Award for research on smart DC converters

​Smart and efficient direct current converters are predicted to be extremely important in the electrical power grids of the future. Amin Bahmani from the division of Electric Power Engineering at Chalmers has now received an award from ABB for his outstanding research in the field.
​Our most common source of power, the electrical power grid, currently supplies alternating current, in other words current that changes direction many times per second. It is primarily the possibility to easily convert its voltage by using a transformer that has made alternating current a standard.

But direct current is now gaining ground because it has other advantages, all the more so since the transmission losses are much lower. Some data centres already use low voltage direct current to distribute electricity within the data centre, and in some places there are high voltage power lines which transmit direct current over long distances.

“In the near future it’s reasonable to expect an interconnected direct current network incorporating both the distribution and transmission at different voltage levels. But to succeed in providing such a system, you need a high-power component that can convert direct current between different voltage levels,” explains Bahmani, who is a researcher in the division of Electric Power Engineering.

And it is just such components, so called solid-state transformers or smart transformers, that are the subject of Bahmani’s research. Smart transformers are regarded as one of the central technologies required to meet the challenges in the electrical power grid of the future.

In his research Bahmani has developed a design and optimisation method with focus on higher efficiency and power density, and was so successful that at the end of 2016 he received an award of SEK 40,000 from the Gunnar Engström ABB Foundation.

“I feel very honoured to receive this important award. For me it means that I am on the right path, it gives me the energy and motivation to remain highly focused on my research,” Bahmani says.

Bahmani is currently a visiting researcher at the FREEDM Systems Center at North Carolina State University in the USA. The centre has a good reputation and focuses exclusively on designing and implementing solid-state transformers.

“I’m really happy to have got the chance to be part of this team for a while. It’s entirely in line with the department’s vision of building up competence and expanding our international cooperation in this field.”

Bahmani is convinced that solid-state transformers will significantly change the way in which electrical power grids of the future operate. And he plans to continue working in the field. Recently he received multi-annual funding from the Swedish Energy Agency which also gives him the chance to employ his first doctoral student.

The research team also has a vision of using the technology and experience of solid-state transformers in other applications, such as in solar energy and energy distribution in houses.

“We have applied for and received initial funding together with Rise (Research Institutes of Sweden) and hope to increase our expertise in these fields too,” he says.

Text: Ingela Roos

Page manager Published: Wed 23 May 2018.