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Illinois engineer’s invention expected to be game changer for grid

September 13, 2017 By Molly White in

A researcher at the Illinois Institute of Technology is developing a potentially game-changing power converter that better manages the way renewable energy generation interacts with the grid. 

While a recent Energy Department report received a lot of attention for its conclusions about the generating mix, it also warned that 21st century generating technologies – such as wind and solar — were testing the stability of a transmission system designed in the 20th.

“The rapid changes occurring in the generation resource mix and technologies are altering the operational characteristics of the grid,” said the report, “and will challenge system planners and operators to maintain reliability.”

Which means the laboratories of grid innovation, like the one directed by Dr. Qing-Chang Zhong at the Illinois Institute of Technology, are essential to keeping the lights on.

Zhong is a 47-year-old electrical engineer, trained in China, Israel and England, who arrived three years ago at IIT’s southside Chicago campus to assume an endowed professor’s chair in energy, power engineering, and management – a post that took the school five years to fill.

Zhong brings to the university a sunny and accessible character, and a potentially game-changing invention: A new control device that helps better manage the way electricity from sources like wind and solar interacts with the grid.

The collection of young engineers huddled in Zhong’s basement IIT lab amid a jumble of computer work stations, motherboards, voltage measuring devices, and wires going every which way is a microcosm of the frantic era of invention that grips the state, national, and global electricity supply and transmission sector.

Prodded by technology and the goal of lower costs, inspired by the ideal of cleaner and safer electrical suppliers, Zhong’s crew is a tiny and effective addition to the powerful river of innovation that is rapidly transforming electrical generation and transport. Read more>>

Source: Midwest Energy News