Pitt-CMU Team Developing Materials, Processes to Improve Industrial Transformers for Power Converter Technologies

Issue Date: 
October 10, 2011
Gregory ReedGregory Reed

The University of Pittsburgh’s Gregory Reed and colleagues have received a three-year, $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop new materials and processes for improving the efficiency of multicore transformers for energy conversion systems. The work is expected to impact the economic success and global competitiveness of America’s manufacturing sector.

The research could help substantially reduce the size of a standard industrial grid transformer and also improve efficiencies of power electronics conversion systems.

Reed, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Power and Energy Initiative in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, will assess complete systems engineering and turnkey installation aspects of the advanced converter technology for renewable energy applications, including economic impacts.

“This grant is an important component of the continued growth of Pitt’s electric power and energy research for grid infrastructure efforts, and we are excited to be part of this talented team,” Reed said.

“This research will ultimately help make power transformation in renewable energy conversion more economical and efficient in our complex energy grid system,” said lead researcher Michael McHenry, a professor of materials science and engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. “Our work aims to bridge materials development, manufacturing, component design, and economic analysis in one cohesive multidisciplinary team.”

Other team members include Joe Huth, head of research at Pittsburgh-based Spang Inc., a world leader in the production of soft magnetic materials and cores for industrial control applications, and Michael Bland, an engineer and team member from the Los Alamos National Lab.

The Power and Energy Initiative in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, a major component of the University’s Center for Energy, focuses on partnering to meet industry needs in workforce and technology development through innovative education and collaborative research. The initiative’s electric power research group is engaged in a comprehensive range of activities in the areas of advanced electric power grid technologies and systems, including emerging technology development needs for grid-level power electronics technologies and supporting systems and components for both AC and DC system infrastructures. The group also conducts research in aspects of renewable energy integration, energy storage, and smart grid applications.