Power System Emulation
The development from the 20th century power grid towards smart grid is in progress. The requirements for power grids are changing. Indeed, on the one hand power consumption has been steadily increasing and is still increasing, therefore the power grid operates the nearer and nearer at its operating limits. And on the other hand the focus is put on renewable energy leading to a much more complex and less predictable power grid.
For these reasons it is essential to dispose of a high-speed power system simulator which enables online security assessment. Moreover such simulator could be combined with economic aspects to guarantee ideal and instantaneous decision making. Existing digital simulators, which are nowadays used by power system operators, are too slow for faster-than-real-time simulation. Speed can be enhanced by means of dedicated hardware architectures. We are developing two different, promising architectures based on analog emulation. They consist in mixing the competences in electrical power system behavioral modeling, circuit theories and CMOS microelectronic implementation.
These new architectures are based on a modular system. This concept is shown in Figure 1. It contains a CMOS Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) repeated in an array of atoms (c). Such a system is called a Field Programmable Power Network System (FPPNS). Each atom (a) is built with microelectronic models of power system components (transmission lines, generators and loads). Therefore any grid topology can be emulated using this new modular approach. It is sufficient to program the single atoms (c). Both emulation architectures are based on this concept but differ in the way speed enhancement is obtained. Phasor emulation reaches high speed by means of intrinsic parallelism whereas AC emulation uses intrinsic parallelism and frequency transposition.
Figure 1: FPNNS Concept
A first platform of such an emulator has been realized by the ELab. This development platform is able to emulate up to 16 nodes (or reprogrammable atoms) of any reconfigurable power system and is based on the Phasor emulation approach. It is shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Development platform dedicated to power system emulation
In space and high energy physics (HEP) applications it becomes mandatory to solve specific problems concerning the power distribution for high performance electronics in harsh environment. These electronic circuits are mainly used for sensors, communicating data, controlling and processing information. The required supply power is provided by power supplies through a distribution scheme that needs to be studied carefully in order to meet the requirements of space, material, efficiency and tolerance to the harsh radiation environment. For this reason commercial power distribution components cannot be used and custom design need to be targeted. With appropriate modifications of the layout of standard high voltage technologies, radiation tolerance can be achieved. In this picture Stefano is investigating the design of a power distribution scheme based on custom fully integrated rad-hard DC/DC converter.
SiNAPS is a European project supported by FP7 Future and Emerging Technologies. The aim of this project is to develop standalone dust -sized chemical sensing platforms that harvest energy from ambient electromagnetic radiation (light) and will enable miniaturization below the current mm^3 barrier. Elab is responsible for the research of miniaturized CMOS electronics for efficient power management and sensor interface. Other SiNPAS Consortium members will get involved in development of nano-wires based energy harvester and biochemical sensor. You can find more about SiNAPS project at http://www.sinaps-fet.eu/.