EnergyVille's researchers investigate power electronics, more specifically new materials for power devices, advanced and novel power devices, efficient and reliable power convertors and DC nanogrids.
In addition, energy conversion is one of the topics of research.
Erik De Schutter
Johan Van Bael
New materials for power devices
Advanced and novel power devices
Efficient and reliable power convertors
Within EnergyVille, power electronics converters using state-of-the-art GaN and SiC technology are developed that support the roll-out of the LVDC grid. The focus is mainly on high step-up and high step-down DC/DC conversion where reliability, efficiency and compactness are key parameters. Application areas can be found in Point-Of-Load (POL) and integrated Module-Level Converters (MLC) for Building Integrated PhotoVoltaics (BIPV). Climate chambers are available to increase the thermal stress, thereby emulating extreme environmental conditions where the converters might operate.
Although electrical power networks in buildings and districts have been for about a century equipped with AC technology at 50 or 60 Hz, the energy transition is putting into question whether that is still the right choice. The transition to decentralized production, energy-efficient technologies and the electrification in heating and transportation all contribute to the question whether the current “lock-in” of AC technology for building technologies is still justified. EnergyVille is investigating low-voltage DC technology and the potential safety concerns. To do this, a representative building-level “DC nanogrid” (as opposed to the wide area microgrids) was set up in the Home Lab of EnergyVille I.
The extensive development of renewable, distributed energy sources will lead to major changes in the energy networks. Trends include a higher level of interaction between different energy vectors. By using more extensive energy conversion systems like heat pumps and Organic Rankine Cycles (ORC), more efficiency can be obtained in the global energy system. In periods of high electricity prices heat-to-power systems like ORC’s could produce electricity starting from heat. During periods with low electricity prices heat pumps could pump up heat at low temperature to higher temperatures to be used by consumers.
Conversion systems will play an important role in the optimal use of renewable energy sources and in the interaction between energy networks. They need to be flexible, efficient and equipped with new components in order to be used as energy hub between networks and to deliver extra services to one or more networks. Over the past years, EnergyVille has focussed on heat pumps, ORC’s and heat exchanger concepts.