Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PI: Ferdowsi)

Promotion of energy efficiency and environmental protection are major challenges in future energy applications due to the rising prices in petroleum oil and environmental impacts. Rapidly growing technologies such as hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and electric power generation are the best examples of the emerging need to incorporate efficiency, reliability, security, safety, and environmentally friendliness into the energy systems. Due to lack of proper matching between the source and load dynamic characteristics, maintaining the operating conditions at optimal point is not possible in conventional energy application. It has been proven that employing energy storage systems improves the efficiency and reliability of the electric power generation as well as power train of the vehicles. This CAREER grant investigates the feasibility and implementation trends of integration of the two systems while they both use the same energy storage system. The required building blocks, tools, and technologies for future cyberinfrastructure development will also be identified. In the future envisioned by this creative proposal, by the year 2020, at least ten percent of the vehicles will be in the form of a hybrid car with an onboard energy storage unit. The vehicles are plugged in to the power grid while they are not in use; hence, while being charged, the onboard energy storage unit will be used for the grid regulation and peak load shaving purposes. The electric energy stored in the vehicle will be used to provide parts of or the entire traction force while the vehicle is in use. Intelligent power management strategy and proper communications between the vehicle and power grid as well as the required power electronic components are the main focus of this project.


Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management Systems (PI: Crow)

While the definition of what comprises the futuristic smart grid is still under debate, most experts agree that the smart grid will incorporate renewable energy, communication systems, and intelligent control.  Smart metering will enable consumers to program their home energy usage much like the power usage options of a laptop can be selected today.  One of the most attractive features of the proposed smart grid is the ability to take advantage of utility “time of use” rates.  These rates that are not constant through the day (or season), but instead reflect the real instantaneous cost of power generation.  By intelligent scheduling of major appliances, the consumer can reduce the cost of their electricity without comprising total energy usage.  For example, a home in the smart grid may decide to delay the refrigerator compressor turning on until the washer has completed its spin cycle.  In a true smart grid, these actions could be coordinated across neighborhoods as well by alternating air conditioner loads or plug-in vehicle charging.


Advanced Military Installations that Integrate Renewable Energy and Advanced Energy Storage Technologies (PI: Crow)

The objective of this project is to develop an energy system to optimize the resources of spot generation, energy storage, and renewable resources in a FOB.  The developed system will demonstrate the seamless plug-and-play of generators, loads, energy storage, and renewable resources utilizing a distributed resource allocation management scheme.  The proposed advanced system will demonstrate the capabilities to monitor the operation of the distributed resources, including solar, wind, utility grid, diesel, and storage units, to dispatch the available resources to meet mission critical loads.

Stochastic Transient Stability Analysis for Structure Preserved Electric Power Systems (PI: Crow)

Electrical power system loads are functions of a myriad of active and reactive power demands that depend on a variety of factors including time, weather, geography, and economics.  The result of the aggregate behavior of many thousands of individual customer devices switching independently is power system loads that are stochastic in nature.  The inclusion of stochasticity in power systems may lead to very different stability results from a deterministic approach.  For this reason, it is important to develop the appropriate tools to analyze the dynamic behavior of stochastic power systems.  Recent results have indicated that the determination of the transient stability (or instability) of the electric power system may be adversely affected by the random behavior of the loading patterns.  Unfortunately, investigating these effects is hindered by the lack of appropriate algorithms with which to analyze large scale stochastic power systems, specifically those of structure-preserved power systems.  Therefore, in this project it is proposed develop:

  • structured preserved stochastic transient energy functions, and
  • numerical methods for the integration of stochastic differential-algebraic equations.

Improved Photovoltaic Arrays with Local Switched-Capacitor Converters (PI: Kimball)

The objective of this research is to improve residential photovoltaic installations with switched-capacitor power converters.  The approach is a system topology in which each panel is connected to a high-voltage-gain switched-capacitor converter, whose outputs are paralleled.  This approach will increase the total array output power and improve system reliability.  Conventional photovoltaic installations use several panels in series to achieve high voltage, whereas this project uses parallel connections.  Also, new analysis tools for switched-capacitor converters and parallel arrays will be derived.


Hydrokinetic Energy Systems (PI: Kimball in collaboration with mechanical & aerospace engineering)

A hydrokinetic energy system extracts energy from a free-flowing current, such as a river or ocean current.  Conceptually, hydrokinetic systems are more like wind energy systems than like conventional hydropower systems, which convert potential energy into electrical energy.  A hydrokinetic energy system uses a turbine, or similar device, to convert kinetic energy into a form suitable for connecting to a generator that provides electrical power.  This research program is addressing the generator, which must deliver high torque at low speed, and power conversion system, which must ensure maximum power extraction and compatibility with electrical loads.