Virginia Tech’s director of the Center for Power Electronics Systems takes on grand challenge
With rapidly increasing populations and energy consumption, the world is facing the challenge of building a sustainable energy future. Over the next 30 years, present electrical grids are projected to quadruple.
Virginia Tech’s new director of the Center for Power Electronics Systems (CPES) Dushan Boroyevich is working toward solving this challenge.
"Dushan is synonymous with innovation at Virginia Tech,” said Theresa Mayer, Virginia Tech’s vice president for research and innovation. “As the director of the Center for Power Electronic Systems, I believe he is poised to continue Virginia Tech's global leadership in this field and other disciplines that are dependent upon these systems."
For more than four decades, the center has been at the forefront of numerous core power conversion technologies and research, including the powering of information technology and transportation.
With an expertise in power conversion, Boroyevich centers his research on the modeling and control of high-frequency switching power converters, now used for the analysis, design, and control of hybrid AC/DC power conversion systems. As director of the center, Boroyevich is exploring cross-disciplinary research and education at the intersection of engineering, architecture, and business, among other disciplines.
“This exploration will enable pervasive changes in the way electricity is used,” explained Boroyevich, who is a U.S. National Academy of Engineering member.
According to Boroyevich, by combining CPES expertise with the vast experience of Virginia Tech’s power systems faculty and a global industry consortium of companies and government research sponsors, his team will be seeking solutions and additions to the workforce for the new power grid of the 21st century.
Boroyevich is confident the center will continue to build upon previous work in order to transform living and working spaces into enjoyable, healthy, efficient, and attractive environments without the clutter of electrical cables, air ducts, electromechanical switches, and power outlets.
Similarly, low-cost versions of these technologies could revolutionize rural electrification in the developing world. The key is using local, renewable, and distributed generation without connection to the national grids.
This is what Boroyevich calls a “bottom-up-grid” approach to overcoming the “grand challenge.”
The envisioned Intergrid could utilize electronic energy-routers instead of the old power substations, as well as novel underground DC power networks instead of the overhead AC transmission lines. This Intergrid could ideally accommodate any form of electrical energy generation, storage, transmission, and delivery, providing over 80 percent of human energy consumption, compared to the less than 50 percent in the developed world today.
This “top-down-grid” expansion and rebuild will make the energy infrastructure better integrated into natural and built environments. It will also be much more resilient to natural and human-made disasters. The grid could supply 100 percent renewable energy with ever-increasing efficiency to everyone, while generating high-quality jobs around the globe.
In addition, Boroyevich’s foremost task is to keep the center's family thriving. Over the next five years, at the Blacksburg and the National Capital Region locations, the goal is to increase total external funding to $10 million annually and expand into new cross-disciplinary areas.
“While keeping our program strong, we will work with the Virginia Tech administration to develop physical and organizational infrastructure for the growth of CPES, increasing to 10 professors, 10 staff, over 100 graduate students, and more than 100 companies in our consortium,” said Boroyevich, a University Distinguished Professor.
As co-director of the center, Boroyevich’s past efforts to expand CPES’ burgeoning portfolio have not gone unnoticed. Since the beginning, “Boroyevich has been the integral part of the center’s early development and success,” said Fred Lee, the founder and former director of the internationally acclaimed center. Lee retired in September 2017.
“For CPES to continue playing the leadership role on the world stage, the center has to reposition itself to establish as a global alliance with government agencies, industries, and universities,” Lee said. “My colleague, Professor Dushan Boroyevich, served as the center's co-director for the past 20 years and is considered to be one of only a handful people in the world with both the breadth and depth to undertake this grand challenge.”
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