Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) standards

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The context

Controlling unintentional electromagnetic interference (EMI) produced by electronic systems and devices is a condition for a system to be considered electromagnetic compatible. EMI can trigger multiple types of problems, from malfunctioning of safety-critical sensors in a vehicle to the degradation of wireless communication systems. Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) standards are meant to control unwanted electromagnetic emissions that may result in interference problems. 

Many EMC standards exist and they describe testing methods and requirements for almost every product that includes electronics. Likewise, the Directive 2014/30/EU on electromagnetic compatibility makes it mandatory for all electronic products in the European market to comply with EMC standards. However, as technology advances, new EMI risks arise and new standards and test methods are needed for the emerging EMC challenges

Marco A. Azpúrua, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and EMC Electromagnetic BCN S.L.

The challenges

Many products can't be assessed using the current standard EMC test methods mainly because it is not possible to install them in an EMC test facility due to their large size and high power consumption requirements. Examples of such products are complete photovoltaic systems and elements of the on-road electric vehicle infrastructure. The lack of appropriate EM emissions measurement methods for such types of products limits the possibilities of preventing EMI problems caused by them.

How standardisation activities help face the challenges

Historically, Standardisation has been fundamental for the EMC as it has set the basic test methods for assessing the emissions and the immunity of most electromagnetic products concerning the most relevant electromagnetic phenomena. As the interference scenarios evolve, research evidence points out that new standards are required to prevent interference in current and future communication systems. New approaches for defining the emissions limits based on communication quality metrics, or the multidomain characterization of the EMI are fields of application that should be considered in the new EMC standards.

The Benefits

Stakeholders from the industry will benefit from new in-situ EMC standards best suited for their large-size high-power products, currently not completely covered in IEC or CISPR standards. Stakeholders from EMC test lab and the instrumentation industry will benefit from new testing and consultancy services derived from the new standards and requirements. Consumers will gain trust in CE-marked products and the radio spectrum will be more protected, thus enabling the confident deployment of wireless technologies.

Future plans

This Standardisation work is very ambitious and has to deal with the legacy of a vast number of EMC standards. For the moment, we target some key high-level CISPR standards, namely CISPR 11, CISPR 16, and a new standard called CISPR 37. Then, the plan is to contribute to other IEC EMC product standards more directly related to PV systems, wind power systems, and EVs. Likewise, the “Metrology for emerging electromagnetic compatibility standards” (21NRM06) from the European Partnership on Metrology is expected to start in late 2022 to further investigate and contribute to this field.