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Students Win Prestigious Texas Instruments Analog Circuit Design Award



Derik Trowler and Bret Whitaker, 2008 graduates of the Electrical Engineering Department, recently received first place in Texas Instruments' "University Analog Design Contest" and became the winners of the "Engibous Prize" for Innovation in Analog.  They will split a monetary award of $10,000.  The competition involved teams composed of a minimum of two members from at least 16 universities.  Second and third places went to The University of Arizona and Ohio State respectively.  More information about the contest can be found at: Analog Circuit Design competition.

Their senior design project, which became their contest entry, presented a scaled down grid-connected battery energy storage system capable of bidirectional operation.  In the "discharge" mode the system draws energy from the batteries and supplements the grid.  In the "charge" mode the system draws energy from the grid and charges the batteries.  The project utilized a bidirectional dc-dc converter, h-bridge inverter, transformer, three 12 V lead-acid batteries and the necessary control circuitry.

A full-scale battery energy storage system would mainly be used in grid demand peak shaving applications.  The batteries are charged at night when demand is low and energy can be generated at a lower cost.  That stored energy is then injected back into the grid during peak demand periods.  This allows power plants to operate on a more predictable output profile and decreases the need for costly power generation during peak periods.

Energy storage systems have several other benefits.  They can improve power quality, prevent brown-outs, and help postpone costly upgrades to substations, thereby allowing capital to be redirected elsewhere.

This project was funded by American Electric Power (AEP), and was designed to function similarly to the large scale sodium sulfur (NAS) battery systems already being implemented in AEP's "gridSMART" activities.