How UConn Researchers Are Working to Solve the Nation’s Energy Problems – UConn Today – UConn

by | Jun 30, 2022 | Energy

Three new grants totaling $7.5 million from ARPA-E and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are enabling UConn researchers to conduct ground-breaking work on some of the nation’s most pressing energy problems. 
Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) grants provide funding for the development of transformational technologies that provide new ways of generating, storing, and using energy.  
Shrinking Substations for Green Energy Integration 
Yang Cao, a professor in the School of Engineering, is working on a three-year ARPA-E project to create a new technology that will help stabilize the power grid and integrate renewable energy sources into the existing energy infrastructure. 
Substations are sprawling networks of wires, towers, and transformers. Substations change the high voltage that comes directly from energy generation stations into low voltage that can safely be delivered to homes or businesses. 
The century-old energy infrastructure in the United States is prone to power outages, especially during increasingly common severe weather. 
This infrastructure is also poorly suited to renewable energy sources as they were designed for fossil fuels. 
With something like wind or solar energy, the energy sources are spread out across a huge expanse rather than coming from a neatly packaged oil barrel. Solar panels or wind turbines also tend to be in remote areas far from major cities that have massive electrical needs. This means we need more efficient technologies that can link distributed energy generators to urban areas. 
Cao will work with Virginia Tech on the project, titled Substation in a Cable for Adaptable, Low-cost Electrical Distribution (SCALED), to develop high-voltage cables to replace bulky substations. 
“We need a more versatile and compact conversion and integration solution for distributed renewable energies,” Cao says. “This overall project is targeting that.” 
Making something this compact will be highly advantageous as they can be placed almost anywhere, whereas current substations require a tremendous amount of open space. 
The goal of the project is to greatly reduce the footprint of substation technologies without compromising its effectiveness. 
The goal of the project is to grea …

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