Wind power generators, industrial motor drives, and AC electric grids are all systems that require voltage and frequency conversions. A number of technologies including power transformers, power electronic converters, and variable frequency transformers traditionally handle these conversions, but each has benefits and drawbacks. A power transformer does not have the ability to convert frequency. Power electronic converters require complicated and expensive thermal management that increases with the power capacity of the converter. They also use expensive power filters to eliminate the harmonics generated by the converters. Finally, variable frequency transformers use an electric motor, generator, and rotary parts—a complex system with high maintenance requirements. A single device for electrical energy conversion would simplify the process while overcoming the technical and economic barriers of existing technology.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
The University of Nebraska, Lincoln (UNL) will develop an innovative concept for an electromagnetic induction-based static power converter for AC to AC electrical conversions. Their method will use a new device, the magnetic flux valve, to actively control the magnetic flux of the converter. The voltages induced across the device can be controlled by varying the magnetic fluxes. By synthesizing the induced voltages appropriately, the converter can take an AC input and generate an AC output with controllable amplitude, frequency, and waveform. During this project, the team plans to prove the concept of the magnetic flux valve; prove the concept for variable-frequency and variable voltage AC-AC electrical energy conversion; and conduct a study on the scalability of the magnetic flux valve and electromagnetic power converter concepts. If successful, the technology has the potential to achieve lower cost, higher energy density, and higher efficiency than traditional energy conversion technologies. More efficient conversion technologies for high voltage and high power applications can lead to new innovations in renewable power generation and smart grid applications.