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Solid State Universal Intelligent Transformer

It's possible that one of the most important developments of the energy age will be the solid state transformer for power distribution.

This device will act as a 'power supply' for a building. It will deliver the voltages and frequency needed by different systems in the building the same way that a computer power supply delivers several different configurations of power to a computer motherboard.

 

A typical transformer is an induction device whereby electricity is transferred from one winding to another and incresed or decreased based on the relationship of the windings. An Intelligent Universal Transformer (IUT) is a solid state device, a power supply, that can be used to intelligently provide optimal power to loads.

 

taps on the vindings allow the switcing of voltages for this transformer.

Transformers are essential elements of the power grid; they convert the high-voltage electricity delivered by power lines to the 120-volt supply needed for consumers. Typically, one transformer supplies power to several homes. They come in three varieties: the pole-mounted canisters; ground-level metal boxes; and, rarely, underground transformers. See also: Transformers

 

pole-mounted canisters
ground-level metal boxes
underground transformers

Problems with these transformers include:

Power Quality. Equipment in one building may inject a signal into the powerlines which pass through a transformer and could affect equipment in another building.

Efficiency: Transformers consume some of the power they use and their collective impact in the grid is significant.

Limitations: Transformers cannot change the frequency of the electricity passing through it and cannot use direct current.

Static: Once a transformer is set, changes need to be manually made by switching on changing wiring.

Ecology: Power Transformers contain mineral oils, a source of pollution.

The solid state power transformer mitigates all power quality problems, converts all loads to sinusoidal and unity power factor thereby increasing the efficiency of the entire distribution grid, completely mitigates secondary faults, readily supply dc offset loads, and features very low no-load losses. In addition, the design does not utilize mineral oil and is thus environmentally friendly and at the same time is based upon a technology (power electronics) in which component costs are falling sharply.

Benefits of the solid state universal intelligent transformer:

Energy Efficiency: The existing transmission systems can be better optimized. More power can be delivered through the same wires.

Flexibility: The Intelligent Universal Transformer will be able to reliably deliver diverse power duch as 400 Hz service, DC service (for hybrid electrical systems) and three phase power from a single phase line.

Power Quality: Sag correction and harmonic filtering can be built in to the intelligent universal transformer.

Configurable: Because one device can be used in many configurations, inventory and spare parts can be reduced. Maintenance costs are reduced.

Environmental Concerns: The Intelligent Universal Transformers will contain no hazardous liquid dielectrics, such as conventional transformers. The hazards and costs of spills and cleanups will be avoided.

 

The Energy Systems Analysis Consortium (ESAC), comprised of Purdue University, the University of Missouri-Rolla, theUniversity of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Navy Postgraduate School, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has been developing this and already holds one patent. EPRI, holding another patent has published several papers on the project.

Patents:


Deep diode solid state transformer 4024565: General Electric, 1977

An array of columnar structures are provided in a body of semiconductor material. The material of each columnar structure is recrystallized material of the body having solid solubility of dopant metal therein. Means are provided for connecting the columnar structures into two series electrical circuit arrangements to function respectively as the primary and secondary windings of a deep diode solid state transformer.


Multilevel converter based intelligent universal transformer, EPRI, 7,050,311, 2006
A multilevel converter-based, intelligent, universal transformer includes back-to-back, interconnected, multi-level converters coupled to a switched inverter circuit via a high-frequency transformer. The input of the universal transformer can be coupled to a high-voltage distribution system and the output of the universal transformer can be coupled to low-voltage applications. The universal transformer is smaller in size than conventional copper-and-iron based transformers, yet provides enhanced power quality performance and increased functionality.


See also: EPRI

Design Challenges:

A solid state transformer would be semiconductor based and there are are not currently semiconductor material configurations that can handle the 10kV distribution grid voltages.

 

Please contact Mark C. Robinson with comments and updates.

 

Links:

lluminating Engineering Society/North America
Industry Data Exchange Association
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Instrumentation, Systems, and Automation Society
ISA—The Instrumentation, Systems, and Automation Society is a 33,000-member global, nonprofit, educational organization connecting people and ideas in automation. The Society fosters advancement in the theory, design, manufacture, and use of sensors, instruments, computers, and systems for automation in a wide variety of applications.

InterNational Electrical Testing Association (NETA)
National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED)
National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA)
National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA)
National Fire Protection Association
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