University bolsters power electronics facilities

University bolsters power electronics facilities
Monash University Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering member Dr Tadeusz Czaszejko

Power and automation technology company ABB has donated more than $150,000 in drives, motors and PLC equipment to the Electrical Power Engineering (EPE) Laboratory of Monash University, which now offers new learning opportunities for students in the area of electricity generation.

The upgraded laboratory was officially opened last November, with ABB Australia drives manager Michael Hose saying the donation of energy efficient drives, motors and control products will help the university further develop students’ understanding of the electricity grid and the technologies that are enabling the integration of renewables.

Equipment donated included eight DCS550 DC drives, 16 AC500 eco PLCs, eight ABB-Baldor electric motors and eight ACSM1 Servo Drives combined with regenerative units, with full braking power. The regenerative units control the line side power factor to unity, in order to maintain clean power with low harmonic content.

Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering head of department Dr Tadeusz originally approached ABB in 2012 with the idea of upgrading the lab and said the donation has provided the momentum to undertake a much more ambitious upgrade.

“Monash University now has one of the most advanced power electronics labs of any university in Australia,” he said.

The lab offers a wide range of learning possibilities for electrical engineering students, particularly in relation to the generation of electricity and how it behaves. The students are able to run various theoretical calculations, then utilise the equipment in the lab to simulate how various applications actually work in practice.

Students can also simulate adding a generator to the electric grid, as well as the transferral of surplus electricity, generated from renewable energy sources such as PV cells, back into the grid.