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Cree, Inc.

15 kV SiC IGBT Power Modules for Grid-Scale Power Conversion

Cree is developing silicon carbide (SiC) power transistors that are 50% more energy efficient than traditional transistors. Transistors act like a switch, controlling the electrical energy that flows through an electrical circuit. Most power transistors today use silicon semiconductors to conduct electricity. However, transistors with SiC semiconductors operate at much higher temperatures, as well as higher voltage and power levels than their silicon counterparts. SiC-based transistors are also smaller and require less cooling than those made with traditional silicon power technology. Cree's SiC transistors will enable electrical circuits to handle higher power levels more efficiently, and they will result in much smaller and lighter electrical devices and power converters. Cree, an established leader in SiC technology, has already released a commercially available SiC transistor that can operate at up to 1,200 volts. The company has also demonstrated a utility-scale SiC transistor that operates at up to 15,000 volts.

Drexel University

Resonant Solid State Breaker Based on Wireless Coupling in MVDC Systems

Drexel University is proposing a solid-state MV circuit breaker based on silicon carbide devices, a resonant topology, and capacitive wireless power transfer that aims to significantly improve breaker performance for the MVDC ecosystem. The project combines innovations in using an active resonant circuit to realize zero-current switching, wireless capacitive coupling between the conduction and breaker branches to avoid direct metal-to-metal contact for rapid response speed, and wireless powering to drive the MV switches for improved system reliability.

Eaton Corporation

Synthetic Cloud-Based Regulation Reserve Distribution Management System (Secured)

Eaton will develop and validate a disruptive cloud-computing-based technology aimed at providing agile and robust synthetic regulating reserve services to the power grid. This approach separates the decision-making of synthetic regulating reserve services into two-levels to significantly reduce the computational complexity, thereby enabling large-scale coordinated control of a vast number of DERs and flexible load. The system-operator level estimates and predicts reserve capacity of the distribution network and decides on the appropriate economic incentives for DERs to participate in future services. At the local level, an energy node comprised of a cluster of DERs and flexible loads will automatically decide its own reserve services strategy that takes into account short-term net load and economic incentives. By splitting these decisions between the two levels, the solution does not require extensive communication or negotiation between the local DERs and the system operators in the cloud.

Eaton Corporation

Ultra-Efficient Intelligent MVDC Hybrid Circuit Breaker

Eaton will build an ultra-high efficiency, medium voltage direct current (MVDC), electro-mechanical/solid-state hybrid circuit breaker (HCB) that offers both low conduction losses and fast response times. The team will also develop a high-speed actuator/vacuum switch (HSVS) combined with a novel transient commutation current injector (TCCI). This switch will transfer power to a separate solid-state device, interrupting the current in the event of a fault. The design should allow for scaling in voltage and current, enabling a range of circuit breakers across the MV application space.

General Atomics

Magnetically Pulsed Hybrid Breaker for HVDC Power Distribution Protection

General Atomics is developing a direct current (DC) circuit breaker that could protect the grid from faults 100 times faster than its alternating current (AC) counterparts. Circuit breakers are critical elements in any electrical system. At the grid level, their main function is to isolate parts of the grid where a fault has occurred--such as a downed power line or a transformer explosion--from the rest of the system. DC circuit breakers must interrupt the system during a fault much faster than AC circuit breakers to prevent possible damage to cables, converters and other grid-level components. General Atomics' high-voltage DC circuit breaker would react in less than 1/1,000th of a second to interrupt current during a fault, preventing potential hazards to people and equipment.

General Electric

Nanoclay Reinforced Ethylene-Propylene-Rubber for Low-Cost HVDC Cabling

General Electric (GE) Global Research is developing new, low-cost insulation for high-voltage direct current (HVDC) electricity transmission cables. The current material used to insulate HVDC transmission cables is very expensive and can account for as much as 1/3 of the total cost of a high-voltage transmission system. GE is embedding nanomaterials into specialty rubber to create its insulation. Not only are these materials less expensive than those used in conventional HVDC insulation, but also they will help suppress excess charge accumulation. The excess charge left behind on a cable poses a major challenge for high-voltage insulation--if it is not kept to a low level, it could ultimately lead the insulation to fail. GE's low-cost insulation is compatible with existing U.S. cable manufacturing processes, further enhancing its cost effectiveness.

General Electric

High-Voltage, High-Power Gas Tube Technology for HVDC Transmission

General Electric (GE) Global Research is developing a new gas tube switch that could significantly improve and lower the cost of utility-scale power conversion. A switch breaks an electrical circuit by interrupting the current or diverting it from one conductor to another. To date, solid state semiconductor switches have completely replaced gas tube switches in utility-scale power converters because they have provided lower cost, higher efficiency, and greater reliability. GE is using new materials and innovative designs to develop tubes that not only operate well in high-power conversion, but also perform better and cost less than non-tube electrical switches. A single gas tube switch could replace many semiconductor switches, resulting in more cost effective high power converters.

General Electric

Inline Gas Discharge Tube Breaker for Meshed MVDC Grids

GE Research will develop a medium voltage direct current (MVDC) circuit breaker using gas discharge tubes (GDTs) with exceptionally fast response time. GDTs switch using no mechanical motion by transitioning the internal gas between its ordinary insulating state and a highly conductive plasma state. The team will develop a new cathode and control grid to reduce power loss during normal operation and meet program performance and efficiency targets. A fast MVDC breaker is an important component in uprating existing AC distribution corridors in congested urban areas to MVDC, and connecting distributed renewable energy sources to a growing number of high-power applications.

General Electric

Synthetic Reserves from Aggregated Distributed Flexible Resources

General Electric (GE) Global Research along with its partners will develop a novel distributed flexibility resource (DFR) technology that aggregates responsive flexible loads and DERs to provide synthetic reserve services to the grid while maintaining customer quality-of-service. A key innovation of the project is to develop a forecast tool that will use short-term and real-time weather forecasts along with other data to estimate the reserve potential of aggregate loads and DERs. An optimization framework that will enable aggregation of large numbers of flexible loads and DERs and determine the optimal schedule to bid into the wholesale market will be designed. A scalable control and communication architecture will enable coordination and control of the resources in real-time based on a novel two-tier hierarchical optimal control algorithm.

GeneSiC Semiconductor

Silicon Carbide Anode Switched Thyristor for Medium-Voltage Power Conversion

GeneSiC Semiconductor is developing an advanced silicon-carbide (SiC)-based semiconductor called an anode-switched thyristor. This low-cost, compact SiC semiconductor conducts higher levels of electrical energy with better precision than traditional silicon semiconductors. This efficiency will enable a dramatic reduction in the size, weight, and volume of the power converters and the electronic devices they are used in. GeneSiC is developing its SiC-based semiconductor for utility-scale power converters. Traditional silicon semiconductors can't process the high voltages that utility-scale power distribution requires, and they must be stacked in complicated circuits that require bulky insulation and cooling hardware. GeneSiC's semiconductors are well suited for high-power applications like large-scale renewable wind and solar energy installations.

Georgia Tech Research Corporation

Prosumer-Based Distributed Autonomous Cyber-Physical Architecture for Ultra-Reliable Green Electricity Networks

Georgia Tech Research Corporation is developing a decentralized, autonomous, internet-like control architecture and control software system for the electric power grid. Georgia Tech's new architecture is based on the emerging concept of electricity prosumers--economically motivated actors that can produce, consume, or store electricity. Under Georgia Tech's architecture, all of the actors in an energy system are empowered to offer associated energy services based on their capabilities. The actors achieve their sustainability, efficiency, reliability, and economic objectives, while contributing to system-wide reliability and efficiency goals. This is in marked contrast to the current one-way, centralized control paradigm.

Georgia Tech Research Corporation

EDISON - Efficient DC Interrupter with Surge Protection

Georgia Tech is developing a novel hybrid direct current (DC) circuit breaker that could enable multi-terminal DC power systems. The breaker's mechanical switch enables switching speeds 10 times faster than existing technology, severing the mechanical linkage, while the power electronics-based circuit handles the fault current. A new configuration of the fast switch and solid-state devices/circuits will reduce steady-state losses compared to state-of-the-art hybrid circuit breakers. A new control scheme dramatically reduces the peak fault current levels, enabling more compact packaging and increasing reliability.

Georgia Tech Research Corporation

Grid-Connected Modular Soft-Switching Solid State Transformers (M-S4T)

Georgia Tech Research Corporation and its project team will develop a solid-state transformer for medium-voltage grid applications using silicon carbide with a focus on compact size and high-performance. Traditional grid connected transformers have been used for over 100 years to 'step down' higher voltage to lower voltage. Higher voltages allows for delivery of power over longer distances and lower voltages keeps consumers safe. But traditional distribution transformers lack integrated sensing, communications, and controls. They also lack the ability to control the voltage, current, frequency, power factor or anything else to improve local or global performance. Solid-state transformers can provide improvements and Georgia Tech's design seeks to address major roadblocks to their implementation, namely insulation, cooling, voltage change, and magnetic field issues, as well as downstream protection against abnormal current faults. If successful, the team will greatly increase transformer functionality while reducing its size over current technologies, affecting application areas like grid energy storage, solar photovoltaics and electric vehicle fast chargers, while also enabling better grid monitoring and easy retrofits.

Georgia Tech Research Corporation


Georgia Tech Research Corporation

Resilient, Cyber Secure Centralized Substation Protection

The Georgia Tech Research Corporation will design an autonomous, resilient and cyber-secure protection and control system for each power plant and substation on its grid. This will eliminate complex coordinated protection settings and transform the protection practice into a simpler, intelligent, automated and transparent process. The technology will integrate protective relays into an intelligent protection scheme that relies on existing high data redundancy in substations to (a) validate data; (b) detect hidden failures and in this case self-heal the protection and control system; (c) detect cyber-attacks (focus on false data and/or malicious control injection) and identify the source for attribution; and (d) provide the full state of the system with minimal delay for optimal full state feedback control.

Georgia Tech Research Corporation

Dynamic Control of Grid Assets Using Direct AC Converter Cells

Georgia Tech Research Corporation is developing a cost-effective, utility-scale power router that uses an enhanced transformer to more efficiently direct power on the grid. Existing power routing technologies are too expensive for widespread use, but the ability to route grid power to match real-time demand and power outages would significantly reduce energy costs for utilities, municipalities, and consumers. Georgia Tech is adding a power converter to an existing grid transformer to better control power flows at about 1/10th the cost of existing power routing solutions. Transformers convert the high-voltage electricity that is transmitted through the grid into the low-voltage electricity that is used by homes and businesses. The added converter uses fewer steps to convert some types of power and eliminates unnecessary power storage, among other improvements. The enhanced transformer is more efficient, and it would still work even if the converter fails, ensuring grid reliability.

GridBright, Inc.

A Standards-Based Intelligent Repositorty for Collaborative Grid Model Management

GridBright and Utility Integration Solutions (UISOL, a GE Company) will develop a power systems model repository based on state-of-the-art open-source software. The models in this repository will be used to facilitate testing and adoption of new grid optimization and control algorithms. The repository will use field-proven open-source software and will be made publicly available in the first year of the project. Key features of the repository include an advanced search capability to support search and extraction of models based on key research characteristics, faster model upload and download times, and the ability to support thousands of users. The team will establish a long-term strategy for managing the repository that will allow its operation to continue after its project term with ARPA-E ends.

GridBright, Inc.

Secure Grid Data Exchange Using Cryptography, Peer-To-Peer Networks, and Blockchain Ledgers

GridBright will develop a simple and secure solution for sharing grid-related data to improve grid efficiency, reliability, and resiliency in a manner that preserves security and integrity. GridBright will use the Agile development model to construct several proof-of-concept software pipelines, performing penetration and compromise testing and a quantitative evaluation of each against existing requirements. The solution will create a simpler secure grid data exchange process for the electric grid and utility industries.

Harvard University

Transistor-less Power Supply Technology Based on UWBG Nonlinear Transmission Line

Harvard University in partnership with Sandia National Laboratories will develop a transistor-less 16kW DC to DC converter boosting a 0.5kV DC input to 8kV that is scalable to 100kW. If successful, the transistor-less DC to DC converter could improve the performance of power electronics for electric vehicles, commercial power supplies, renewable energy systems, grid operations, and other applications. Converting DC to DC is a two-step process that traditionally uses fast-switching transistors to convert a DC input to an AC signal before the signal is rectified to a DC output. The Harvard and Sandia team will improve the process by replacing the active, fast-switching transistors with a slow switch followed by a passive, nonlinear transmission line (NLTL). The NLTL is a ladder network of passive components (inductors and diodes) that provide a nonlinear output with voltage. The combination of the nonlinear behavior with dispersion converts a quasi-DC input into a series of sharper and taller (amplified) voltage pulses called solitons, thus executing the DC to AC conversion without the use of active, fast-switching transistors. The NLTL will be followed by a high breakdown voltage silicon carbide and/or gallium nitride diode-based accumulator that converts the series of solitons to a DC output. Replacing the fast-switching transistors with a slow switch and a NLTL addresses the cost, size, efficiency, and reliability issues associated with fast switching based converters. Diodes also cost less and last longer because they are simpler structures than transistors and use no dielectrics. Efficiency, cost, and reliability improvements provided by a NLTL-based power converter will drastically benefit commercial power supplies, industrial motors, electric vehicles, data centers, the electric grid, and renewable electric power generation such as solar and wind.

HexaTech, Inc.

Aluminum Nitride-Based Devices for High-Voltage Power Electronics

HexaTech is developing new semiconductors for electrical switches that will more efficiently control the flow of electricity across high-voltage electrical lines. A switch helps control electricity: switching it on and off, converting it from one voltage to another, and converting it from an Alternating Current (A/C) to a Direct Current (D/C) and back. Most switches today use silicon or silicon-based semiconductors, which are not able to handle high voltages, fast switching speeds, or high operating temperatures. HexaTech has developed highest quality, single crystalline Aluminum Nitride (AlN) semiconductor wafers. HexaTech AlN wafers are the enabling platform for power converters which can handle 50 times more voltage than silicon, as well as higher switching speeds and operating temperatures.


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