Why should you attend ESBE?

Rick Stockburger Uncategorized Leave a Comment

I’m very fortunate that I get to go to a lot of conferences around the country, but the chief complaint I always hear is being stuck in a hotel and not getting an  opportunity to experience the city. The Energy Storage Building Efficiency Conference could be held in a hotel but we wanted you to have some adventure and show off a city that you might have never thought of coming to before. We believe  that place is important. We’ve had companies relocate to Warren from across the country because the value the city offered them, not just our incubator. Our conference is going to be held on Courthouse Square in Downtown Warren, our breakouts will be at cool local venues and you will get to walk, navigate, and adventure through our cool little city. We’re inviting you to learn and be a part of and share our city for two days and we believe this will make the conversations, and the connections even more powerful. Also, if that wasn’t cool enough, the closing reception will be at the National Packard Museum, so you’ll close out your experience listening to gangster era jazz music surrounded by one of the most innovative cars to ever hit the market. The first Packard rolled off the line in Warren, Ohio in 1899. Innovation isn’t just about the people you surround yourself with, it’s about the inspiration a place can have on the experience. If you’re a startup in the energy sector, you must be here. Did you want to meet first customers like AEP, Dominion, First Energy, Rockwell and Others? Join us. I promise your company will be better for it. Manufacturer’s send your plant managers and Chief Technology Officers. Do you want to learn about cutting edge technology that can lower your bottom line significantly, and make your buildings run cheaper and more efficiently? This conference will give you more than something to think about it, it’ll give you the connections to act on those projects you’ve been dreaming about. Investor’s, do you want to learn about Opportunity Zone investing? We have John Lettieri from the Economic Innovation Group, the guy who partnered with Sean Parker of Facebook fame, here to tell you how to make good deals better and how to invest in companies and projects in places that your money can not only earn a return for you, but make a real impact in communities you care about. Beyond that, meet a plethora of investable startups and learn what they are doing to get your attention. Listen to early stage investors on how they make decisions, and what opportunities are out there. We consistently talk about how important it is to get our companies more access to capital, we need to talk more about how important it is for you to make sound investments into companies and projects that have a real impact. We’re excited to have you.

Batteries vs. Fuel Cells

Daniel Sylak Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Batteries and fuel cells are ever popular subjects in the ongoing conversation about how we power the world we live in. They are steadfast becoming important components of the energy chain to power things throughout our daily lives. Despite their rising popularity, many people are yet unaware of the differences between the two, their different use applications and why they are increasingly important in our lives. Batteries A battery is a cell or series of cells producing an electrical current through chemical reactions within the cells. Batteries are self-contained and will store a finite amount of energy that is depleted when the reaction reaches completion. Some batteries are intended for one-time use, while others may be recharged multiple times using an electrical source. Some common applications for batteries are consumer electronics like cellphones, car batteries and electric vehicles, pacemakers, emergency response radios, backup power supplies for servers and telephone exchanges and as a power source for off grid homes with inverters. Fuel Cells A fuel cell, like a battery, produces electrical current through a chemical reaction, but does so using a system in which a fuel (normally hydrogen, methanol, natural gas, and sometimes diesel fuel) is constantly supplied, and products (water vapor, sometimes CO2) are constantly removed. Therefore, fuel cells are direct converters of the energy derived from the fuels rather than a storage system for the energy like a battery is. Some typical uses for fuel cells are in vehicles as an alternative to combustion engines, backup power generators. Importance Despite the differences between batteries and fuel, they share one thing in common: they are both integral to the future of energy as we move away from fossil fuels. Both are gaining wider implementation in our daily lives, primarily when it comes to powering transportation, and are key to cleaner transportation. More Reading: Fuel Cells | Department of Energy How Do Batteries Work? | Northwestern Battery and Fuel Cell Technology | The Electrochemical Society References: https://opentextbc.ca/chemistry/chapter/17-5-batteries-and-fuel-cells/ https://chem.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/General_Chemistry/Map%3A_Chemistry_-_The_Central_Science_(Brown_et_al.)/20%3A_Electrochemistry/20.7%3A_Batteries_and_Fuel_Cells

Finalists announced for Young Professional Engineer of the Year

Rick Stockburger Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Mahoning Valley Engineer of the Year awards are in their second year and we are so humbled and honored by the amazing nominee’s and the amount of effort that the nominator’s put into the process this year. We are fortunate to have an unbelievable community of Engineers in the Mahoning Valley and we are excited to take some time away from innovating and celebrate them! The Young Professional Engineer of the Year Award was broken down into 4 unique judging criteria which we believe the finest engineers in the world embody. Leadership: Activity in associations, holding offices for groups, showing leadership in work Awards and Honors: published work, research grants, patents, SBIRs, and other work Community Service & Philanthropic Activity: names of organizations and examples of contributions Engineering or Technical Projects: list and discuss any major engineering programs or projects that the nominee has been involved in, including how the project benefitted a company, profession, or community The Finalists for the Young Professional Engineer of the Year are: Adam Bondor – J.M Verostko Nick Boyer – Starr Manufacturing Daniel Dodge – Butech Bliss Stephen Preston – MS Consultants Ashley Totin – AmericaMakes Congratulations to our finalists! We cannot wait to see you on April 3rd! Tickets available until April 1st. Get Tickets Here


Bill Whittenberger Uncategorized Leave a Comment

After spending considerable time trying various settings and operating strategies, I now have the inverter working, after a fashion.  Princeton Power has been only marginally helpful during the process, given that this is an old unit, out of warranty.  On thing they did tell me is that normally a 100kW inverter is connected to a battery bank of capacity around 200kW-hours.  My bank has capacity of only around 15kW-hours, or 7.5% of “normal”.  So I should expect some challenges. Knowing that my batteries were somewhat discharged, I decided to bring them to a full state of charge.  This would make my battery voltage as high as possible, and possibly avoid a low battery trip and allow the inverter to run.  Success!  The inverter locked into run mode!  Makes lots of interesting noises. Neither charging or discharging, the inverter claims a steady draw from the batteries of 4-5 amps.  Princeton says this is normal.  With my small battery bank, I will need to make sure I go to charge mode every hour or so to counteract this drain.  I also need to make sure that I charge before any shutdown, to make sure my inverter will re-start when needed. Now that the inverter is running, I need to interact with it.  So I need to get the LAN interface working.  This required many steps over several days, including locating the port on the inverter, running a cable to my laptop, purchasing a cross-over adapter, setting the IP address on my laptop LAN adapter, downloading and installing Java (needing to use IE, it doesn’t seem to work in Chrome??).  Thank goodness for Tyler, my IT helper.  Finally I can communicate.  It should be easier that this. The Princeton web interface works well, pretty much as described in the manual.  I can quickly change parameters.  More importantly, I can command a power flow to or from the battery bank.  From the panel interface, I was only able to command power to flow from battery to grid.  Not so handy when I have batteries that require frequent charging. When I command a 1kW flow from batteries to grid, I observe about 14 amps DC.  That’s more like 5kW.  When I command a 1kW charge, a see 14 amps the other way.  I also see in charge mode the battery box trip out after a minute or so because of a high voltage input. Clearly I have a calibration issue on the inverter on the DC side.  Amps reported by the inverter appear to contain a -0.4 amp offset compared to the amps reported by the battery box – easy to live with.  But voltage is quite wrong as measured and reported by the inverter.  Voltage as reported by the battery box is validated as correct by my hand meter in any operating mode.  In inverter idle mode, inverter reports a DC voltage about 6 volts lower that actual.  In run mode, regardless of amp flow, the inverter reports a DC voltage 40-50 volts below actual.  Yikes!  Princeton tells me that the box has gone out of calibration (no kidding) but I can’t persuade them to tell me how to fix it. I decide to work around the problem by adjusting the battery settings in the inverter control to much lower values – values that I would expect the inverter to observe in its un-calibrated form at max drain, hold, and max charge conditions.  Using these settings, I am now able to keep the inverter running for hours at a time. So far, I have been unable to have the inverter automatically switch to charge mode when battery voltage drops too low – I need to manually command a charge using the web interface.  When charging or discharging, I command only 1kW (and get much more) so that I do not exceed the amp rating of the system. Finally I have something that seems to work after a fashion, and might be used to conduct experiments, provided that one is respectful of system limits.  At one time I thought that I was going to need a different inverter, but it looks like we can work with this one.  A victory! One thing I notice about the inverter – the manual says that it should continue to power the critical AC load from the batteries if the grid power drops out, as long as the batteries hold up.  I should be able to get short time driving a 5kW load with my batteries.  However, when I …

Experiences with the setup of a micro-grid at TBEIC

Bill Whittenberger Uncategorized Leave a Comment

I have been engaged over the last 2 months with the setup of a small micro-grid at TBEIC, to be used for testing customer components that might be used in such grids. We have one customer who expects to test their intelligent breaker in a month or so using our setup. The three primary components that define our micro-grid are: – Powerhouse 25kW Load Bank, 480/3phase, load selectable in 5kW ranges, intended to represent a critical home or business power load that we do not wish to be disturbed when the utility grid fails. – Battery Bank for storage, includes safety, disconnect, and metering functions. Generously donated to us by a local firm who wishes to remain anonymous. The bank is made from 12 volt lead-acid batteries, 40 amp-hour rating, 32 total, about 1000 lbs of lead. Nominal bank voltage is 384 volts. Nominal storage is around 15 kW-hours. – Grid Tie Inverter, Princeton Power GTIB-480-100. This is an intelligent inverter rated at 100kW, meant to interface the 3 phase grid to DC storage, a PV array, and also a critical AC load. This 100kW box is very much over-rated for use with our 25kW devices. We use it because its what we have for now. Other equipment to be used in the micro-grid are: – Keysight PA2203A Power Analyzer, used for detailed characterization of 3 phase power – NHR 9410-24 Grid Simulator. This is a 24kW device that will manufacture any sort of power needed. Most importantly in this application, it can simulate interesting types of grid failures such as brown-outs, phase drops, line spikes, harmonics, voltage notches, and the like. – Keysight 34972A Data Acquisition System, used to capture data in real time. – NHR 9200 Battery Tester, used to charge/discharge/evaluate the battery bank off-line. All of the 3 phase AC equipment is fitted with what amounts to giant extension cords, which allows the equipment to be arranged in any electrical sequence. In the simplest arrangement, the inverter is plugged into and powered from the wall disconnect, and the load bank is plugged into the critical load connection on the inverter. And the battery bank is connected using a DC connector to the inverter as well. In a more complex connection arrangement, the following will be plugged together in order to power the inverter – wall disconnect, grid simulator, customer breaker, power analyzer, inverter. Commissioning of this micro-grid arrangement has provided a numbers of surprises and challenges that allow a good engineer to make a living: Powerhouse load bank – This was initially plugged right into the 480 wall disconnect to test its function. It also has a 110V cord that powers its logic and instruments that needs to be plugged in. As is happened, a wall plug with a GFCI was conveniently located. When both cords were plugged in (with nothing turned on) the GFCI tripped. The unit functioned as intended when plugged into a conventional 110 outlet. Hoping to avoid electrocution, I had some dialog with Powerhouse, which resulted in connecting the ground wire in the 3 phase cord to the ground stud on the box instead of the plug provided. Now everything plugs in without tripping the GFCI. But when you turn on the load bank, it still trips. Hmm. I decided to keep it plugged into the conventional 110 outlet and moved on, knowing that the case was grounded and that I would be safe. Grid simulator – Initially used this to power the load bank. Set up the control to provide 480 3 phase, turn it on. Turn on the load bank, it would draw power for a half second, then not. Hmm. Turns out that I needed low-side connections for each phase on the back of the simulator. Read the directions next time! After fixing this connection, the simulator has quickly and easily done everything I have asked of it. Power analyzer – next step splice this into the power supply chain to the load bank, and learn how to use it. This is a really nice unit, lots of buttons, touch screen, storage, graphics, and the like. After pushing buttons for an hour, the unit locked up. Very pretty screen, but no response to any of my inputs, including the USB from my computer. Off to Malaysia for repair, after extreme fun getting the connectors loose, and discovering that somebody has re-purposed my box. Grr. I hope to have this back in mid-Feb. Battery bank – This donated unit came with …