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Smart Future Greater Philadelphia: Promoting Innovation, Opportunity and Sustainability Through Smart Grid Technology



Principal Investigator:

Dr. Chikaodinaka Nwankpa, Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Dr. Karen Miu, Professor, Electrical & Computer Engineering  

IExE Cluster:

Energy Systems, Analytics and Control


Drexel University recently participated in a project titled "Smart Future Greater Philadelphia: Promoting Innovation, Opportunity and Sustainability Through Smart Grid Technology." The project was a Sub-Award of Department of Energy Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) to PECO. Drexel University partnered with Viridity Energy in the project. Drexel University campus building specific information was and continues to be gathered for the purposes of experimental studies and system analytics concentrated on investigation of building - grid energy interactions. Ongoing research at the Center of Electric Power Engineering (CEPE) includes:

  1. Optimal Dispatch of Building Electrical Loads - This project focuses on the development of methods for optimal demand-side management of multi-building campuses. Data collected from the Drexel University Building Management System (BMS) forms the basis for characterizing the dynamic thermal and electrical behavior of building electrical loads. The approach taken in this project is to utilize this knowledge of actual building behavior when optimizing campus-wide energy consumption. Using the Drexel University campus as a test bed, the project focuses on applications of nonlinear, real-time demand dispatch and campus-wide scheduling of electrical load for demand reduction and electrical market participation. Figure 1 below shows a simple example of electrical load reduction on a single campus building via remote actuation of the HVAC system.
  2. Modeling of Dynamic Building Electric-Thermal Characteristics - This project focuses on the development of equivalent building models capable of describing a building's (or a building group's) electrical (load) as well as thermal (temperature) characteristics. The investigation is motivated by load side energy management programs (such as Demand Response) wherein a building's electrical load is managed to mitigate the effects of insufficient electric power generation. The main goal of this project is to develop appropriate models that can accurately describe the effects of load side energy management programs and incorporate these models into existing electrical network models so as to efficiently control buildings while considering both building side variations as well as grid side variations.
  3. Renewable Source Control Center - The Renewable Source Control Center (RSCC) is a hardware setup within the Center for Electric Power Engineering. It houses batteries of varying sizes and chemistries as well as a system of Photovoltaic cells that are on the roof of Drexel's Main Building. Storage mediums in the system include multiple chemistries such as Lead Acid and Lithium Ion. The system allows for the testing of the energy storage and the control schemes to be applied to them. Better understanding of the control can contribute to extended lifetime of equipment and lower energy costs for the user. Work on the hardware setup is extended and enhanced within a software environment for further analysis. Software studies have shown possible areas of control to include charging/discharging rates as well as examining effects of reduced capacity in terms of solar or battery energy availability.