Research team invents electrical power converter for renewable energy

Research Team Invents Electrical Power Converter for Renewable Energy
A high-frequency matric converter invented by researchers at the University of Arkansas accepts power from a variety of renewable energy sources, including solar, and converts it for use in the electrical grid system.

Engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas have invented a novel electrical power converter system that simultaneously accepts power from a variety of energy sources and converts it for use in the electrical grid system.

Doctoral student Joseph Carr developed the system with his adviser, Juan Balda, University Professor and head of the department of .

Innovations in this field are critical as the United States moves toward integration of renewable to the .

The U.S. Department of Energy pursued and was granted a U.S. patent for the technology and is now seeking licensing opportunities for potential commercialization. The research was sponsored by a Department of Energy grant.

"It is very gratifying when doctoral students who invest many hours working on various research ideas are rewarded with a patent," Balda said. "At the same time, it is an indication of research work that several faculty members and their students are doing in the field of future energy systems."

The availability and use of , such as solar, geothermal and wind, and their associated harvesting systems increase the need for new that can efficiently convert diverse energy sources to work across modern systems. Current renewable energy conversion systems are bulky, inefficient and struggle to accept multiple inputs from diverse sources.

The researchers' high-frequency matrix converter addresses these shortcomings. 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 electrical grid system.

Carr received his doctorate from the university in 2011. He was a Distinguished Doctoral Fellow from 2005 to 2009 and co-authored nine articles published in journals and presented at international conferences. He now works for ABB, a power company in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Balda has been a professor at the university since 1989. His main research interests are power electronics, electric power distribution systems, motor drives and electric power quality. He is a senior member of the IEEE and member of the Power Electronics and Industry Applications Societies.

As associate director of the National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission, a 7,000-square-foot, $5-million power electronic test facility at the University of Arkansas, Balda is at the center of a critical corps of U of A researchers investigating solid-state solutions for the nation's electric grid.

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Citation: Research team invents electrical power converter for renewable energy (2015, April 27) retrieved 16 July 2019 from
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Apr 27, 2015
Another talking point for the opponents just disappeared. And just in time for this news:

"Next-generation nuclear reactors may not be safer: French watchdog"


Apr 27, 2015
ABB is world-wide. Formerly Asea Brown Boveri

But if this can be used in the entire frequency spectrum of AC and DC, it can be a game-changer for all of us, . . if it is affordable.

But what are the ranges of inputs, and what is the output? Does it do high-frequency switching into a DC Link, as we do in industrial motor drives, or what?

Apr 27, 2015
wow.... his students have figured out how to make a buck/boost converter..... yay! They have only been on the market for at least 20 years. Do any of these so called professors EVER looks at the markets to see what's already out there? In the last year or so I've seen half a dozen so called new inventions come out from colleges that have already been on the market for years! Those professors need to get out of their labs now and then and into the real world!

Apr 27, 2015
24V, no, I think he has something entirely different.

Apr 27, 2015
Really? what's different about it. Either it is taking low voltage and boosting it or high voltage and reducing it. whether the input is ac or dc input means nothing... a simple diode bridge makes it all dc to begin with before it can be converted to high frequency for the transformer.

Apr 27, 2015
It is taking, I thought, inputs of all voltages and frequencies at the same time and giving one output. If so, it is not a buck/boost converter.

But there is insufficient information here to make any assumptions.

Apr 28, 2015
This is just like my early basic training about security when a new Air Force recruit.....a homemade see-curity system a bit like pig-latin! Talk around a subject to avoid the meat of it exxcept thru 'suggestion'. The system is probably a conglomeration of simple parts into a whole that on the surface 'appears' inscrutable! The author talks around it inasmuch as it is a soon to be 'patented' or 'copyrighted' process little more complicated than a 'business method'. If they said what they meant, even a first year tech student would so 'know' about it good enough to come up with his own. That worthy beats our writer's subject's inventor to the patent office by hook or by crook and its bye-bye a lot of good work. Because that is the heart of it--work. Good work that somebody had to do to get the above result.

Apr 28, 2015
Truck and bus drivers use 24 volt systems! A lot of those drivers, though practical, are not very grammatical. You get that way when you have to interact with ignorance on institutionalized levels of our modern transport industry. Every 'patent' app goes through vetting processes as 'prior work' trumps new patent applications. Even obscure papers in other nations or long ago will stop one of these apps in its tracks.

May 02, 2015
For those interested in more information,
the patent can be found by googling: "uspto 8,995,159"

May 03, 2015
It seems to me that the device is turning any input voltage into 60Hz Sine waves. Most inverters produce 60 Hz Square waves. If you are only producing a few KW this is not a problem since the power lines will in effect clamp the inverter to the proper voltage output at any point in time turning the square wave into a sine wave. Now if you are producing 100s of KW and feeding it into the grid square waves are a real problem.

May 03, 2015
Any deviation from a pure sine wave injects harmonics into the powerline. These can heat up transformers, take up "space" in the line, create multiple crossovers, and affect other equipment. The field is called Power Quality.

Look it up.

May 30, 2015
tear88, we worked on these in the 1980's, running some at PG&E, so much of it must be in the public domain by now.

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