Virginia Tech FEEC
Home Faculty and Staff Students Alumni Projects Affiliates & Sponsors Facilities Publications News & Events Photos

About The FEEC

The Future Energy Electronics Center (FEEC), part of The Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech, promotes and develops energy-efficient electronic technologies for the transportation and industrial automation industries. The Center's capabilities include modeling, simulation, and design and test of power-electronics devices, components, circuits and systems. Former and current sponsors include:

  • AC Power
  • Army Research Labs
  • Ballard Power Systems
  • Danfoss-Turbocor
  • Delphi Research Labs
  • Delphi Power Systems
  • Institute of Nuclear Energy Research
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • National Science Foundation
  • National Semiconductor
  • Northrop Grumman Corporation
  • Powerex, Inc.
  • RhymeBus
  • Rutgers University
  • Tatung System Technologies
  • Total Energy Company
  • United Silicon Carbide
  • U.S. DOE ARPA-E's Innovative and Reliable Circuits Program
  • US DOE Solid State Energy Conversion Alliance Program
  • US DOE FreedomCAR Program
  • Visteon Corporation
  • Vollrath
  • VPT, Inc.

  • Future Energy Electronics Center Awarded a Plus-up Funding from ARPA-E

    The FUTURE ENERGY ELECTRONICS CENTER received a plus-up funding from ARPA-E's, "Creating Innovative and Reliable Circuits Using Inventive Topologies and Semiconductors (CIRCUITS) program", which seeks to accelerate the development and deployment of innovative, high power, high performance electric power converters. CIRCUITS' projects leverage a new class of efficient, lightweight and reliable power converters based on wide bandgap (WBG), semiconductor technology, using materials like silicon carbide or gallium nitride instead of the silicon that is dominant today.
    The objective of the plus-up funding is to develop a hybrid binary multilevel inverter for medium-voltage utility-scale applications. The inverter is rated 7.2 kV, 100 kW using hybridized cascade and flying capacitor combination to achieve synthesize high voltage output with high-voltage devices switching at the fundamental frequency to avoid pulse width modulation which tends to generate high voltage field that can upset the switching and measured signals. The output waveform is step-like with 43 voltage levels that reduces the total harmonic distortion down to less than 2.5%. As a result, the output either connecting to regular resistive-inductive load or the grid can avoid the use of inductor or any filters. With the added funding, the total budget is increased to $1.47M.

    Future Energy Electronics Center Awarded $1.03M from DOE Solar Energy Technology Office

    The FUTURE ENERGY ELECTRONICS CENTER received an Award from DOE Solar Energy Technology Office of $1.03M to develop electrolyte-free microinverter. Through the DOE early Sunshot Program, the solar panel and its ancillary system components have seen dramatic cost reduction over the last ten years. This new initiative is to further the cost reductions to enable widespread solar adoption across the U.S.. The new SunShot goal for 2030 is to cut the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) from utility-scale solar by an additional 50% to $0.03 per kilowatt hour, while also addressing grid integration challenges and key market barriers in order to enable greater solar adoption.
    The main objective of the FEEC project is to eliminate the electrolytic capacitors while converting the PV output DC to AC for grid-tie with an efficiency >98% for a 400-W microinverter. The goal is to achieve >35-year life time and low-cost production such that the LCOE can meet the new Sunshot goal. The approach is to utilize potentially low-cost wide bandgap devices to increase the switching frequency to mega-hertz range so the passive component sizes can be reduced to a level that the entire microinverter can fit into junction box to further reduce the consumption of potting materials and cable connections. In addition to the efficiency gain and cost reduction, the project will incorporate advanced control functionalities to meet the IEEE 1547 Standards requirements.

    Future Energy Electronics Center Awarded $1.05M in Funding

    The FUTURE ENERGY ELECTRONICS CENTER received this competitive award from ARPA-E's, "Creating Innovative and Reliable Circuits Using Inventive Topologies and Semiconductors (CIRCUITS) program", which seeks to accelerate the development and deployment of innovative, high power, high performance electric power converters. CIRCUITS' projects leverage a new class of efficient, lightweight and reliable power converters based on wide bandgap (WBG), semiconductor technology, using materials like silicon carbide or gallium nitride instead of the silicon that is dominant today.
    The objective of the project is to develop a GaN and SiC based, utility scale, high-power (100 kW), multilevel medium-voltage, DC-to-AC inverter that can receive power from sources like batteries or solar panels and transfer it directly to the medium-voltage level utility grid. The team will integrate the developed inverter with an existing medium-voltage AC-to-DC converter to build a bidirectional solid-state transformer that converts low-voltage AC to high-voltage AC without using heavy, low-frequency materials, such as copper and iron in its design. If successful, the project could lead to the first commercially viable medium-voltage solid-state transformer, using just a single-stage process to obtain ultra-high efficiency power conversion.


    AC Power Donates PV ATE Inverter and Verification System

    FEEC is delighted by AC Power's generous contribution towards the High Penetration Solar Deployment Initiative. The PV Inverter and Verification System that AC Power donated is a power conditioning system designed to address power inconsistencies associated with power generation, while at the same time, adhering to regulatory standards.

    Google Little Box Challenge

    More than 100 international teams from university researchers and students to large companies and garage tinkerers entered the Google Little Box Challenge competition where FEEC placed an impressive third place. Eighteen finalists, which included the FEEC team were chosen in October 2015. These 18 teams entered the Challenge's final stretch by submitted their competition prototypes, which underwent Google's stringent test regimen. The results of this worldwide competition were announced at the ARPA-E 2016, March conference. Of the 18 finalists, only 3 teams passed every one of Google's test requirements. Proudly, FEEC was the only university team to finish in the top three; poised amongst two seasoned competing teams.

    DOE HiPen Project

    FEEC is excited to have received funding from DOE as part of their High Penetration Solar Deployment initiative. A collaborative effort with EPRI and UT Austin, the project will focus on analyzing and improving today's PV power technologies.

    Virginia Tech

    Headline News

    • Jason Lai, FEEC Director and professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been reappointed as the James S. Tucker Professor by Virginia Tech President Tim Sands.The professorship recognizes teaching and research excellence and the renewable appointment is for five years. Lai has held the Tucker Professorship, since 2012.(May 2018)
    • Congratulations to Xiaonan Zhao who has received the best paper award for "Modeling and Control of A Wide-Input Hybrid Resonant Microconverter for Photovoltaic Applications", from the Asian Conference on Energy, Power and Transportation Electrification (ACEPT 2016), Oct. 2016.
    • FEEC Director, Dr. Lai has received the 2016, Gerald Kliman Innovator Award for his contribution in efficiency power conversion using soft-switching energy and multilevel inverters. Dr. Lai was presented this award at the ECCE conference during an awards luncheon on Thursday, September 22nd in Milwaukee, Wi. The IEEE IAS (IPCSD), Industrial Power Conversion Systems Department Kliman Award was established to honor innovators who have made contributions to technical areas of the IPCSD Department. Congratulations Dr. Lai!
    • FEEC is excited to be partnering with Bluefield State College to offer 15 BSC students a hands-on short course in PV installation.
    • Congratulations to FEEC Director Dr. Lai, who has received the James S. Tucker Professorship from the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors!
    • FEEC has received nearly $150K from the Center for Innovative Technology as part of the Fall 2011 Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF) awards. The grant will fund commercialization of the cost-effective PV inverter being developed under the DOE High Penetration PV project.
    • December 14, 2011 - For the first time, the FEEC ultrahigh efficiency (>99%) soft-switching inverter is powering the CitiVan - an electric vehicle built by Azure Dynamics to drive around the city block of Woburn, MA. After 20 minutes of driving with a peak current of 300 A, the inverter temperature stays cool without any cooling. As Azure Dynamics Vice President Dr. Beat Arnet described: "For the first time, we drove the CitiVan around the block with an inverter that was as close to loss-less as it gets."
    • FEEC received a gift of $50k in funding from Ford Motor Company. Ford supports FEEC research in the critical design issue of power electronics for vehicle applications such as electric vehicle propulsion and charging systems. The results of the research will be fundamental to the power electronics community.
    • FEEC received a gift of $25k in funding from Texas Instruments (TI) Analog University Relations Program. TI supports FEEC under-represented students in the research area of bidirectional battery charging related to energy storage for renewable energy systems. The results of the project and the ensured advancement of technology in this area is considered fundamental research and shall be for the benefit of the public. It will in no event be used to limit or restrict TI or TI's customers.
    • The FEEC team won both the Grand Prize and the Outstanding Performance Award in the IEEE 2011 International Future Energy Challenge on July 28, 2011.
    • FEEC hosted a day of lectures and hands-on activities as part of the C-Tech2 engineering camp on June 30,2011.
    • FEEC would like to welcome Yaskawa Electric Corporation on Friday August 6, 2010.
    • FEEC received DOE High Penetration Solar Deployment award of $3.2 million: the project will focus on increasing the growth of grid-tied solar photovoltaic systems. Read More...
    • Congratulations to FEEC members, Thomas Labella and Alex Kim, who won the 2009 National Texas Instruments Analog University Design Contest and Engibous Prize. Read More...
    • FEEC partners with Advanced Research Institute hosted 2008 NSF Workshop on Advanced Power Conditioning for Alternate Energy.
    • FEEC received DOE FreedomCAR Program Award: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University of Blacksburg, Virginia, has been selected for negotiation of an award of up to $1.7 million for a project that will focus on developing an advanced softswitching inverter for reducing switching and power losses. Other team members include Azure Dynamics, Powerex, and National Institute of Standards and Technology. For more information, Please click on the following link
    • 2007 Internation Future Energy Challenge announced
    • VT FEEC receives SiC diodes (PIN & Schottky types) from Northrop Grumman for high-voltage testing


    Contact

    Address: 220 Inventive Ln, Blacksburg, VA 24061
    Tel: (540) 231-5581   Fax: (540) 231-3362

    Copyright 2021, Virginia Tech FEEC