This week, North Carolina State University’s renewable energy research lab is celebrating the many inventions, publications and programs it has spearheaded since its start 10 years ago.
FREEDM Systems Center is showcasing these achievements at a two-day conference on Thursday and Friday at the McKimmon Center. The agenda has topical panels with industry leaders, several presentations by faculty and alumni, project summaries presented by FREEDM Ph.D candidates and a pitch contest for the Center’s students.
FREEDM Systems Center, short for “Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management Systems Engineering Research Center,” was launched in 2008 as part of a larger initiative backed by the National Science Foundation.
NC State was awarded funding to establish an Engineering Research Center (ERC) overseeing the development of smart grid and renewable energy projects. In addition to its in-depth research into the modern power grid, other goals were to establish long-term partnerships with industry leaders and facilitate outreach programs to engage the surrounding community.
FREEDM’s undergraduate research programs are an opportunity for students interested in the field to learn about university research and practice it hands-on before applying to grad school. The facility is also host to NCSU’s Masters of Science in Electric Power Systems Engineering, along with two related certificate programs.
Over the last decade, FREEDM has produced more than 200 publications and conference presentations, more than 100 invention disclosures and 50 patents.
It has also helped launch 10 startup companies, including the high-profile spinoff project GridBridge, a power delivery startup that was acquired last year by Tennessee manufacturer ERMCO.
These accomplishments will be the overarching focus of this week’s conference. The event is also a marker for the next stage of goals the Center intends to reach in 2018 and into the next decade.
The FREEDM team said that they will continue working toward integrating renewable resources into the electric grid. They also offered a glance at some of their specific plans.
“One area of focus includes making control systems more robust and launching pilot demonstrations with industry and academic partners,” FREEDM’s Terri Kallal said. “Development work will continue on creating efficient and robust medium-voltage electronic converters and enhancing the patented solid-state transformer performance while decreasing cost. Additional areas of focus include wide bandgap semiconductors, electric transportation, EV chargers, advanced inverters and novel motor designs.”
The FREEDM Conference begins on Thursday, June 7 at 8:30 a.m. with a welcome from NCSU College of Engineering Dean Dr. Louis Martin-Vega and NCSU Chancellor Dr. Randy Woodson.
Throughout the duration of the event, several presentations will be delivered by industry representatives. Kelley Drye & Warren, LLP Senior Advisor Joseph Corrigan will discuss Department of Defense energy installations; Dr. Dan Stancil, head of NCSU’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, will share details on FREEDM’s partnership with the PowerAmerica Institute; NCSU Civil Engineering Professor Dr. Joe DeCarolis will present an update on the North Carolina Storage Project. Additional presentations will be delivered by ABB Corporate Research Manager Dr. Iulian Nistor, as well as Dr. Carmiña Londoño of the National Science Foundation.
In a “perfect pitch” competition, FREEDM students will present their projects to the audience, following an introduction by Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster Executive Director Susan Sanford.
Dinner and a reception with Duke Energy Senior Vice President Nelson Peeler will be held on Thursday evening at the Park Alumni Center.
The program also includes presentations from three FREEDM alumni: Duke Energy Substation Engineer Kat Sico, Voltserver Research Electrical Engineer Likhita Ravuri and Verily Hardware Engineer Arvind Govindaraj.
A series of panels will address topics such as grid resiliency, communications and analytics, and advances in EV deployment.
The event concludes on Friday with a visit of the Keystone Science Center Simulation Lab.
If you’re interested in attending, you can read more and register here. Tickets cost $50 each, but registration is free for industry members, students and faculty.