It is well known that conventional two-level pulsewidth modulated (PWM) inverters generate high-frequency common-mode voltages with high dv/dt. Similarly, commonly used multilevel inverter modulation schemes generate common-mode voltages. Common-mode voltages may cause motor shaft voltages and bearing currents and conducted electromagnetic interference (EMI). Premature motor bearing failures and electronic equipment malfunctions have been reported to be directly related to bearing currents and EMI. In this paper, approaches to eliminating common-mode voltage when using multilevel PWM inverters are presented. It is shown that inverters, which have an odd number of levels, will generate zero common-mode voltage by switching among certain states. Therefore, motor bearing currents will be eliminated and conducted EMI will be reduced. Both sinusoidal PWM and space-vector modulation (SVM) schemes are discussed and detailed comparative simulation results between conventional and novel modulation schemes are provided. The value of the proposed technique is demonstrated experimentally by applying the novel SVM approach to a conventional multilevel inverter.

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