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Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management Engineering Research Center

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NSF Engineering Research Center for Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management (FREEDM) Systems  (North Carolina State University)

Research Focus & Anticipated Benefits

The Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management (FREEDM) Systems Center, headquartered on NC State University's Centennial Campus, is one of the latest Gen-III Engineering Research Centers (ERC) established by the National Science Foundation in 2008. The FREEDM Systems Center will partner with universities, industry, and national laboratories in 28 states and nine countries to develop technology to revolutionize the nation's power grid and speed renewable electric-energy technologies into every home and business. The center is supported by an initial five-year, $18.5 million grant from NSF, Division of Engineering Education and Centers) with an additional $10 million in institutional support and industry membership fees. A large number of utility companies, electrical equipment manufacturers, alternative energy start-ups, and other established and emerging firms are part of this global partnership.

The envisioned FREEDM System is a revolutionary power grid based on power electronics, high bandwidth digital communication, and distributed control. It is radically different from today's grid because it replaces electromagnetic devices such as 60 Hz transformers with solid state transformers. In this system, solid state based protection devices will also replace mechanical switches. The four-quadron power flow control provided by the solid state transformer allows the plug-and-play of the distributed generations and also allows for the addition of storages and loads to the grid with no adverse effects on nearby users. The solid state transformer will provide unmatched power quality improvement to residential users and industry customers. The system understands the value of different types of energy and maximizes green energy utilization, which improves the energy efficiency of the total system.

The FREEDM system is the "internet for energy", it will transform the power industry in a similar way that the internet transformed the computer industry from the mainframe computer paradigm to the distributed computing we have today. Such a paradigm shift will be accompanied by massive innovation in green energy technologies. The FREEDM System allows every energy user to not only be a customer, but to also act as an innovator of energy. There is no barrier to connect his or her innovations to the grid!

Education & Outreach

The Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department offers an new undergraduate concentration in Renewable Electric Energy Systems (REES) within the Bachelor of Science Electrical Engineering degree program.

The REES concentration addresses the need to develop new technologies that can harvest the geographically distributed renewable energy such as solar and wind efficiently; and create "smart" electric power systems capable of integrating geographically distributed renewable energy based generators.

The concentration is part of the ECE Department and the Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management Systems Center's (FREEDM) effort to create a new generation of engineers who possess strong analytical skills and employ a broader range of interdisciplinary knowledge in a team-based environment.

Students enrolled in the REES undergraduate concentration receive training in the following areas: Renewable Electric Energy Systems, Power System Analysis, Power Electronics, and Design of Electromechanical Systems.

The FREEDM Systems Center has developed partnerships with 14 middle-and-high schools in three states to increase awareness of the importance of renewable energy systems and recruit future students. A feature of our Center is the theme "each one mentor one." A network of interconnections is being created between industry members, faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, teachers, and high school students.

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  • Image from a National Science Foundation-funded ERC.
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