Grainger CEME

Center for Electric Machinery and Electromechanics

InSPIRE Solar Powered Outdoors Table (SPOT)

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Solar panels mounted on picnic table to power outlets for charging cell phones, tables, etc.The SPOT project is a completely student-designed and -implemented outdoors table retrofitted with solar panels used to charge an off-grid solar energy system. The plan is to provide students a space to sit and study outside while charging their devices (cellphones, tablets, laptops, etc.) using solar energy, and allow them to interact with solar energy first-hand through the panels right in front of them. A QR code on the SPOT will direct students and registered student organization (RSO) leads to a website detailing design and construction plans. This will allow students and other RSOs to replicate the project or parts of it. The website will also include instructions to create an off-grid solar energy system, one of the most easily customizable and accessible types of solar-energy projects for anybody with an introductory understanding of electronics.
The current design includes four 185W BP solar panels with a 24V 50AH battery bank. Solar panels were made available by the ECE Power and Energy group. Power will be supplied via standard 3-prong outlets and USB ports, which will output standard 60H alternating current. With sufficient charge in the battery bank, the system can simultaneously power four laptops and four tablets. From 100% battery charge (without solar panels), the system can charge (from 0 to 100%) the average laptop 9 x, cellphone 30 x and tablet 18 x, on estimate. The electrical system was reviewed by Professor Philip Krein.
The structural design includes a commercially purchased recycled plastic picnic table, two 4” galvanized poles and solar panel mounts, custom-made concrete blocks (to stabilize the poles), and outlet bases. We are working with Facilities and Services (F&S) to ensure the structure is up to code. The system will also be grounded using two 8’ grounding rods.
The SPOT project is funded by the UIUC Student Sustainability Committee. The InSPIRE RSO is sponsored by Professor Eric Benson, College of Art and Design. The electrical design and construction of the solar energy system was done in the ECEB Open Lab, and concrete work for the structural design in Newmark lab. The location will likely be on the north quad, with approval from the F&S Architectural Committee, local facility managers near the proposed locations, and other relevant officials. Construction is expected early fall 2020.
The project team branch of the InSPIRE RSO currently consists of ten members from Grainger Engineering, ACES and other colleges. As of March 2020, most of the structural design was completed and the off-grid solar energy system tested outside for about one month.

Securing Flight’s Clean Future with Cryogenics and Superconductivity

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Professor Haran's research group

Professor Haran΄s research group. Joshua is fifth from left in the back row.

Joshua Feldman, a graduate student in Professor Kiruba Haran΄s research group, is currently working to solve a rather lofty problem… literally. They are addressing the uncertain outcome of airline travel in an envirocentric future by developing a superconducting motor with the help of cryogenics. The goal is to produce a fully superconducting motor with an output of roughly 2.5 MW.
The research is funded by the Cryogenic Hydrogen Energy Electric Transport Aircraft (CHEETA) NASA grant, a $6 million, three-year collaboration between the University of Illinois and several other research institutions, to design a fully electric concept airplane for commercial air travel and develop the technologies necessary for the plane΄s realization. Researchers comprise Boeing Research and Technology, General Electric Global Research, The Ohio State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Arkansas, the University of Dayton Research Institute and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Along with Haran΄s group, with its superconducting propulsion motors, each of the teams is responsible for a different component of the plane including aerodynamics, fuel storage, electronics and power systems.
“Rising greenhouse gas emissions are worrying, the rise and volatility of fuel prices threatens the global economy by making air travel less economical, and noise from jet engines irritates local communities. These problems point to electric propulsion, using alternative fuels, as our solution,” said Feldman in an interview with Cold Facts. The proposed alternative fuel? Liquid hydrogen.
Challenges include minimizing the high ac losses produced by the stationary high-temperature superconducting coils and heat losses from the motor spinning at 3000 to 4500 RPM—up to 3000 to 4000 Watts of heat. Joshua is focused on the latter.
Excerpted from an article in Cold Facts, vol 35, no 6: Read more about Joshua΄s contribution in “Hydrogen-Based Cooling System for a Fully Superconducting Machine” (Motor Design Operation and Control Projects)

Banerjee Receives NSF CAREER Award for Work Emulating a Biological Spine in Robots

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Illinois ECE Assistant Professor Arijit Banerjee recently won the NSF CAREER award for his work with bio-inspired design methods for distributed electromechanical actuators to emulate a biological spine. This prestigious award supports early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.
Banerjee΄s award-winning work focuses on creating a class of modular and distributed electromechanical actuators and developing a power network that will enable robots to be agile, efficient, and capable of reproducing biological motions that today are impossible.
“Our research envisions [advancing]… power networks and actuators in robots to converge with the exploding capability of artificial intelligence and autonomous control, saving human lives and enhancing national security,” said Banerjee. “The integrated education and outreach plan aims to ignite curiosity in students about electromechanics and power electronics—foundations of our modern civilization—by using robotics as the catalyst.”
Although state-of-the-art bio-inspired robots have achieved exquisite maneuvers, such systems have yet to closely replicate the grace, fluidity, and agility of their biological counterparts. Banjeree΄s work tackles a critical need to re-imagine these robots as a complex network of electromechanical actuators by emulating a biological spine.
A distributed actuator mimicking the spine mechanism will improve mobility, efficiency, and stability of robots in search, rescue, and recovery making them the first line of defense for disaster relief as well as surveillance reconnaissance, inspection, and exploration applications.
By building a hardware prototype of a synthetic spine, the project plans to construct demonstration kits using research results that connect math and theory to the craft of real-world systems such as robots and automated systems. The demo kit blueprint will be shared with K–12 educators to help them teach their STEM clubs.

Excerpted from an article by Joseph Park:

Read more in “A Distributed Spring-Aided Vertical Electromechanical Spine for Bio-Inspired Robots” by Bonhyun Ku (Advanced Research Projects)

Banerjee and Bose Empower/Recharge Educators During CISTEME365 Session on Power and Energy

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During the CISTEME365 Institute from July 22–August 3, 2019, Assistant Professors Subhonmesh Bose and Arijit Banerjee gave a session on power and energy to 13 educators participating in the institute. Part of the three-year NSF grant, Catalyzing Inclusive STEM Experiences All Year Round CISTEME365, their integrated

Bose presenting a demo to teachers

Subhonmesh Bose presents demo

Anita Alicea participating in demo

Anita Alicea, a STEM integration specialist at Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy, Chicago

presentation walked through a history of power systems, the physics behind electromechanical energy conversion,

and shared research frontiers in power and energy. They included fun and exciting demos and a dialogue between the K–12 and higher education teachers on STEM pedagogy beneficial for all ages.
Bose discussed principles about the electric power grid, addressing algorithm and market-design questions that arise in integration of variable renewable and distributed energy resources in the grid. To achieve his goals, Bose utilizes optimization, control theory, microeconomics, and game theory tools. His current projects include optimization of dispatch with variable wind, designing meaningful prices for wholesale electricity markets under uncertainty, market design for multi-area power systems, and electrification of transportation.

Arigit Banergee presents demo during CISTEME365 session on Power adn Energy

Arijit Banerjee explains demo

Banerjee΄s research involves advancing energy conversion by functionally integrating power electronics, electromechanics, and control, especially via creating new energy-conversion architectures. Real-world applications include: renewable energy systems, robotics, system-level monitoring and diagnostics, and, like Bose, electric transportation systems. He plans to develop low-cost alternatives to his demos for teachers to implement in their classrooms.

Excerpted from “I-STEM Education Initiative” article by Elizabeth Innes

NASA Backs Development of Cryogenic Hydrogen System to Power All-Electric Aircraft – CHEETA

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NASA Backs Development of Cryogenic Hydrogen System to Power All-Electric Aircraft - CHEETA

Artist’s rendering of commercial transport aircraft concept utilizing CHEETA systems

University of Illinois has announced that NASA is underwriting a project to develop a cryogenic hydrogen fuel cell system for powering all-electric aircraft. Funded by a three-year, US$6 million contract, the Center for Cryogenic High-Efficiency Electrical Technologies for Aircraft (CHEETA) will investigate the technology needed to produce a practical all-electric design to replace conventional fossil fuel propulsion systems. Assistant Professor Phillip Ansell in the Aerospace Department is PI and Electrical and Computer Engineering Associate Professor Kiruba Haran is Co-PI.

Significant seed funding from the Grainger CEME supported Professor Haran’s vision for this high-risk cryogenic research. It is validated by CHEETA, a consortium of nine institutions that includes the Air Force Research Laboratory, Boeing Research and Technology, General Electric Global Research, Ohio State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Arkansas, the University of Dayton Research Institute, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

“Essentially, the program focuses on the development of a fully electric aircraft platform that uses cryogenic liquid hydrogen as an energy storage method,” says Phillip Ansell. “The hydrogen chemical energy is converted to electrical energy through a series of fuel cells, which drive the ultra-efficient electric propulsion system. The low temperature requirements of the hydrogen system also provide opportunities to use superconducting, or lossless, energy transmission and high-power motor systems.”

NASA Backs Development of Cryogenic Hydrogen System to Power All-Electric Aircraft - CHEETA

Concept sketch of fully electric aircraft platform that uses cryogenic liquid hydrogen as an energy storage method

“It’s similar to how MRIs work, magnetic resonance imaging. However, these necessary electrical drivetrain systems do not yet exist, and the methods for integrating electrically driven propulsion technologies into an aircraft platform have not yet been effectively established. This program seeks to address this gap and make foundational contributions in technologies that will enable fully electric aircraft of the future.

“Advances in recent years on non-cryogenic machines and drives have brought electric propulsion of commercial regional jets closer to reality, but practical cryogenic systems remain the ‘holy grail’ for large aircraft because of their unmatched power density and efficiency,” says Professor Kiruba Haran. “The partnerships that have been established for this project position us well to address the significant technical hurdles that exist along this path.”
Excepted from article by David Szondy, University of Illinois.

Arijit Banerjee Wins the Ronald W. Pratt Teaching Award

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The Ronald W. Pratt Faculty Outstanding Teaching Award recognizes Banerjee’s sustained excellence in undergraduate teaching and his guidance of undergraduate students. Faculty are nominated for the award by current and former students. The department then collects letters of recommendation from other ECE professors and colleagues, as well as from former students who have since moved to graduate work or careers in industry.

Arijit Banerjee Wins the Ronald W. Pratt Teaching Award
Arijit’s response to receiving the award: “It is a great honor for me to get recognized by my students and colleagues. I am grateful to all my students, teaching assistants, and graders because learning and teaching is teamwork and everyone adds value to this process,” said Banerjee. “In particular, I am grateful to students who took or are taking ECE 464 (Power Electronics). Their motivation to enroll and show up to lectures starting at 8:30 on Monday mornings always inspires me.”

“Megawatt-Scale Power-Electronic-Integrated Generator with Controlled DC Output,” ARPA-E $2 Million Grant Awarded to Professors Arijit Banerjee, Alejandro Domínguez-García, George Gross and Kiruba Haran

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Megawatt-Scale Power-Electronic-Integrated Generator with Controlled DC Output ARPA-E $2 Million Grant Awared to Professors Arijit Banerjee, Alejandro Dominguez-Garcia, George Gross and KIruba HaranHigh efficiency, power density, and reliability are critical in megawatt-class wind energy conversion systems. Operating over a limited speed range, the generator ac output is usually rectified first to dc, enabling subsequent connection to an electric grid. Conventional high-power ac-to-dc conversion architectures predominantly rely on using fully controlled power-electronic switches, making the system bulky, lossy, and less reliable. Our objective is to create the world’s most efficient, reliable, and compact wind energy conversion system through an alternative approach: integrating a multi-port permanent-magnet synchronous generator (PMSG) with series-stacked power converters made of active and passive rectifiers. The active rectifier, made of fully controlled power-electronic switches such as IGBTs or SiC MOSFETs, regulates the dc bus voltage while passive rectifiers, made of diodes, Megawatt-Scale Power-Electronic-Integrated Generator with Controlled DC Output ARPA-E $2 Million Grant Awared to Professors Arijit Banerjee, Alejandro Dominguez-Garcia, George Gross and KIruba Haranprocesses bulk of the power. The passive rectifiers operate with a high input power factor by eliminating the filter capacitors at the dc output. Theoretical analysis shows that the active rectifier processes only a maximum of 25% of the rated power while the PMSG operates in a speed range similar to the conventional doubly-fed induction generator—the workhorse of modern wind power industry.

This grant builds on research funded by the CEME to support Professor Banerjee’s student Phuc Huynh’s work studying efficient off-shore wind generators. It is supporting him and the work of four additional CEME students. (Description from ARPA-E abstract.)

The Illini Solar Car Team Won Fourth Place at the 2019 Formula Sun Grand Prix

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Over the last year, the Illini Solar Car team has worked hard designing and manufacturing a second-generation vehicle. They improved its operations and competitiveness resulting in a fourth-place finish at the 2019 Formula Sun Grand Prix. This race marked a successful finish for the team’s first car, Argo, as it placed right behind three newer cars with better technology. Moving forward, this suggests continued success and improvement as the team works to complete its second vehicle to compete in the 2020 American Solar Challenge. The next generation vehicle has been designed to be more efficient in many ways with a significantly improved solar array and many other technological improvements, including a more reliable battery, new driver interfaces and a more efficient motor and power system. In total, the Illini Solar Car team has continuously improved through its first five years and is set to perform even better in the future. (See Curriculum and Laboratory Development on page 25 for more information on the solar car class.)

GLEE – Girls Learning Electrical Engineering

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GLEE - Girls Learning Electrical EngineeringFor the last three years, Professors Arijit Banerjee and Subhonmesh Bose (Bose) have given interactive presentations on power systems and power conversion to sophomore through senior high school girls during GLEE summer camps held at the U of I. GLEE, a week-long program which showcases ECE, was created by and is coordinated by Professor Lynford Goddard. Campers explore how their lives are affected by electrical engineering and how it addresses socially relevant issues.

Arijit and Bose teamed up to challenge the girls on ways power systems are used in a rock concert, in air

GLEE - Girls Learning Electrical Engineering

ECE Professor Lynford Goddard

conditioning, for Instagram, the internet, and preparing breakfast. They then considered power sources and electromechanical energy conversion, e.g., using moving water to run a generator to provide electricity to send power to customers, or using energy from eating breakfast to pedal a bike hooked up to light bulbs to turn them on. The girls realized they could not consider living without electrical power and wondered how it could be made accessible to everyone in the world.

Bose talked about the history of electricity—Edison, Tesla, and the battle of the currents, and the need to step up and step down current to transmit it over long distances. He addressed reliability, which involves a delicate balance of demand and supply at all times, since we cannot keep an electricity inventory.
Arijit led the girls to experiment with magnets and magnetic fields to feel magnetic force and test different materials, including copper, aluminum, and plastic. He told them about the magnetic strip on credit cards.GLEE - Girls Learning Electrical Engineering

Bose described the U.S. grid’s three giant systems—Western, Eastern and Texas with its 160,000 miles of thigh voltage transmission—and a generation portfolio moving from coal and natural gas to renewables, including solar, wind, and hydro. The challenge is to economically move the generated renewable power, e.g., wind in Kansas, to high-demand locations.

Breaking News – ECE Building Awarded LEED Platinum Certification

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The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering building at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been awarded LEED Platinum certification. ECE achieved this certification for implementing practical and measurable strategies and solutions aimed at achieving high performance in: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, sustainable construction and waste management, and indoor environmental quality.

The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is the foremost program for buildings, homes, and communities that are designed, constructed, maintained and operated for improved environmental and human health performance. LEED Platinum certification is the highest rating awarded by the USGBC. The rating considers construction materials, processes, water management, lighting, ventilation, energy, and a long list of attributes for sustainability and quality of life.

“Illinois ECE’s LEED certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC. “LEED was created to make the world a better place and revolutionize the built environment by providing everyone with a healthy, green and high performing buildings. Illinois ECE serves as a prime example of how the work of innovative building projects can use local solutions to make a global impact on the environment. Buildings that achieve LEED certification are lowering carbon emissions, creating a healthier environment and reducing operating costs while prioritizing sustainable practices. Because of Illinois ECE, we are increasing the number of green buildings and getting closer to USGBC’s goal to outpace conventional buildings, while being environmentally and socially responsible and improving the quality of life for generations to come.”

This news release was excerpted from written by ECE Communications Coordinator Ryann Monahan.