Electric power converter allows the grid to easily accept energy from renewables

Engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas have invented a new electrical energy conversion system that simultaneously accepts energy from various energy sources and converts it for use in the electrical grid system.

Doctoral student Joseph Carr developed the system with his advisor, Juan Balda, a university professor and head of the electrical engineering department.

Innovations in this area are critical as the United States moves toward integrating renewable energy sources into the national power grid.

The US Department of Energy pursued and obtained a US patent for the technology and is now seeking licensing opportunities for potential commercialization. “It’s very rewarding when PhD students who invest many hours working on various research ideas are rewarded with a patent,” Balda said. noted. “At the same time, it is an indication of the research work that several faculty members and their students are doing in the area of ​​future energy systems.”

The availability and use of renewable energy sources, such as solar, geothermal and wind power, and their associated harvesting systems are increasing the need for new power converters capable of efficiently converting various energy sources to operate on modern power grids. Current renewable energy conversion systems are bulky, inefficient, and struggle to accept multiple inputs from various sources.

The researchers’ high-frequency matrix converter fills these gaps. Its simplified control system uses power converters to allow connection of a variety of power sources to a small high-frequency transformer. Then, using a high frequency matrix converter, it produces stable electricity ready to be supplied to the power grid system.

The research was sponsored by a grant from the Department of Energy.

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Material provided by University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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