The Energy Innovation Center (EIC), is a renovation of the Connelly Center in downtown Pittsburgh, and is designed,

 … to contribute to socially responsible workforce development, foster energy and sustainable technology advancement, and assist in job creation through a commitment to diversity, innovation and comprehensive education.

In order to help contribute to that broad goal, the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Energy will be a key tenant, comprising almost 20,000 ft2 on the first floor of the EIC, and advancing the modernization of electric power grids, battery technologies, and high temperature materials. As a part of the Center for Energy, the Electric Power Initiative’s off campus research program will be housed in a 5,100 ft2 medium voltage power systems laboratory. Energized up to 13.8 kV, the Pitt Electric Power Technologies and Micro-energy Lab (EPTML) is designed to be rapidly reconfigurable to match immensely varied grid configurations and conditions, from traditional radial feeder systems to novel microgrid designs. Within it, the capability will exist to perform AC or DC system studies, test equipment as an independent third party, and enable power electronic design, rapid prototyping, and testing at the highest level. The new laboratory at the EIC will provide University of Pittsburgh with a unique resource, driving greater collaboration with electric power utilities, equipment vendors, and other universities, and helping to put Pittsburgh on the map as a regional and national energy hub.

Proposed Layout of the Electric Power Technology Laboratory

The EPTML is in the initial design phase, and a team comprised of representatives of Pitt, the Energy Innovation Center, Eaton, and other industry partners has been assembled to bring the laboratory from concept to reality. The design of the laboratory reflects advancement in modern power systems, integrating distributed generation sources into AC and DC microgrids in order to demonstrate and study novel power products, as well as monitoring, control and protective systems. The proposed system layout for the power laboratory can be seen in Fig. 1 below. This design will replicate grid conditions and phenomena ranging from distribution level events at 15 kV and 4.16 kV, to load level events at the residential or commercial level, allowing for demonstration and investigation of grid interactions across a complete system. Beyond AC distribution and load systems across a wide range of voltages, the EPTML will also contain DC distribution equipment energized from 24V to 1kV, creating an environment dedicated to the advancement of both AC and DC power technologies. The configurability of the system allows it to be fluidly changed to reflect a vast variety of grid layouts and conditions, as well as enabling both grid-tied and islanded modes of operation. The result is a facility that will be uniquely capable of integrating education, training, demonstration, and testing, as well as research and development at the cutting edge of the industry. Through collaboration with regional industry leaders, the EPTML will create an environment dedicated to driving power systems advancement in the Pittsburgh region, and provides incredible opportunity to all parties involved.

Fig. 1:

Proposed Layout of the Electric Power Technology Laboratory at the EIC