Grainger CEME

Center for Electric Machinery and Electromechanics

POETS Director’s Company Hinetics Awarded $5.7M of the More than $10M to POETS Faculty to Develop Clean Energy Technologies

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Three out of the 68 research and development projects nationwide aimed at developing disruptive technologies to strengthen the U.S. advanced energy enterprise were awarded to POETS faculty, including Professor Kiruba Haran.
Led by the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, the OPEN 2021 program prioritizes funding high-impact, high-risk technologies that support novel approaches to clean energy challenges.
Professor Haran’s startup company, Hinetics, will lead an OPEN 2021 project, Cryogen-fRee Ultra-high fIeld Superconducting Electric (CRUISE) Motor, which was awarded $5.7 million. The company, alongside UIUC and POETS researchers, will develop and demonstrate a high-power density electric machine to enable electrified aircraft propulsion systems up to 10 MW and beyond. Hinetics’ technology uses a superconducting machine design that eliminates the need for cryogenic auxiliary systems yet maintains low total mass. The concept features a sub-20 K Stirling-cycle cooler integrated with a low-loss rotor, magnetic fields on an order of magnitude higher than conventional machines, and a novel coil suspension and torque transfer system with tensioned fibers that cut the cryogenic heat-load by a factor of 10 to eliminate the need for external coolers. This design could enable a 10 MW, 3000 RPM aircraft propulsion motor weighing less than 250 kilograms that rejects up to 10 times less total heat to the ambient environment—achieving more than 99% efficiency.

See and from which this piece was excerpted.

ECEB Lobby Energy Display: 0-Net Energy, Learning about Energy Efficiency, and Solar Phone Charger Drawing

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Elaine is a Computer Science major who had a class in the Grainger Auditorium and stopped to interact with the energy kiosks and the large display screen depicting an ECEB energy efficiency. She chose to conserve heat and ac and turn off the lights and unplug appliances when not in use. Elaine walks or takes the bus to save energy for transportation to classes. She thought perhaps in the future we could run a contest for conserving energy.

The UIUC Student Sustainability Committee funded an energy display in the ECEB lobby to accomplish three goals. The first uses kiosks to teach students, faculty and campus visitors about energy use while presenting relatable and significant ways they can reduce energy-consumption patterns. The second is to show on a large screen energy being produced by the ECEB solar array, energy being used by ECEB, and ECEB’s allotment from Solar Farm 2 to reach zero net energy. The third is to demonstrate ECEB’s energy efficiencies and document its progress toward certification as the first zero-net energy building on campus.
To achieve the first goal, two touch-activated kiosks were installed and programmed identically for Engineering Open House 2021 by a Computer Science RSO headed by undergraduates Mitchell Bifeld and Smit Purohit. Kiosk visitors choose from several options and pledge to save energy. Their names are entered into random drawings twice a year: Energy Efficiency Day in October, and Earth Day in April. The first solar phone charger was awarded to Elaine Minghui Wang. Joyce Mast is handing her the charger.

Energy-saving choices. Other screens list UIUC classes on sustainability and ways to help save energy on campus, including Friday Night Lights Out.

Enough Power for EVs?

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“With the rush to move to all electric vehicles, have the electric power generation companies been consulted? With all of the coal fired power plants being phased out, and no new nuclear plants coming online, will wind and solar be able to pick up the load? Worst case is we are building another bottle-neck that could raise utility rates for all of us, and make electric vehicles much more expensive.” Question from Tom’s Mailbag from the News-Gazette, February 4. 2021.

“It is a little hard to call it a ‘rush,’” said Phil Krein, a professor emeritus at the Grainger Center for Electric Machinery and Electromechanics at the University of Illinois. “The research community, transportation industry, and electric power industry have been engaged intensively on this issue over the past 25 years or so. Our regional utility, Ameren, is taking a leadership role.”
“In Illinois the growth in wind and solar electricity sources is far outpacing the growth in load from electric transportation,” Krein said. “The Federal Highway Administration’s 2016 Highway Statistics Report indicates about 10 million cars and trucks registered in Illinois. A transition of a few million of these to electrical energy is well within projected resource growth.”
“There’s plenty of generating capacity in Illinois and the Midwest to meet the demand,” he said. “And utility companies will incentivize consumers charging electric vehicles at times when power demand is lower.”
“Some will charge at night, some will charge at work. But the economic incentives will be such that it will tend to spread (demand) out,” said Krein. “They already have some of those rates in place.”
“A million (electric vehicles) is only 10 percent (of vehicles on the road in Illinois). It might get dicey when you get to 50 or 60 percent but by that time we should have our act together in many other ways as well. All the studies have shown that at 10 percent the impact on the grid is pretty minimal.”
“Illinois is better off than other states for a few reasons,” he said.
“Number one, despite their age and issues, we have a substantial nuclear power base. That’s a positive. Second is that although we don’t have the kind of wind resources that North Dakota or Nebraska have, we’ve got good wind resources and good solar resources. The other thing is that Illinois, in a sort of technical sense, is in the middle of the power grid and power flows through Illinois and we have really strong interconnections to resources. So when things go wrong we can be buying power from Tennessee and Indiana and Michigan and wherever.”

See TOM KACICH from which this piece was excerpted.

ECE Researchers Part of $25 Million Grid-Integration Technology Consortium

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Research Engineer Olaolu Ajala (MS’14, PhD ’18) (left) and
Professor Alejandro Domínguez-García (right) in their research lab

Illinois ECE Professor Alejandro Domínguez-García and Research Engineer Olaolu Ajala are part of a $25 million Department of Energy-funded consortium that is addressing the reliability challenges involved in integrating more solar and wind energy onto the nation’s electric grid.
The Universal Interoperability for Grid-Forming Inverters (UNIFI) consortium brings together leading researchers from more than 40 university, industry, and utility organizations to evaluate and design grid-forming inverter solutions that will enable the seamless integration of inverter-based renewable resources while ensuring the grid’s stability and reliability.
“What we aim to do is figure out how to operate the power grid with a very large amount of renewable-based generation instead of using fossil fuel generating units,” said Alejandro. “The technology we need to use to achieve that is very different from the technology we currently have in the grid for generating power.” Alejandro and Olaolu will apply their expertise in control algorithm design, modeling, and simulation, to ensure that a future renewable-based system operates reliably.
“You don’t have the luxury to [validate your designs] in a real power system because it is already in operation,” Olaolu added. Instead, the Illinois researchers will perform testing and validation of their algorithms in a hardware-in-the-loop emulation environment, a sophisticated simulation technique of a real system that has been used by the automotive and aircraft industries for years. They’ll also examine how to scale their emulation schemes to large-scale power grids.
UNIFI is led by the National Renewable Energy Lab, the University of Washington, and the Electric Power Research Institute.

See 12/6/2021 article by Laura Schmitt from which this piece was excerpted: ECE Professor Alejandro Dominguez-Garcia and Research Engineer and wind energy into the nation’s electric grid.

Banerjee Named Fellow of Center for Advanced Study

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Arijit Banerjee

Professor Arijit Banerjee has been named Fellow of the Center or Advanced Study, providing one semester of release time for creative work during the 2022-23 school year. The announcement was made during the Board of Trustees Meeting on January 20, 2022. He plans to further his research on robots with a flexible spine.

Haran Named Grainger CEME Endowed Director’s Chair and Director of POETS

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Kiruba Haran

On March 2, 2022, Professor Kiruba Haran was invested as the Grainger Endowed Director’s Chair in Electric Machinery and Electromechanics, and on January 7, 2022, he was named new Director of the Center for Power Optimization of Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS) in the Grainger College of Engineering.
Professor Haran has taken over leadership of the Grainger Center for Electric Machinery and Electromechanics (CEME) from founder and former director Professor Emeritus Philip Krein. In moving from Associate Director to Director, he is exchanging roles with Professor Krein, who is continuing his research in electrified transportation.
As POETS director, Professor Haran is stepping into the role of former Mechanical Sciences and Engineering Director Andrew Alleyne, recently appointed Dean of the College of Engineering and Sciences at the University of Minnesota. Professor Alleyne secured an $18.5M grant from the National Science Foundation in 2015 to found POETS, “a key enabler in providing an increase in power density through advanced technology and workforce development, considering both the electrical and thermal systems from initial design concept and optimization through actual deployment in fielded vehicle testbeds. The goal is to break down the silos between different disciplines to co-design and co-operate these power-dense electro-thermal systems.”
College of Engineering Dean Rashid Bashir stated, “Professor Haran will provide leadership for the POETS Center at the college level. He will advance the vision and mission of the center to raise the college leadership profile, nationally and internationally, in the areas of electrical and thermal systems. He has been a key faculty investigator in the POETS Center; thus, he has a vision and direct experience to lead it to the next level.”

For more information on the POETS Consortium, see and on this appointment, see from which this article was excerpted.

IEEE Power Electronics Society Young Professionals Feature Webinars by Katherine Kim and Pradeep Shenoy

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Katherine Kim

Katherine Kim

Katherine A. Kim and Pradeep Shenoy, alumni advisees of Professor Krein, were sponsored by the IEEE Power Electronics Society (PELS), as promising young professionals, to give webinars this spring. Katherine’s title “Developing Online Educational Videos for a Global Audience” is in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and the move toward online education. She received her MS and PhD degrees in ECE from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2011 and 2014, respectively. Katherine was an Assistant Professor of ECE at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, Ulsan, South Korea, from 2014–2018. Since 2019, she has been an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan. She received the Richard M. Bass Outstanding Young Power Electronics Engineer Award from IEEE PELS in 2019, and recognition as an Innovator Under 35 for the Asia Pacific Region by the MIT Technology Review in 2020. For IEEE PELS, Katherine served as the Student Membership Chair in 2013–2014, PELS Member-at-Large for 2016–2018, PELS Women in Engineering Chair in 2018–2020, and currently leads the PELS Educational Videos Committee.

Pradeep Shenoy

Pradeep Shenoy

Pradeep’s webinar title is “EMI Reduction Techniques for Automotive Power Conversion Systems” focusing on automotive applications. He leads Texas Instrument’s Power Design Services team focused on the automotive, telecommunications, and enterprise computing markets. He has served in several roles in IEEE PELS including Associate Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics, Ad-Com Member-at-Large, Young Professionals Chair, Industry Advisory Board, Chapter Chair, and Regional Chair. He is active in the Applied Power Electronics Conference organizing committee and served as a DC-DC Converter Track Chair for several years. Pradeep obtained his MS and PhD degrees from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He received various awards including the Illinois International Graduate Achievement Award in 2010, the Jack Kilby Award for Innovation in 2015, and Richard M. Bass Outstanding Young Power Electronics Engineer Award in 2020. Both Katherine and Pradeep served in leadership roles in the IEEE Power and Engineering Conference at Illinois.

S’mores Solar Oven Demo and ECE Solar Panels

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Joyce Mast & Annabelle Epplin

Joyce Mast & Annabelle Epplin

Annabelle Epplin, the 2020 winner of The Grainger CEME Undergraduate Research and Leadership Award, and Joyce Mast, Coordinator for The Grainger Center for Electric Machinery and Electromechanics, demonstrated making s’mores with a solar oven while discussing the Electrical and Computer Engineering Building (ECEB)’s solar array.

ECEB has about 950 solar panels producing about 275 kilowatts of energy during peak usage. This is about one fifth of the building’s needs. Sixty panels (see arrow, center right, below) are dedicated to student and faculty research. Each panel can immediately convert energy produced into ready-to-use ac energy, directly connecting to the university’s power grid. ECEB’s panels comprise one of the largest ac solar installations of its kind and allow a 30% reduction in energy emissions, which is about 200,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. The solar panels figured strongly into ECEB’s achieving LEED Platinum certification.

s'moreFor a video of ECEB’s solar panels and information on melting marshmallows in a pizza-box solar oven, see

Carle Illinois Welcomes Haran and Oelze

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Kiruba Haran

Kiruba Haran

Eight faculty from The Grainger College of Engineering have joined Carle Illinois College of Medicine with Health Innovation Professor appointments, including Illinois ECE professors Kiruba Haran and Michael Oelze. The new faculty deliver on Carle Illinois’ strategy to leverage the University of Illinois’ exceptional faculty to serve as agents of change in medical education, innovation, and research at the world’s first engineering-based college of medicine.

“As champions of interdisciplinary health research, the new professors will advance the discovery and translation of breakthrough health innovations that have the potential to improve patient care and outcomes,” said King Li, Dean of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. “They will help to pioneer new approaches to medical education and integrate health innovation concepts into graduate and undergraduate courses across the UIUC campus.”

The new Health Innovation faculty represent a range of engineering disciplines and are positioned to be drivers of innovation in medicine and healthcare, which will fuel health-related funding from government agencies, industry, foundations, and individuals, and inspire a range of new cause-based philanthropic giving campaigns.
“Carle Illinois Health Innovation Professors recognize the value of translating new ideas to innovations and to impact, and several are founders of new biotech, medical device, and digital health companies. They will help Carle Illinois to fill the Research Park and the envisioned Health Innovation Translator facility, fulfill the vision of the Discovery Partners Institute, and promote economic prosperity throughout Illinois,” said Illinois ECE Professor Stephen Allen Boppart, Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering and Carle Illinois’ Executive Associate Dean and Chief Diversity Officer.

Haran’s research focuses on electric transportation, electrical machines and drive systems, and power and energy systems. His research group is focused on electro-mechanical energy conversion technologies, with new interests in how these can be applied to medical devices and medical technologies.

Excerpted from an article by Ryann Monahan, Carle Illinois College of Medicine.

Illinois ECE Graduate Student Wins Prestigious IEEE Awards

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Megan Culler

Megan Culler

llinois ECE graduate student Megan Culler, advisee of Professor Peter Sauer, recently won the 2019 IEEE-USA Jim Watson Student Professional Awareness Achievement Award, recognizing IEEE members who volunteer to share their professional experiences with students and encourage active, lifelong IEEE membership. This award was established in 2011, but this is the first year that a student has been selected as the recipient.

Culler also received the IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES) Outstanding Student Scholarship Award for IEEE Region 4. This award is given to a graduate student who is pursuing a career in electric power and energy engineering and has demonstrated a high level of academic success, contributions to community and humanitarian needs, and leadership in advancing student engagement within PES. This is the first year of this award and she is the only recipient from the United States.

“It’s a huge honor to receive these awards because IEEE is such a large and prestigious organization in my field,” Culler said. “The 2019 IEEE-USA Jim Watson Student Professional Awareness Achievement Award means a lot to me because I’ve been involved as a student leader in IEEE for pretty much my full college career. I’m honored to be the first student to receive this award, and I think it speaks to all of the dedicated student leaders for IEEE that bring incredible programs to their campuses.” Among these has been the IEEE Power and Energy Conference at Illinois for which she served in registration in 2020 and as co-director in 2021.
Culler plans on graduating in May 2021 with her Master’s in Electrical Engineering with concentrations in power systems and cybersecurity. Following graduation, she will be working at the Idaho National Laboratory where she will use her background in power systems and cybersecurity to work on projects for power grid resiliency and security, with an emphasis on integrating distributed energy resources.

Excerpted from an article by Joseph Park in ECE Newsroom. Read more about Culler’s achievements on the IEEE USA,with%20students%2C%20to%20encourage%20active%2C%20lifelong%20IEEE%20membership.