FREEDM Students Win 2017 NCROEP Poster Contest

Landon Mackey and Md Rifat Kaisar Rachi, PhD EE Candidates at the FREEDM Systems Center won first prize at the North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Program (NCROEP) Symposium held in early April 2017 for their poster entitled “Ultra-Fast Speed DC Circuit Protection for Renewable Energy Distribution Systems”.

“Development of faster and more efficient circuit breakers is incredibly important for DC systems to ensure safe operation of computers, battery backups, solar arrays, electric ships and locomotives and much more,” states Mackey.

The current common practice in Direct Current Distribution is to use oversize AC circuit breakers, which are often cost prohibitive and too slow, or solid state circuit breakers, which although fast enough, consume power and are inefficient.  This research combines advanced electromechanics and circuit dynamics to interrupt DC faults in 1 to 3 milliseconds without consuming power during normal operation. The combination of circuit dynamics and mechanical interruption provide extremely rapid and efficient DC circuit protection.

Mackey’s research is applicable to the entire DC world, including DC microgrids, electric vehicles, solar farms, building distribution and battery backups.  With the continued proliferation of DC systems, there is an increasing need to protect those systems at higher voltage and current levels.

According to Mackey, this research could lead towards advances in the global shift from AC to DC power distribution networks. In reference to his future research, Mackey said, “I hope to continue to develop enabling technologies and infrastructure to encourage increased renewable energy integration and the proliferation of advanced DC power distribution.”

This research was accomplished under the guidance of Dr. Iqbal Husain with support from the University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute. 2017 NCROEP Poster Final