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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:North Carolina State University
  • Iqbal Husain
  • (919) 513-5927
  • Bruce M McMillin
  • Rajapandian Ayyanar
  • Jim P Zheng
  • Roger McGinnis
Award Date:08/29/2008
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 18,499,692
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 36,310,444
  • FY 2011=$4,000,000
  • FY 2016=$3,555,713
  • FY 2017=$1,795,125
  • FY 2008=$3,249,975
  • FY 2010=$4,149,447
  • FY 2012=$6,132,541
  • FY 2013=$1,878,459
  • FY 2009=$3,499,981
  • FY 2015=$4,049,203
  • FY 2014=$4,000,000
Start Date:09/01/2008
End Date:08/31/2019
Transaction Type: Cooperative Agreements
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.041
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:NSF Engineering Research Center for Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management (FREEDM) Systems
Federal Award ID Number:0812121
DUNS ID:042092122
Parent DUNS ID:142363428
Program:ERC-Eng Research Centers
Program Officer:
  • Eduardo Misawa
  • (703) 292-5353

Awardee Location

Street:2701 Sullivan DR STE 240
Awardee Cong. District:04

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:North Carolina State University
Street:2701 Sullivan DR STE 240
Cong. District:04

Abstract at Time of Award

ERC for Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management (FREEDM) Systems Alex Q. Huang, Director North Carolina State University, Arizona State University, Florida State University, Florida A&M University, University of Missouri-Rolla Project Summary Our vision for the ERC for Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management (FREEDM) Systems is an efficient electric power grid integrating highly distributed and scalable alternative generating sources and storage with existing power systems to facilitate a green energy based society, mitigate the growing energy crisis, and reduce the impact of carbon emissions on the environment. We believe the key to solving the energy crisis is not necessarily the renewable energy itself, but the infrastructure needed to deliver and manage large scale distributed renewable energy resources (DRER). The mission of the ERC for FREEDM Systems is to develop the fundamental and enabling technology to demonstrate the system and, through such development and demonstration, foster a revolution in innovation and technology in the electric power and renewable energy industries, providing long-term energy security and environmental sustainability for the U.S. Key Goals: Develop the fundamental knowledge base for the FREEDM system and provide fundamental breakthrough technology in energy storage and power semiconductor devices. Develop enabling technologies for subsystem and system demonstrations. Develop a 1MW FREEDM green energy hub system to power the ERC headquarters. Develop a diverse group of adaptive, creative, and innovative graduates who advance fundamental knowledge, enabling technology and engineered systems innovations in renewable electric energy delivery and management systems Develop long-term partnerships with middle and high schools, teachers, and students to enhance engineering content knowledge and pedagogical methods, bring engineering concepts into the classroom, involve pre-college students in research, and thereby increase the diversity and enrollment of domestic students in university engineering degree programs. Form long-term partnerships with large and small firms to speed the translation of ERC research into commercially viable products, stimulate formation of start-up companies based on ERC intellectual property, and involve students in all phases of the innovation process. Increase the diversity of the proposed Center?s leadership, faculty, and students to exceed academic engineering-wide national averages within the first five years of operation. Intellectual Merit: In addition to social, economic, and market challenges to be addressed by the ERC and by the power industry as a whole, barriers include needs for: new system theory for the paradigm-shifting FREEDM system; new high-frequency high-voltage power electronics based on wide bandgap materials; and significantly higher energy density storage technologies. Innovative development of such an infrastructure cannot be expected to occur in todays centralized model, where power companies seek only incremental solutions and research investments are suppressed to maximize profits. The systems approach required cannot be expected to occur through individual research projects with no common standards or test bed. To develop the FREEDM system, a multidisciplinary center of excellence is needed to pull together our nation?s top expertise in energy system theory, policy, renewable energy technology, energy storage technology, electronic devices, and communication. Broader Impacts include an increasingly diverse and innovative pool of U.S. engineers; mitigation of global warming; aversion of an energy crisis; innovation in renewable energy systems developed with industry leading to new products, companies, and jobs; integration of innovation in multidisciplinary training for graduate and undergraduate students; broadening participation in power engineering through integrated research activities for K-12 teachers and students; and improved faculty and graduate student skills in mentoring minorities and women.

Project Outcomes Report


This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

The FREEDM System was originally envisioned as an Energy Internet that would allow energy from any source, and for any end use, to be generated, stored, transmitted, and used seamlessly at the distribution level of the power system.  The FREEDM concept is fundamentally different from the existing legacy system which is based on centralized generation and one-way delivery to the end utilization equipment.  While the concept is simple the technology to enable the construction of such a system did not exist the beginning of the Project.  The several critical technologies necessary to make this revolutionary power system a reality were developed, modeled, physically constructed, and validated during the course of the Project.   

The FREEDM system has been demonstrated in three testbeds, viz. (1) The Large Scale System Simulation (LSSS) testbed, (2) Hardware-in-the-Loop (HIL) testbed, and (3) the Green Energy Hub (GEH) testbed.  Each of the testbeds provid different but related functions:  The LSSS testbed is a software- based modeled system, while the HIL testbed allows for varying levels of hardware, software, and controller hardware to be tested in a real-time modeling environment.  The hardware based Green Energy Hub (GEH) testbed, with a 1 MW, 12.47 kV distribution bus, is used for experimental evaluation of Center or industry developed hardware and/or controls. 

The FREEDM Systems Center accomplished its mission goal of advancing the development, commercialization, and awareness of advanced energy distribution technologies in its eleven years of operation.  Presently, FREEDM continues operations with funding from research grants, fees from industry members, and an endowment started with a gift from Duke Energy.

Intellectual Merit:

The FREEDM system will revolutionize the way electric utilities interface with customers on the utility grid. The core technology in the system is the energy router, the combination of a Solid State Transformer (SST) with embedded Distributed Grid Intelligence (DGI) and Reliable and Secure Communication (RSC). The overall system also includes Fault Isolation Devices (FIDs), and Distributed Energy Storage Devices (DESDs).  The FREEDM Center has developed four generations of SSTs, FIDs, and DESDs to effectively manage the flow and storage of energy on the utility grid.  The fundamental science thrusts developed Wide Bandgap Devices for the components as well as stable and robust control algorithms for a reliable and resilient FREEDM system.  The cutting-edge post silicon devices developed at the Center push voltage, current, temperature, and efficiency to levels never before achieved; these devices will naturally broaden the use of energy-saving technologies that will, in turn, reduce device and system costs.  In other developments, fundamental virtual oscillator-based controls with system feasibility and stability analysis show promise for a novel distributed control approach for FREEDM systems.

A comprehensive cost-benefit analysis has quantified the value proposition of the FREEDM system.  With regard to innovation and entrepreneurship, the Center has made a very strong showing with a 116 invention disclosures, 40 issued patent applications, 30 patent awards, and ten spin-off companies. 

Broader Impacts:

In eleven years of operation, the FREEDM Systems Center has worked with electric utilities, electric equipment manufacturers, systems installers, software developers, consultants, and trade organizations to identify stakeholders and to understand the key challenges to creating an efficient and flexible energy delivery system; system architectures and use-cases have been developed for the proposed systems.  The FREEDM Center team has created, and continues to create, a broad array of technologies that has application well beyond electric distribution systems.  Examples include the use of DC power distribution for electric vehicle charging and for data centers, uses that improve both reliability and efficiency.

The Center continues to produce skilled graduates at the Masters and PhD levels while broadening participation through attracting a diverse group of talented students at all levels by maintaining partnerships with pre-college institutions to promote STEM education.  The Center established a diversity program and, as a part of that effort, employed a full-time Diversity Director.  The program was successful in promoting diversity in the System’s education and research programs.  Since 2008, 208 PhD students and 191 Masters students working with the Center were granted degrees; overall, the Center has produced more than twelve hundred papers in journals and conference proceedings from core, associated and sponsored projects. 

The Center continues to work with members and spin off companies to move Center-developed technology into commercial production and deployment.  The Center faculty worked to spin off a sister institute called PowerAmerica, which is a National Network of Manufacturing Institute (NNMI).  The purpose of PowerAmerica is to ensure a reliable, affordable, domestic source for specialized power semiconductors for Center members to utilize in their designs.  Under the auspices of FREEDM, an international trilateral NSF-SFI-DEL Center-to-Center collaboration project “Collaborative REsearch of Decentralization, ElectrificatioN, Communications and Economics (CREDENCE)” was started in 2017 to develop the socio-economic mechanisms for establishing the optimum levels of decentralization and electrification in order to achieve carbon reduction goals.


Last Modified: 12/23/2019
Modified by: Iqbal Husain

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