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Recent Grants with Professor John Shen as Principal Investigator Energize Power Research at Illinois Tech

Grainger Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, John Shen, is the Principal Investigator on two recently awarded federal grants that will continue to energize the power engineering research being conducted at Armour College of Engineering.

The first project, “Wide Bandgap Solid State Circuit Breakers for AC and DC Microgrids,” was awarded over $418,000 over the course of three years by the Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

Shen and his students will conduct research on using wide bandgap power semiconductor devices to build circuit breakers that respond faster to circuit faults in renewable-based power networks. These new circuit breakers will allow the power grid to use the energy generated by renewables more reliably and could also speed up the implementation of DC power lines that are more efficient than current AC lines.

The second funded project with Shen as PI, “Scalable Multilevel Multicell Power Architectures Leveraging Cost Effective GaN Power IC Technology,” was funded over $350,000 over three years by the National Science Foundation Division of Electrical, Communications, and Cyber Systems. Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ian Brown, serves as Co-PI on the project.

Shen and Brown will work to develop new cost-effective and reliable power conversion architectures that utilize gallium nitride, a wide bandgap semiconductor material that converts electricity more efficiently than traditional materials.

These advanced wide bandgap power electronics will play a critical role in all phases of the electricity life cycle including generation, distribution and consumption, and have the potential to improve electricity efficiency by 10-25%.

The “Wide Bandgap Solid State Circuit Breakers for AC and DC Microgrids,” project was featured in a Midwest Energy News article. Read it here.