Partnerships

The Henry L. Hillman Foundation provided support in 2014 via an Opportunity Grant to establish the DC-AMPS (Direct Current Architecture for Modern Power Systems) Program. Based on the results of Phase 1 Opportunity Grant, the Foundation provided a significant extension in the form of a Phase 2 effort beginning in 2015. The work will continue towards the development and demonstration of advanced DC technologies, systems, and infrastructure to lead the electric power industry evolution from AC to DC power, while positioning the Pittsburgh region to become a global leader in DC power and microgrid applications. The work will also accelerate the emergence of hybrid AC/DC networks, operations, and microgrids –leading to complete DC infrastructure – to enhance modern power system efficiency; improve power quality, reliability, security and resiliency; and align technology integration with renewable and clean energy developments.  A key component to Phase 2 is the establishment of the high voltage AC/DC power lab at the EIC in an effort to increase industry and community partnerships in the development,demonstration, and wide-scale deployment in this rapidly-evolving area.

On November 16, 2015, Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering and Duquesne Light announced their intent to partner to help redefine the future of the energy landscape in the region. This strategic partnership will include projects designed to provide Duquesne Light with critical knowledge to help inform future grid design and potential new product and service offerings, while helping to enable expanded research opportunities for students and faculty in the University’s energy and electric power programs.
The partnership includes the design and installation of an urban microgrid at Duquesne Light’s Woods Run Facility located in Pittsburgh’s North Shore. With support from the Swanson School’s Electric Power Systems Laboratory, the installation will serve as a real-world laboratory to research microgrid resiliency and the integration of distributed and renewable energy resources into the electric power distribution grid, as well as other key enabling technology areas such as power electronics controllers, direct current (DC) infrastructure, energy storage systems, and smart grid technologies.

FEEDER is one of three regional consortia under the US DOE Grid Engineering for Accelerated Renewable Energy Deployment (GEARED) program. Pitt’s role is to participate in course sharing amongst the other universities and to develop new courses, including “Electromechanical Design” in collaboration with UT Dallas, and “Distribution System Simulation Methods” in collaboration with Florida State and San Diego State. When Pitt joined FEEDER, some of our existing industry partners (Duquesne Light, Dominion Virginia Power, MEPPI) joined the FEEDER advisory board, which meets at least annually with FEEDER schools to help ensure that our curricula meets industry needs, for both new graduates and for continuing education of working professionals.

In this project, Pitt and ANSYS will work together to develop an integrated design suite with built-in design aides for various AM manufacturability requirements and new topology optimization capabilities for high potential additive manufacturing applications. ExOne and EOS will be providing all the known manufacturability requirements of their AM systems to the software development teams of Pitt and ANSYS. The other team members are committed to 1) utilize the developing design suite to optimize parts that have great potential for real applications and 2) provide feedback on the design software to the development team.

The project relates to the generation of nanostructured electrochemically active nanomaterials via direct chemical reduction of oxide precursors following chemical or mechanochemical reduction processes. The direct synthesis approach results in the formation of nanoparticles of the electrochemically active materials demonstrating specific capacity as high as 2000 mAh/g at 0.05 mA/g. At very high currents of 2 A/g, the system shows a capacity as high as 800 mAh/g showing considerable promise. Pitt researchers are engaged in synthesis and development of the novel electrochemically active systems. The project involves collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory at Richland, Washington. Other potential industrial partners that have interest in the research and technology are Kurt J. Lesker and Ford Motor Company. Kurt J. Lesker is interested in utilizing the technology for advanced materials for cellular applications.

The shale gas supply chain today is highly fragmented and both its physical components and its economics are not clearly understood. Until recently, improving the overall supply chain has not been an area of focus for the players in the shale gas sector because of the high demand for gas and the high profit margins associated with it. Rather, the focus has been primarily on expanding production, minimizing extraction times and maximizing output.

However, with the recent drop in oil prices there is now a rising interest in reducing costs and improving operational efficiencies. With current political uncertainties regarding large scale pipeline efforts, such as the Keystone XL, external pressures may drive the industry towards more use by more regional industries, again emphasizing the need for a comprehensive regional perspective on the shale plays. This requires an understanding of the entire supply chain and the economics associated with each link in it. The goals of this project are (a) clearly delineate the upstream, midstream and downstream stages in a universally accepted fashion, (b) describe the various material, information and financial flows commonly associated with a supply chain, (c) map the value stream from source to customer, and (d) link the supply chain to the external environment. Without such a mapping of the supply chain, any systematic efforts to improve its efficiency are seriously impaired.

 

The Pitt-Ohio program successfully integrates solar and wind generation, along with battery energy storage and a DC network integration to power their Harmar Township distribution facility. The renewable energy component includes 50 kW of Solar PV, 5 kW of wind power, 70 kWHr of storage, and various power conversion integration, while the facility’s internal distribution system includes a significant portion of Direct Current (DC) power distribution, indicated by the green lines on the one line diagram in Figure X. Figure Y is a view of the solar panels on the roof of the facility. In addition to Pitt-Ohio and the University of Pittsburgh, the other nine partners helping to make the program a success included the following industry organizations: Adam Solar Resources, Aquion Energy, BDA Engineering, Inc., Eaton, Elecyr, Emerson, Power Conversion Technologies Inc. (PCTI), Sargent Electric, Universal Electric, and WindStax. All but Elecyr (New Hampshire) are located within 25 miles of the site, highlighting true community cooperation and the Pittsburgh region’s overall capabilities. The project construction phase began in late August 2015 and is scheduled for completion in early 2016. Pitt provided the engineering design, development, and concept of the project, and also took the lead role informing and managing the project team. Due to the success of the Harmar project, a new facility is being planned near Cleveland, Ohio using similar concepts and approaches. Figure Z provides a 3D rendering of the new facility being planned in Ohio. 

The DEI involves collaboration among the City of Pittsburgh, the Center for Energy, the US Department of Energy, and leading regional institutions including the foundations and key industry partners. This initiative includes a Memo of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Pittsburgh and the Department of Energy, as well as an MOU Implementation Charter which defines the Center for Energy’s leadership role. One of the main activities of the Center for Energy in 2015 has been the development of the detailed implementation plan.
Project Summary - The Center for Energy is deeply engaged with the City of Pittsburgh, working closely with the Mayor’s office on the District Energy Initiative plan and concepts for the City, which includes a vision to make Pittsburgh a model for mature city energy infrastructure renaissance. Concepts include the identification and creation of microgrid districts throughout parts of the city, along with various energy resource plans, with a goal of creating one of the most sustainable energy ecosystems in North America. Integral to this vision and the plans under development is the role of DC infrastructure for electric power delivery. Thus, the Center for Energy’s role is not just in crafting the concepts and value proposition of the district energy plan, but also in contributing significantly to its potential success through technology research, development, deployment and demonstration, setting a leading example nationwide. To date, the Center for Energy has helped spearhead a coalition of partners engaged in the District Energy initiatives which, importantly, includes Duquesne Light, People’s Gas, as well as the U.S. Department of energy. Other organizations, including energy suppliers (such as NRG), technology vendors (such as Eaton), and key end-users (such as Pitt-Ohio Express and UPMC) are being strategically engaged in the process, through Pitt’s leadership role.   

Pitt’s Role - As the City of Pittsburgh’s lead implementing organization, the University of Pittsburgh will provide:

1. Overall program management support to the City’s technical team including:

   a. Facilitation and organization of overall program initiatives

   b. Coordination and planning of meetings, events, and promotional activities

   c. Engagement of industry and community partners and coordination of the City's technical team and participating parties on establishing program goals, objectives, outcomes, and deliverables.

   d. Lead or significant contribution to pilot project initiatives

   e. Lead or significant contribution to funding proposal efforts

2. Public Utility and Energy Industry Coordination to the City including:

   a. Liaise with the region's public utilities and energy-focused corporations to develop innovative research initiatives focused on renewable integration, distribution, storage, and microgrid development

   b. Establish coalitions around select project initiatives involving multiple-organization complexities

3. Lead support to the  City's in development of technology R&D roadmap and related R&D including:

   a. Collaboration with all parties involved (utilities, manufacturers, suppliers, end-users, and community organizations) on identification of key technology R&D initiatives.
   b. Leading City’s partnering with DOE on developing an R&D roadmap for integration of new and innovative technology development, demonstration, and deployment across district energy projects

   c. Leading role in supporting and implementing selected funded R&D efforts

4. Educational and Outreach Program Support to the City including:

   a. In partnership with key organizations, coordinate resources for educational activities and community outreach

   b. Support new curriculum development and training initiatives related to district energy concepts,planning, engineering, and related disciplines

   c. Implement supported educational programs across industry and university platforms, such as in the form of future short courses, workshops, and/or certificate degree programs

5.    Implementation of a dedicated staffing plan to support the University’s role.

This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I project seeks to develop new metal inks and metal patterning techniques to print metal nanomesh structures with high transparency and low sheet resistance. Simulations studies will be utilized to understand how to design nanomeshes with high transmission, low sheet resistance, and low haze. New additive printing processes that pattern sub-micron features from metal inks will be developed. Metal nanomeshes are expected to exhibit high durability under bending and deformation.