ECE faculty received an NSF grant for research on converter-dominated direct current (DC) microgrids

September 29, 2020

Dr. Wencong Su, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Dr. Mengqi (Maggie) Wang, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, received an NSF research grant in an amount of $337,479 to support their project entitled "Collaborative Research: Large-Signal Stability Analysis and Enhancement of Converter-Dominated DC Microgrid".  The funding will run from  9/1/2020 to 08/31/2023.

While DC microgrids have many well-understood advantages, including a simpler, more efficient and compact power conversion system as well as less copper consumption in the cables, there are many challenges.  Characteristics that are unique to DC electric such as direct P-V coupling mean even a small load/generation change can lead to voltage flickers and equipment malfunctions.  Another attribute of DC electric is low system inertia which creates very little overload capacity and poses great challenges to grid stability. Right now there is limited information on how to increase the stability of these types of grids and an urgent need to develop this knowledge to support the use of microgrids and distributed energy sources.

The proposed education and outreach research plan will (i) incorporate theoretical frameworks, curated data sets, and testbed from this project into the existing curriculum at both the University of Michigan-Dearborn and the University of Texas at Austin; (ii) promote K-12 students interest in STEM; (iii) disseminate all project materials, processes, designs and results in the public domain via public-access websites, top-ranking conference and journal publications, and in diverse media; and (iv) provide rich research opportunities to under-represented undergraduates by creating societally meaningful projects on microgrids. 

The goal of this project is to investigate

  • criteria for large-signal stability in DC microgrids with multiple distributed energy sources and constant power loads
  • a systematic methodology to improve the global asymptotic stability of a converter-dominated DC microgrid in a theoretically sound yet easy-to-implement manner, ultimately bridging the technology gap between three traditionally disjointed areas: control theory, power systems, and power electronics.

The proposed research will focus on the following areas: (1) developing a knowledge base to understand the large-signal stability criteria of inertia-less DC microgrids with 100% penetration of constant power loads and converter-based distributed energy sources; (2) creating a stability-aware converter to improve the stability of converter-dominated DC microgrids in a theoretically sound yet easy-to-implement manner; (3) generating rigorous mathematical methods and safe learning algorithms for estimating the region of attraction of a DC microgrid (4) a testbed that allows for dynamic interactions of prototype converters

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