Areas of Research Expertise: Renewable and Distributed Power Systems
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Background: Engines & Energy Conversion Laboratory
The Engines & Energy Conversion Laboratory (EECL) is a unique research/education program housed in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The laboratory was established in the Old Fort Collins Power Plant in June 1992. In the years since then the laboratory has grown to become one of the largest and most influential engines research programs in the United States. The EECL is widely recognized as an international leader in the fields of large gas engines for power generation and compression, small 2-stroke cycle engines for use in developing countries, alternative fuels for automobiles, computational fluid dynamic (CFD) modeling of engines, and optical combustion diagnostics. The Department has invested in the laboratory through the recent hires of two new faculty members who have established new EECL programs in diesel engines, laser diagnostics, and plasma applications in engines.
The InteGrid laboratory ranks among the world's most advanced centers for test and development related to renewable energy, distributed generation, and power system management. Contained within the laboratory are multiple generators (natural gas gensets, microturbines), load banks, frequency and voltage stabilizers, and switchgear - all connected to the grid with the ability to import and export power.
An InteGrid Overview
The InteGrid Test and Development Laboratory www.integridlab.com provides a test platform for experimentally verifying SmartGrid controls and control strategies. The laboratory contains hardware which emulates part of the distribution grid at a scale of roughly 40:1 - economically sized while capturing the key dynamics of the distribution environment. InteGrid is growing rapidly, with major new equipment slated for installation in early 2010.
InteGrid is growing... fast. In addition to the resources above, significant new equipment will be implemented during early 2010 with committed funding, including:
A 50 KW Photovoltaic System Simulator
The PV simulator will emulate the operation of utility-connected photovoltaic systems, as well as providing a testbed for inverters and other power electronics. The system will be driven by a 50KW high-speed, controllable DC power supply, capable of emulating most I-V curve dynamics from 2-50 KW. The system will split into two 25KW supplies, to emulate multiple systems, potentially connected on isolated bus bars.
Interconnect and Switch Gear Expansion
A major switchgear extension will triple the number of breakers and busses available for emulating distribution systems. Busses can be linked directly, or decoupled through paired transformers to emulate distribution impedances. The utility interconnect will be upgraded to two independent transformers, allowing independent power feed/export operation.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Connections
Connections for two or more PHEVs will feed into the lab, supporting work in controlled charging, vehicle-to-grid export and similar strategies.
Additional Conventional Generation Systems
Two additional generators - a 500 KW Caterpillar 3412 genset and a Waukesha 300 KW genset - will be implemented in early 2010, in parallel with the lab. Either unit could be routed into the lab to support testing.
Waste Heat Generation System
An organic Rankine cycle (ORC) research system will utilize waste heat from other laboratory engines to generate electricity. The ORC system will utilize an innovative turbine, induction generator and regenerative solid-state drive. The system will serve as a test bed for ORC cycle improvements, cost reductions and interconnect studies.
Fuel Cell Generation System
A fuel cell connection point will be implemented, allowing the testing of fuel cells and similar storage systems.
What's next? The sky's the limit!