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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS, VOL. 57, NO. 11, NOVEMBER 2010

Harmonic Elimination of Cascade Multilevel


Inverters with Nonequal DC Sources Using
Particle Swarm Optimization
H. Taghizadeh and M. Tarafdar Hagh, Member, IEEE

AbstractIn this paper, the elimination of harmonics in a


cascade multilevel inverter by considering the nonequality of
separated dc sources by using particle swarm optimization is
presented. Solving a nonlinear transcendental equation set
describing the harmonic-elimination problem with nonequal dc
sources reaches the limitation of contemporary computer algebra
software tools using the resultant method. The proposed approach
in this paper can be applied to solve the problem in a simpler manner, even when the number of switching angles is increased and the
determination of these angles using the resultant theory approach
is not possible. Theoretical results are verified by experiments and
simulations for an 11-level H-bridge inverter. Results show that
the proposed method does effectively eliminate a great number of
specific harmonics, and the output voltage is resulted in low total
harmonic distortion.
Index TermsMultilevel inverter, particle swarm optimization
(PSO), selective harmonic elimination (SHE).

I. I NTRODUCTION

ULTILEVEL voltage-source inverters are a suitable


configuration to reach high power ratings and high quality output waveforms besides reasonable dynamic responses
[1][4]. Among the different topologies for multilevel converters, the cascaded multilevel inverter has received special
attention due to its modularity and simplicity of control
[5][7]. The principle of operation of this inverter is usually
based on synthesizing the desired output voltage waveform
from several steps of voltage, which is typically obtained from
dc voltage sources. There are different power circuit topologies
for multilevel converters. The most familiar power circuit topology for multilevel converters is based on the cascade connection
of an s number of single-phase full-bridge inverters to generate
a (2s + 1) number of levels. However, from the practical point
of view, it is somehow difficult to keep equal the magnitude of
separated dc sources (SDCSs) of different levels. This can be
caused by the different charging and discharging time intervals
of dc-side voltage sources [8].
To control the output voltage and to eliminate the undesired
harmonics in multilevel converters with equal dc voltages,
various modulation methods such as sinusoidal pulse width
Manuscript received June 28, 2009; revised October 7, 2009 and January 2,
2010; accepted January 5, 2010. Date of publication February 8, 2010; date of
current version October 13, 2010.
H. Taghizadeh is with the Islamic Azad University, Shabestar, Iran, and
also with Tabriz College of Technology, 5381637181 Tabriz, Iran (e-mail:
ha.taghizadeh@gmail.com).
M. Tarafdar Hagh is with the University of Tabriz, 5166616471 Tabriz, Iran
(e-mail: tarafdar@tabrizu.ac.ir).
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TIE.2010.2041736

modulation (PWM) and space-vector PWM techniques are


suggested [9], [10]. However, PWM techniques are not able to
eliminate lower order harmonics completely. Another approach
is to choose the switching angles so that specific higher order
harmonics such as the 5th, 7th, 11th, and 13th are suppressed
in the output voltage of the inverter. This method is known as
selective harmonic elimination (SHE) or programmed PWM
techniques in technical literature [11][13]. A fundamental
issue associated with such method is to obtain the arithmetic
solution of nonlinear transcendental equations which contain
trigonometric terms and naturally present multiple solutions.
This set of nonlinear equations can be solved by iterative
techniques such as the NewtonRaphson method [11][14].
However, such techniques need a good initial guess which
should be very close to the exact solution patterns. Furthermore,
this method finds only one set of solutions depending on the
initial guess. Therefore, the NewtonRaphson method is not
feasible to solve the SHE problem for a large number of
switching angles if good initial guesses are not available.
A systematic approach to solve the SHE problem based on
the mathematical theory of resultant is proposed in [15] and
[16], where transcendental equations that describe the SHE
problem are converted into an equivalent set of polynomial
equations and then the mathematical theory of resultant is
utilized to find all possible sets of solutions for this equivalent
problem.
This method is also applied to multilevel inverters with
unequal dc sources [17]. However, applying the inequality of dc
sources results to the asymmetry of the transcendental equation
set to be solved and requires the solution of a set of high-degree
equations, which is beyond the capability of contemporary
computer algebra software tools [16], [17]. In fact, the resultant
theory is limited to find up to six switching angles for equal
dc voltages and up to three switching angles for nonequal dc
voltage cases [16], [17].
More recently, the real-time calculation of switching angles
with analytical proof is presented to minimize the total harmonic distortion (THD) of the output voltage of multilevel
converters [18], [19]. However, the presented analytical proof
is only valid to minimize all harmonics including triples and
cannot be extended to minimize only nontriple harmonics that
are suitable for three-phase applications.
In [20], the harmonic elimination for multilevel converters
by a genetic algorithm (GA) approach is presented. However,
this method is only applied to equal dc sources and needs
considerable computational time. Moreover, this method has

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TAGHIZADEH AND TARAFDAR HAGH: HARMONIC ELIMINATION OF CASCADE MULTILEVEL INVERTERS

3679

described as follows:
V (t) =

4Vdc
n
n=1,3,5,...
(k1 cos(n1 ) + k2 cos(n2 ) + k3 cos(n3 )
+ + ks cos(ns )) sin(nt)

(1)

where ki Vdc is the ith dc voltage, Vdc is the nominal dc voltage,


and the switching angles 1 m must satisfy the following
condition:
0 1 2 s
Fig. 1. (a) Topology of a single-phase cascaded inverter. (b) Staircase output
phase voltage.

not succeeded to find switching angles for some modulation


indexes which have solutions. Reference [21] presented modern
stochastic search techniques based on particle swarm optimization (PSO) to deal with the problem for equal dc sources.
In this paper, the PSO approach is developed to deal with
the SHE problem with unequal dc sources while the number
of switching angles is increased and the determination of these
angles using conventional iterative methods as well as the
resultant theory is not possible. In addition, for a low number
of switching angles, the proposed PSO approach reduces the
computational burden to find the optimal solution compared
with iterative methods and the resultant theory approach. The
proposed method solves the asymmetry of the transcendental
equation set, which has to be solved in cascade multilevel
inverters.
Simulation and experimental results are provided for an
11-level cascaded multilevel inverter to show the validity of the
proposed method.
II. P OWER T OPOLOGY OF C ASCADE
M ULTILEVEL I NVERTERS
Fig. 1(a) shows the structure of a single-phase H-bridge cascaded multilevel converter topology that is used to synthesize
a 2s + 1 staircase output waveform. Fig. 1(b) also shows the
staircase voltage waveform generated by multilevel converters.
A cascaded H-bridge multilevel converter consists of some
SDCS. The advantage of this topology is that the modulation,
control, and protection requirements of each bridge are modular. It should be pointed out that, unlike the diode-clamped and
flying-capacitor topologies, isolated dc sources are required for
each cell in each phase.
The number of output-phase-voltage levels in a cascade
multilevel inverter is 2s + 1, where s is the number of SDCSs.
To obtain the three-phase configuration, the outputs of three
single-phase cascaded inverters can be connected in Y or .
III. H ARMONIC -E LIMINATION P ROBLEM W ITH
N ONEQUAL DC S OURCES
By applying Fourier series analysis, the staircase output
voltage of multilevel inverters with nonequal sources can be

.
2

(2)

The number of harmonics which can be eliminated from the


output voltage of the inverter is s 1. For example, to eliminate
the fifth-order harmonic for a five-level inverter, equation set (3)
must be satisfied. Note that the elimination of triple harmonics
for the three-phase power system applications is not necessary,
because these harmonics are automatically eliminated from the
lineline voltage

k1 cos(1 ) + k2 cos(2 ) = (/2)M
(3)
k1 cos(51 ) + k2 cos(52 ) = 0.
In (3), modulation index M is defined as M = V1 /sVdc and
V1 is the fundamental of the required voltage.
IV. PSO
Kennedy and Eberhart first introduced PSO in 1995 as a new
heuristic method [22]. Basically, the PSO was inspired by the
sociological behavior associated with swarms such as flocks of
birds and schools of fish. The individuals in the population are
called particles. Each particle is a potential solution for the optimization problem and tries to search the best position through
flying in a multidimensional space. The sociological behavior
which is modeled in the PSO system is used to guide the
swarm, hence probing the most promising areas of search space.
Each particle is determined by two vectors in D-dimensional
search space: the position vector Xi = [xi1 , xi2 , . . . , xiD ] and
the velocity vector Vi = [vi1 , vi2 , . . . , viD ]. Each particle in the
swarm refines its search through its present velocity, previous
experience, and the experience of the neighboring particles.
The best position of particle i found so far is called personal
best and is denoted by Pi = [pi1 , pi2 , . . . , piD ], and the best
position in the entire swarm is called global best and is denoted
by Pg = [pg1 , pg2 , . . . , pgD ]. At first, the velocity of the ith
particle on the dth dimension is updated by using (4), and then,
(5) is used to modify the position of that particle
vid (t + 1) = [vid (t) + 1 r1 (pid xid (t))
+2 r2 (pgd xid (t))]
xid (t + 1) = xid (t) + vid (t + 1)

(4)
(5)

where 1 and 2 are the cogitative and social parameters,


respectively. In these equations, r1 and r2 are random values
uniformly distributed within [0, 1].

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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS, VOL. 57, NO. 11, NOVEMBER 2010

Moreover, in order to guarantee the convergence of the


PSO algorithm and improve the convergence characteristic, the
constriction factor is proposed and defined as [23], [24]
2k
,
= 


2 2 4

= 1 + 2 ; > 4.

(6)

V. F ORMULATING THE P ROBLEM


Let i = [i1 , i2 , . . . , is ] be a trial vector representing the
ith particle of the swarm to be evolved. The elements of i are
the solutions of the harmonic minimization problem, and the
dth element of that is corresponding to the dth switching angle
of the inverter. The step-by-step procedure to solve the SHE
problem with nonequal dc sources is as follows.
1) Get the data for the system. At the first step, the required
parameters of the algorithm such as population size M ,
maximum iteration number itermax , etc., are determined
and the iteration counter is set to iter = 1.
2) Generate the initial conditions of each particle. Each
particle in the population is randomly initialized between
0 and /2; similarly, the velocity vector of each particle
has to be generated randomly within Vmax and Vmax .
3) Evaluate the particles. Each particle is evaluated using
the fitness function of the harmonic minimization problem. The switching angles 1 , 2 , . . . , s in a multilevel
inverter for the output waveform can be calculated such
that odd and nontriple low-order harmonics up to the
3s 2th order while s is odd and up to the 3s 1th order
when s is even can be eliminated from the output phase
voltage of the inverter to minimize the cost function given
as follows:
f (1 , 2 , . . . , s )
 



|V5 |+|V7 |+ +|V3s2 or 3s1 |
|V1 | 

+
= 100 M
.
sVdc 
sVdc
(7)
4) Update the personal best position of the particles. If
the current position of the ith particle is better than
its previous personal best position, replace Pi with the
current position Xi . In addition, if the best position of the
personal bests of the particles is better than the position
of the global best, replace Pg with the best position of the
personal bests.
5) Update the velocity and position vectors. All particles
in the population are updated by velocity and position
update rules (4) and (5), respectively.
6) Termination criteria. If the iteration counter iter reaches
itermax , stop; else, increase the iteration counter iter =
iter + 1 and go back to step 3).
Continuing by an example, let us consider a five-level inverter for simplicity, which includes the series connection of
two H-bridge inverters. For this case, there are two SDCSs (one
for each bridge), the values of which are generally unequal.

Fig. 2. Landscape and contour plot for the five-level inverter and nonequaldc-source case, where M = 1, k1 = 1.05, and k2 = 0.88. (a) Landscape of
the problem. (b) Corresponding contour plot.

For the equal-dc-source case (k1 = k2 = 1), the problem


is symmetric [refer to (3)]. However, this symmetric manner for
the nonequal-dc-source case no longer takes place.
As an example, the magnitude of the dc source for the first
level is considered to be 105% of the nominal dc voltage
(k1 = 1.05) and 88% for the second level (k2 = 0.88). The
landscape of the problem and the contour plot for M = 1 are
shown in Fig. 2(a) and (b), respectively. As seen from Fig. 2,
the landscape of the problem is not symmetric. The solutions
for switching angles are also shown in Fig. 2(b).
For the considered nonequal dc sources (k1 = 1.05 and k2 =
0.88), the calculated switching angles by the PSO method and
the corresponding resulted costs are plotted with respect to the
modulation index M in Fig. 3. The number of generations that
evolve depends on whether an acceptable solution is reached
or a set number of iterations is exceeded. In this paper, the
maximum-number-of-iterations criterion is used to stop the
algorithm. Moreover, the threshold of the cost to accept a
solution is chosen to be 0.005. However, most of the time, the
resulted cost values reached by the algorithm is around 1012 ,
which is many times better than the reported results for the GA
method applied to the equal-dc-source case in [20].
By changing the dc-side voltage, the switching pattern has to
be recalculated but, if not, there will be considerable harmonics
in the output voltage waveform. For example, Fig. 4 shows the

TAGHIZADEH AND TARAFDAR HAGH: HARMONIC ELIMINATION OF CASCADE MULTILEVEL INVERTERS

3681

Fig. 3. Switching angles versus M and corresponded cost values for a fivelevel cascade multilevel inverter.

Fig. 5. Solutions for switching angles and corresponding cost function values
for an 11-level cascade multilevel inverter.

Fig. 4. Normalized amplitude of the fifth harmonic generated if the switching


pattern calculated for the equal-dc-source case is applied to the nonequal case
with k1 = 1.05 and k2 = 0.88 for a five-level inverter.
TABLE I
T YPICAL VALUES OF ki U SED IN C ALCULATIONS FOR THE
11-L EVEL C ASE

generated fifth-order harmonic in the output voltage waveform


if the same switching pattern calculated for the equal-dc-source
case is applied to the considered nonequal case with k1 = 1.05
and k2 = 0.88.
The second case that is considered is an 11-level inverter,
where the resultant method is not able to find the switching
angles for the nonequal-dc-source case. The considered typical
values of ki for this case are listed in Table I.
The solutions for the switching angles and the corresponding
cost values are shown in Fig. 5. From the cost values shown in
Fig. 5, it is evident that the PSO algorithm is effectively able
to find the optimum switching angles to suppress the undesired
harmonics.
Fig. 6 shows the normalized amplitude of the undesired
5th-, 7th-, 11th-, and 13th- order harmonics if the same switching pattern calculated for the equal-dc-source case is applied

Fig. 6. Normalized amplitude of generated harmonics if the switching patterns calculated for the equal-dc-source case is applied to the considered
unequal case (ki values listed in Table 1) for an 11-level-inverter case.

to the multilevel inverter with unequal dc sources and the


considered ki values listed in Table I.
Figs. 4 and 6 show that if the magnitudes of dc sources are not
equal and the same switching pattern calculated for the equaldc-source case is applied as the switching times of the inverter,
undesired harmonics will be produced at the output voltage of
the inverter. Therefore, to eliminate these harmonics, it is necessary to recalculate the new set of solutions for switching angles.

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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS, VOL. 57, NO. 11, NOVEMBER 2010

Fig. 8. FFT analysis of line voltage if the calculated switching angles for the
equal-dc-source case were used.

lineline voltage shown in Fig. 7(c), it can be seen that the


magnitudes of lower order 5th, 7th, 11th, and 13th harmonics
are negligible.
The THD result of the output line voltage shown in Fig. 7(b),
which is calculated according to the following, is 5.416%:



49

T HD =
Vn2 V1 .
(8)
n=5,7,11,...

Fig. 8 also shows the spectrum analysis if the switching


angles calculated for the equal-dc-source case are applied to the
considered unequal case. The THD result for this case is 8.12%.
Therefore, without the recalculation of optimum switching
angles, the undesired harmonics (5th, 7th, 11th, and 13th in
this case) will be produced and the THD of output voltage
increases.
VII. E XPERIMENTAL R ESULTS

Fig. 7. Simulation results of an 11-level multilevel inverter for M = 0.7.


(a) Output phase voltage. (b) Output line voltage. (c) FFT analysis for line
voltage.

The calculation of the switching angles by the proposed method


is accomplished in the MATLAB programming environment.
The calculation of each set of solutions takes approximately
0.29 s on a personal computer with a 2.8-GHz Pentium 4
processor and 512-MB memory that is enough for most of the
practical applications.
VI. S IMULATION R ESULTS
To validate the computational results for switching angles, a
simulation is carried out in MATLAB/SIMULINK software for
an 11-level cascaded H-bridge inverter and unequal dc sources.
The nominal dc voltage is considered to be 100 V, and the ki
values are the same as those in Table I. Simulation results are
presented for modulation index M = 0.7.
The output phase voltage, lineline voltage waveforms,
and frequency spectra of the lineline voltage are shown in
Fig. 7(a)(c), respectively. From the frequency spectra of the

In order to validate the computational results as well as the


simulations, experimental results are presented for a singlephase 11-level cascaded H-bridge inverter. The circuit configuration in the experimental circuit is the same as that in Fig. 1(a).
The inverter uses 30-A 200-V MOSFETs as the switching
devices, and the nominal dc-link voltage for each H-bridge is
considered to be 20 V. Each H-bridge unit uses a 4700-F 80-V
capacitor in its dc bus. The gate control signals are generated
by a dedicated unit implemented on the Spartan II series
of Xilinxs field-programmable gate array (FPGA). Furthermore, an Atmel 8-b AVR RISC microcontroller (ATmega16L)
is considered to interface with the operator and provide the
switching times for the FPGA. Fig. 9 shows the implemented
prototype.
The magnitudes of the dc voltage levels in the experiment are
considered as follows, which correspond to the ki coefficients
given in Table I:
Vdc1 = 21.6

Vdc2 = 19.6

Vdc4 = 17.2

Vdc5 = 16.

Vdc3 = 18

The first experiment is done for a lower modulation index


M = 0.47. The output phase voltage and the corresponding fast

TAGHIZADEH AND TARAFDAR HAGH: HARMONIC ELIMINATION OF CASCADE MULTILEVEL INVERTERS

Fig. 9.

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Implemented 11-level cascade H-bridge prototype.

Fig. 11. Experimental results for M = 0.7. (a) Output phase voltage.
(b) Corresponding FFT analysis.

Fig. 10. Experimental results for M = 0.47. (a) Output phase voltage.
(b) Corresponding FFT analysis.

Fourier transform (FFT) analysis are shown in Fig. 10(a) and


(b), respectively.
The second experiment is done for M = 0.7. The output
phase voltage and also the corresponding FFT analysis for this
case are shown in Fig. 11(a) and (b), respectively.
The last experiment is carried out for a higher modulation index M = 1.075. The output phase voltage and its FFT analysis
are shown in Fig. 12(a) and (b), respectively.
From the FFT analyses for all cases, the 5th-, 7th-, 11th-,
and 13th-order harmonics are completely eliminated from the
output phase voltage of the inverter. Referring to Fig. 5, there
is only one set of solutions for M = 0.47 (used in Fig. 10),
M = 0.7 (used in Fig. 11), and M = 1.075 (used in Fig. 12)

Fig. 12. Experimental results for M = 1.075. (a) Output phase voltage.
(b) Corresponding FFT analysis.

which are obtained by the proposed PSO method and are


global optima. These switching angles are used for getting
the experimental results and are listed in Table II. This table
also compares the THDs of the theoretical, simulation, and

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IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS, VOL. 57, NO. 11, NOVEMBER 2010

TABLE II
C OMPARISON OF THE THD S OF THE E XPERIMENTAL , S IMULATION , AND T HEORETICAL R ESULTS

experimental results for the three different modulation indexes


considered in this section.
The experimental results also validate the computational and
simulation results.
VIII. C ONCLUSION
The PSO has been proposed to solve the SHE problem
with nonequal dc sources in H-bridge cascaded multilevel
inverters. When the resultant approach reaches the limitation of
contemporary algebra software tools, the proposed method is
able to find the optimum switching angles in a simple manner.
The simulation and experimental results are provided for an
11-level cascaded H-bridge inverter to validate the accuracy of
the computational results.
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H. Taghizadeh received the B.S. degree in electronic engineering from the Islamic Azad University,
Tabriz, Iran, in 2005 and the M.S. degree in electrical
engineering from the University of Tabriz, Tabriz, in
2008.
He is currently a Lecturer with the Islamic Azad
University, Shabestar, and the Tabriz College of
Technology, Tabriz. His research interests include
the modulation and control of power electronic converters, and artificial intelligence with application to
power systems and power electronics.

M. Tarafdar Hagh (S98M06) received the M.Sc.


(with first honors) and Ph.D. degrees in power engineering from the University of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran,
in 1992 and 2000, respectively.
He has been with the Faculty of Electrical and
Computer Engineering, University of Tabriz, since
2000, where he is currently an Associate Professor.
He has published more than 130 papers in powersystem- and power-electronics-related topics. His
topics of interest include power system operation,
flexible alternating current transmission systems, and
power quality.