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University of Connecticut School of Engineering Advanced Power Electronics
and Electric Drives Laboratory

Research Sponsors

NSF REU Site (E-REU - Host of Undergraduate Researchers)
NSF RET (Joule Fellowship - Host of Fellows)

Equipment In-Kind Donations for APEDL and/or the Educational Electric Machines and Drives Lab

Modeling Efficiency, Cost, and Reliability of Power Electronics

With power electronics converter design being a multi-variable optimization problem (efficiency, performance, cost, and reliability) these essential characteristics have to be evaluated and improved. This research aims at developing models of these different characteristics with the current focus being on efficiency and cost. The tools developed currently address basic DC/DC converter tolopologies can be extended to many others. The tools are capable of estimating power losses in these converters and approximate costs (based on surface-fit models) with specific component parameters, and can also run in "optimization" mode where part numbers are suggested from a large database for minimum loss or minimum cost. Efficiency of the whole converter is estimated from the power loss of different components aggregated into different topologies. The converter cost is also estimated based on available component options. The tools only take datasheet and converter ratings for the component-specific mode, and only converter ratings for the optimization mode.

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Intelligent Fault Detection and Recovery in Power Electronics

Many power electronics applications, especially in solar photovoltaics, suffer from lower reliability of the converter compared to other parts in the energy system such as solar PV panels. This research has been developing simple but intelligent fault diagnosis methods in power electronics converters, with focus on microinverters, where these methods are easy to implement on FPGAs and CPLDs that already hold control and monitoring information. Applications have been recently extended to EV and PHEV chargers and many more applications to come. These methods utilize existing sensor information such as sensed votlages and currents, apply simple logic or fuzzy logic, and engage hardware reducndancy. The target is to achieve very fast diagnosis and recovery after various major faults, keep a log of the converter's health information, and remain within the same physical envelope of existing converters even with redundacny in place. Safety critical systems are also expected to benefit from this research.

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Combining Electric Drive Energy-Efficiency and High Performance

This research is sponsored by United Technologies Corporation (UTC-BIS). This research focuses on combining efficiency enhancement algorithms and methods in electric drives by minimizing losses in power electronic inverters and electric machines using real-time optimization, while focusing on maintained high performance control of these drives. Embedded systems holding this algorithms and their interaction with their surrounding power electronics and electric machine is of main interest. This research is supported by United Technologies Corporation (UTC-BIS)


Solar Photovoltaic DC and AC Conversion

Micro-inverters have seen significant interest in both academic research and industrial venues. Their existance in grid-tied solar photovoltaic systems is desired for different efficiency and reliability reasons. But, some applications such as battery-charging, stand-alone micro-grids, and even residential installations might just a regulated dc output. This project investigates existing and new dc/dc and dc/ac topologies for solar photovoltaic applications with focus on their applicability.


Integrated Solar PV and Thermoelectric Energy System

This research addresses the combination of PV and thermoelectrics into a single hybrid energy system. The test rig shown below currently combines these sources with maximum power extraction from each to charge a battery, and further research on optimal performance and energy harvesting is being investigated.

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Modular Linear Induction Machine

A senior design team (Jonathan Rarey, Julio Yela, and David Hackeny) successfully simulated, designed, built, and cotrolled a linear induction machine that is highly modular for further research on construction, material, control, and various other topics. The team won first place in the ECE senior design competition during Fall 2013-Spring 2014.

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Modeling and Real-Time Simulations of Microgrids with Significant Renewable Penetration

This research has already established or upgraded existing dynamic models of major microgrid components in line with UCONN's recently awarded microgrid on Depot Campus. These dynamic models are being utilized to evaluate the microgrid's response under uncertain operating conditions, in addition to the performance of power electronic controllers to microgrid faults, islanding, and grid connection.

Energy Efficiency of Rail Facilities

This research is sponsored by the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering with focus on investigating methods and recommendations to enhance energy efficiency in rail facilities.

Real-Time Emulation and Simulation of Electric Vehicles and Electric Ship Propulsion

Real-time simulation is a major time-saving tool for lengthly simulations. This research focuses on utilizing realt-time simulations of an electric vehicle and a ship propulsion system to evaluate their efficiency, performance, and reliability. In parallel with the sumulation, a real-time vehicle emulator has been implemented in LabVIEW by taking into consideration major vehicle dynamics and real driving schedules. Various other research topics in terms of vehicle safety are being investigated with results that will be soon reported in publications.

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Performance Enhancement of LVDTs

This research is sponsored by Trans-Tek Inc. LVDTs are highly sensitive but accurate linear variable differential transformers with a very wide range of applications from position sensing to linear speed estimation to force measurement. This research investigates methods to enhance the performance of existing LVDTs for a wider range of applications.

Fault Detection and Recovery in Electric Drives (with Prof. Shalabh Gupta at UCONN)

As electric drives penetrate in more-electric traction, it is desired to have fault tolerant drives by both design and control. Even though fault detection and recovery is not a new topic in the electric drives' literature, this topic applies fault detection mechanisms from other areas into the drive system. Fault recovery is addressed in a switched system topology.

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