. In design stages of power converters, it is desirable to know the relation between the degradation and electrolytic parameters. This paper makes an intensive discussion on the voltage dependence of the degradation of a small aluminum electrolytic capacitor with an ageing test and a leakage-current measurement. The ageing test reveals that a higher dc-bias voltage brings a faster increase in ESR but results in a slower drop in capacitance in a range within the rated voltage. This result implies that either capacitance or ESR cannot be a unique indicator of the lifetime. Attention should be paid both to the ESR and to the capacitance when one monitors the capacitor condition. On the other hand, more than the rated voltage leads a rapid degradation of the capacitor, which can be confirmed by a leakage-current measurement instead of the ageing test.
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