"In the last 10 years, power electronics has moved significantly towards the electric grid, making it more flexible and decentralized. Still important challenges remain. One of the most thrilling is re-inventing the distribution transformer after more than 125 years since its first use in the electrification of a city. In fact, actual distribution transformers can no longer fulfill the requirements of a modern electric grid highly dominated by distributed sources and new sizable loads, like heat pumps and electric vehicles.
This project proposes the invention of a novel “Smart Transformer” (ST), based on a modular architecture of units made by power electronics converters, that will be able to manage the energy and the information flows among sources and loads in the distribution area with the goal of decoupling it from the rest of the bulk power system. Actual proposals of Smart Transformers cannot compete in terms of cost, efficiency and reliability with traditional transformers.
This project has decided to take this challenge with a paradigm shift in how to approach it and a new set of methodologies. The breakthrough results of this research will be obtained taking the following high-risk high-gain bet: significantly influence the efficiency and the reliability of the Smart Transformer by routing the energy flows among its power converter units. A new understanding of how the energy flows are managed by the modular connection of power converter units will guide the design of new architectures for the ST allowing different routes for the energy. Graph theory will be used to find optimal paths for the energy flows with the goal of maximizing efficiency and reliability. The energy flows will be managed by relying on information coming from the electric distribution system sensors (requirements) and from the power module sensors (constraints).
The holy grail of this research is to provide a new durable heart to the electric distribution system."
Fields of science
Call for proposal
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