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Power and Energy Institute of Kentucky


Schneider Electric's Remi Bolduc Delivers PEIK Online Seminar on Harmonics Mitigation

April 21, 2020

On April 20, 2020, Remi Bolduc, Competency Centre Manager at Schneider Electric, presented on topics of high frequency components of voltage and current low voltage distribution networks. The seminar reviewed the nature of harmonics, how they are generated, and how to quantify them. Other subjects included the main harmonic standard in North America (IEEE 519-2014), directly relevant utilities grid code requirements, and available harmonic mitigation solutions. The presentation was concluded with a discussion on active harmonic filtering followed by a Q&A session.

SPARK Lab Expands Research on Electric Machines and Drives with QM Power Company

April 7, 2020

The SPARK Laboratory, which is affiliated with the Power and Energy Institute of Kentucky (PEIK) and operates within the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Engineering, has recently expanded its collaboration with QM Power, Inc through the award of a multi-year directly sponsored project. QM Power, a start-up company based in Kansas City, MO, had its initial research and development supported, among others, by the Department of Energy (DOE), NASA, and the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and more recently successfully raised substantial private investment capital. SPARK and QM Power already collaborate on a DOE sponsored project for the future generation of machines and drives for electric vehicles.

Dr. Dan M. Ionel, ECE Professor and L. Stanley Pigman Chair in Power, Director of the SPARK Lab and of the PEIK Institute, will serve at UK as the principal investigator (PI) for the project leading a team of researchers. At QM Power, Mr. Joe Flynn, principal inventor and CTO, and Dr. Hari Harikumar, CEO, will serve as the technical and business project leads, respectively. The new project will analyze and optimize some of QM Power's innovative and patented technologies and designs by employing the SPARK Group premier expertise in electric machines and drives, low frequency electromagnetics, and applied evolutionary computational intelligence.

University of Kentucky and PEIK Measures Related to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

April 1, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, University of Kentucky in-person events have been cancelled or postponed. This includes our planned spring PEIK Distinguished Speaker seminars, as well as student and faculty field visits to power and energy utility and industrial sites. Instruction has now moved online with more details being available on UK’s dedicated website.


Simone Silvestri, Computer Science and PEIK Faculty, Receives Prestigious  NSF CAREER Award

March 24, 2020

Dr. Simone Silvestri joined the Computer Science Department within the College of Engineering at University of Kentucky as an Assistant Professor in 2017 and shortly afterwards he also become a PEIK faculty member. Dr. Silvestri recently received the prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award. The award recognizes and supports early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their academic organizations.

The project for this NSF CAREER award is titled "Energy Management for Smart Residential Environments through Human-in-the-loop Algorithm Design". The residential sector is responsible for more than 20% of the total energy consumption of the United States, and this amount has been constantly increasing for several decades. Smart residential environments (SREs) are a new paradigm that envisions homes equipped with smart appliances based on the paradigm of the Internet of Things. SREs offer tremendous potential to reduce the energy consumption of the residential sector; however, previous work in this context has largely overlooked the complexity of human behaviors and perceptions when interacting with such systems. 

The award will support Dr. Silvestri’s long term research goal of laying the foundations for a new field of study at the intersection of computer science and social sciences, where social-behavioral theories and models are integrated into new algorithmic, machine learning and optimization solutions for cyber-physical systems to specifically consider user behaviors, perceptions and psychological processes in the design and operation of these systems. The research will enable further development of collaboration with faculty from different academic organizations and with PEIK’s industrial and utility partners.

PEIK and ECE Students Establish New IEEE PES and IAS Joint Chapter at UK

March 5, 2020

A new IEEE Student Branch Chapter of the Power and Energy Society (PES) and of the Industry Application Society (IAS) has been recently established at UK following a formal process initiated last fall by a group of enthusiastic undergraduate and graduate ECE and PEIK students. The chapter was approved by the IEEE international organization in late December and started its activities at UK in the current spring semester.

The newly elected executive committee members of the student chapter, who were photographed after the 2020 E-Day at UK, are: Evan S. Jones, Damien Lawhorn, Rosemary Alden, Oluwaseun Akeyo and Huangjie Gong (left to right). Dr. Dan M. Ionel, IEEE Fellow, ECE Professor and L. Stanley Pigman Chair in Power, SPARK and PEIK Director, serves as the faculty advisor. Together with other members of the chapter, the students directly supported the stands and demonstrations of PEIK and LG&E-KU, which attracted record attendance. In addition to active participation in outreach initiatives, the students also plan other events for professional development and networking with the wider engineering community.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) is the world's largest association of technical professionals with more than 400,000 members worldwide. At UK, the new PES and IAS Chapter further develops the tradition of the IEEE Student Branch that has been very active and successful for many years and reflects the growing number of students and the strong interest in electric power engineering.

PEIK and LG&E-KU Expanded Displays and New Demonstrations at UK's E-Day 2020

February 27, 2020

On Saturday February 22nd, PEIK’s and LG&E-KU’s joint exhibit stands at the Engineering Day, E-Day, which were organized in the atrium of the RGAN Hall, attracted a record number of visitors. Altogether, this annual edition of the UK College of Engineering event had approximately 3,000 attendees.

New this year, were the PEIK and LG&E-KU collaboration with undergraduate and graduate student members of the IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES) and Industry Applications Society (IAS) joint chapter newly established at UK, and an electric city model built by the students. Faculty and students also demonstrated older displays, which were back by popular demand, including the full-size electric bike with flashing lights and computer tablet interface, the "world's largest wind turbine" – an enlarged and modified Lego replica of Vestas V-164, a levitating and wireless supplied electric bulb, a Faraday flashlight, and a video with aerial views of real-life utility-size power systems and renewable energy installations, including Kentucky's largest electric battery and solar PV LG&E-KU power plant. 

Awards for PEIK and CS Research Students in Computer Science on Energy Topics

February 17, 2020

Two CS students working with PEIK Faculty Simone Silvestri on energy related projects have recently received awards and recognition for their research. 

Eura has worked with Dr. Silvestri  since 2017 on energy management systems based on machine learning and artificial intelligence. She has also published a paper that appeared in the proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on COMmunication Systems & NETworkS (COMSNETS), 2020, and another paper that is currently under review. Thanks to this work, Eura won a prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship and received the Honorable Mention for the Computing Research Association's (CRA) Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award for 2020. Eura plans to earn a Ph.D. in computer science and pursue a position as a professor of computer science. 

Seun Adekunle, a high school student from the Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, has worked with Dr. Silvestri on a project to interface a smart outlet with a web server and a smart phone application. Seun  won the second place for his poster at the  KY State Science Fair, Energy: Physical category. 

PEIK to Set Up New Laboratories in Modernized Grehan Hall

January 29, 2020

The Power and Energy Institute of Kentucky, PEIK, which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary since being established with support from a large DOE grant, will be setting up new laboratories on UK’s campus in the newly modernized Grehan Hall. Recently, this building has been undergoing major renovations to serve as an expansion for the fast growing UK College of Engineering. The additional 45,000 square feet of building space includes allocation for new PEIK laboratories covering research topics of alternative and renewable energy technologies, battery energy storage, electric machines and power electronic drives, electric power systems, smart grids and buildings. PEIK's developments benefit of large support from the university, industry, utilities, and private donors.

New DOE Sponsored Project for SPARK and PEIK at UK to Research a New Generation of Motors and Drives for Electric and Hybrid Vehicles

December 9, 2019

The new project, which has been competitively awarded under the US Department of Energy, Advanced Vehicle Technologies Research Program DE-0002014, seeks to develop revolutionary concepts that will significantly increase the power density and decrease the cost of motors and drives for high efficiency electric and hybrid vehicles. The research will consider novel magnetic flux doubling machine configurations with permanent magnets in the stator and special reluctance rotors and multi-phase power electronics converters with Silicon Carbide (SiC) Wide Band Gap (WBG) devices. 

The multi-year project benefits of a $750,000 budget with cost share and additional support to be provided by partner industrial company, QM Power, Inc. Academic collaborators will include colleagues from the EPIC Center at University of North Carolina at Charlotte. At UK, Dr. Dan M. Ionel, SPARK and PEIK Director, ECE Professor and L. Stanley Pigman Chair in Power, will serve as the principal investigator (PI) and lead a team including postdoctoral scholar Dr. Peng Han and research assistant students. 

Ionel to Serve as the Steering Committee Chair for the IEEE IEMDC Series of Conferences

December 9, 2019

Dr. Dan M. Ionel, SPARK and PEIK Director, ECE Professor and L. Stanley Pigman Chair in Power, has been elected as the Steering Committee Chair for the IEEE International Conference on Electric Machines and Drives (IEMDC) series. The most recent edition of IEMDC has been held this year in San Diego, CA, and the next event is scheduled for Hartford, CT. Established in 1997 in Milwaukee, WI, as a bi-annual series, IEMDC is IEEE’s oldest and largest conference devoted entirely to electric machines and power electronic drives.

An IEEE Fellow, senior Past Chair of the IEEE PES Electric Motor Subcommittee, and inaugural Chair of the IEEE IAS Renewable Energy Systems Conversion Committee, Dr. Ionel, also served as the General Chair for the IEEE IEMDC 2017 Anniversary edition held in Miami, FL. Dr. Ionel joined UK, the ECE Department and the PEIK Institute, in the fall of 2015, after more than 25 years in industry. At UK, the electric machines and power electronic drives research of his SPARK group is sponsored by NSF, DOE, NASA, and directly by industry.

Sekulic Inducted into 2019 Class of Fellows of the American Welding Society

December 3, 2019

Dr. Dusan Sekulic, Secat J. G. Morris Aluminum Professor of Mechanical Engineering and PEIK faculty, was recently inducted into the 2019 Class of Fellows of the American Welding Society. His election as an AWS Fellow came in recognition for a career of significant achievements in the technical and research arenas that has enhanced the image and impact of the welding industry.

Earlier this year, Dr. Sekulic’s paper "Microstructure refining of a Mo-Ni Brazing Filler by Nanoparticle Doping” received the  "Robert L. Peaslee Award" by the AWS, which recognizes the manuscript considered the best contribution to the science or technology of brazing published in the AWS Welding Journal during previous calendar year. Co-authors of the paper include H. Fu, D. Busbaher, A. Rabinkin, E. Leone, and T. Preuss. 

The America Welding Society is a nonprofit organization with a global mission to advance the science, technology and application of welding and allied joining and cutting processes, including brazing, soldering and thermal spraying. AWS strives to move the industry forward in both thought and action, as well as inspire new generations to see the exciting career opportunities available today.

SPARK and PEIK Keynote and Best Paper Award at the International Conference on Renewable Energy Research and Applications, ICRERA 2019

December 2, 2019

A keynote for the ICRERA 2019 Conference, which was held on Nov 3-6 in Brasov, RO, was delivered by Dr. Dan M. Ionel, SPARK and PEIK Director, ECE Professor and L. Stanley Pigman Chair in Power. Recent editions of ICRERA were held in Birmingham, UK, in 2016, were Dr. Ionel also served as a keynote speaker, in San Diego, CA, in 2017, and in Paris, FR, last year. Next year’s ICRERA will be held in Glasgow, UK https://www.icrera.org/. Dr. Ionel’s keynote for this edition was entitled “Recent Technology Developments for Utility-Scale and Distributed Battery Energy Storage Systems”.

One of SPARK group’s papers from UK and PEIK: “Overview of Flywheel Systems for Renewable Energy Storage with a Design Study for High-speed Axial-flux Permanent-magnet Machines" with contributions by EE PhD students Murat Kesgin and Narges Taran and postdoctoral scholar Dr. Peng Han, won a best paper/poster award. Two other SPARK papers with contributions by EE PhD students Evan Jones and Huangjie Gong and EE USP PhD student Rosemary Alden, covered topics of net zero energy microgrids and communities, and smart plugs and circuit breakers for buildings, respectively. The PDFs for the keynote and for the papers are available on the SPARK website http://sparklab.engr.uky.edu/.  

Distinguished Speaker PEIK Seminar by Kentucky PSC Commissioner Talina Mathews

November 25, 2019

On Monday, November 25th, Commissioner Talina Mathews of the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) gave a presentation as part of the PEIK Distinguished Speaker seminar series. Commissioner Mathews firstly discussed the background and history of the PSC. She also described the process of utility rate making and outlined PSC updates taking effect from the 2019 legislative session. The presentation concluded with an overview of electricity generation and pricing trends for Kentucky and more broadly, the U.S.  

Commissioner Mathews was appointed to the Kentucky PSC in 2017. In addition to nearly two decades of government service, she has worked in the private sector with an engineering consulting firm and served as the director of member services and advocacy at the Organization of MISO States and has held several adjunct teaching positions in economics and public policy. Commissioner Mathews earned a Doctor of Philosophy and a Master of Arts in economics from the University of Kentucky. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in economics and mathematics from Berea College.

New Research Project on Virtual Power Plants for Electric Distribution Systems Sponsored by TVA

November 4, 2019

Tennessee Valley Authority, TVA, has awarded a new research project to UK PEIK Institute and SPARK Laboratory researchers to study over the next year virtual power plants for the distributed energy resources aggregation and demand response optimal controls. The project will evaluate the potential beneficial impact of coordinated operation of appliances, including HVAC systems and water heaters, solar PV, battery systems, and electric vehicles on the future electric power distribution systems for communities. Drew Frye, Program Manager of Grid Edge & EV Strategy, Enterprise Research & Technology Innovation, serves as the TVA project lead and Dan M. Ionel, ECE Professor and L. Stanley Pigman Chair in Power and PEIK Director as the principal investigator (PI) at UK. The project team at UK includes Huangjie Gong and Evan Jones, PhD students, and Rosemary Alden, USP PhD student. The research will utilize the capabilities developed at UK for the large-scale co-simulation of buildings and electric power distribution systems, which have been described in recent papers presented at large conferences such as IEEE ECCE, PES GM and ICRERA.

Electrical Engineering and PEIK Students Continue Success with IEEE PES National Scholarships at UK

November 4, 2019

Rosemary Alden and Donovin Lewis, UK electrical engineering and PEIK undergraduate students, were recently awarded the IEEE Power and Energy Society (PES) Plus national scholarship. The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) is headquartered in New York City and is the world's largest association of technical professionals with more than 400,000 members. This year, only 135 students nationwide and 21 from the entire Southeastern IEEE Region were selected to receive such an award.

Rosemary and Donovin are enrolled in the University Scholars for Ph.D. program at UK and conduct research in the SPARK Lab, which is directed by Dr. Dan M. Ionel, IEEE Fellow, ECE Professor, L. Stanley Pigman in Power and PEIK Director. Rosemary currently leads the initiative to establish a new IEEE Power and Energy Society Chapter at UK. Donovin serves as an electrical engineering team lead for the UK Solar Car, which currently holds the speed record for solar electric vehicles at the Circuit of the Americas racetrack in Austin, Texas. Included in the photo, on the right side, is Stewart Evan Jones, who received in 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 the IEEE PES national scholarship as an undergraduate student. Evan, who was a University Scholar at UK, graduated with two BS degrees in Electrical and in Computer Engineering, respectively, and with the PEIK certificate in the summer of 2019, and now continues at UK with Ph.D. studies and research in electric power engineering in the SPARK Lab.

PEIK and ECE Faculty, Dr. JiangBiao He, Received the 2019 IEEE IAS Andrew W. Smith Outstanding Young Member Achievement Award

October 14, 2019

Dr. JiangBiao He, PEIK faculty member and ECE Department Assistant Professor at University of Kentucky, received the prestigious 2019 IEEE Industry Application Society (IAS) Andrew W. Smith Outstanding Young Member Achievement Award at the IAS Annual Meeting, which was recently held and co-located with this year edition of the IEEE Energy Conversion Congress and Expo (ECCE), in Baltimore, MD. This award recognizes outstanding contributions to the profession through involvement in IEEE IAS activities by a society member who is less than 35 years of age. Only one awardee is selected every year from the very large international IEEE IAS community that has approximately 14,000 members.

Dr. He’s research, teaching and professional outreach covers topics of power electronics, electric motor drives, renewable energy and electrification of transportation. He joined University of Kentucky in January 2019 after working in industry for Eaton Corporate Research & Technology and for Rockwell Automation in Milwaukee, WI and most recently for GE Global Research in Niskayuna, NY.

PEIK and ECE Faculty to Collaborate on Electric Power Engineering Topics on GAANN Grant

October 4, 2019

PEIK researchers and ECE faculty, Dr. Dan M. Ionel, PEIK Director and L. Stanley Pigman Chair in Power, and Dr. Aaron Cramer, Kentucky Utilities Associate Professor, will serve as Program Co-Director and Director of Studies, respectively, on a new Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to the ECE Department at University of Kentucky. Dr. Mike Johnson, Professor and ECE Department Chair, will lead as the Program Director and Dr. Janett Lump, ECE Professor, will coordinate the teaching experience for the new GAAN Program.

The three-year $600,000 GAANN grant will provide funds to support graduate students pursuing doctoral degrees in research areas related to electrical and computer engineering at UK. The general aims of this GAANN fellowship program are to educate and train doctoral students in electrical and computer engineering, with a focus on increasing the number of traditionally underrepresented students, including women and first-generation students, seeking impactful careers in research and teaching. A minimum of one GAANN Ph.D. fellowship will be allocated to electric power and will benefit of direct support from the SPARK Program, TVA Professorship, and PEIK.

PEIK Represented at the Kentucky Governor's Conference on Energy and the Environment

September 22, 2019

On September 20, 2019 the Power and Energy Institute of Kentucky (PEIK) was represented at the Kentucky Governor’s Conference on Energy and the Environment at the Lexington Convention Center by Dr. Dan Ionel , and Jason Souders, PEIK/KIAC/FEEDER Coordinator. PEIK had an exhibition booth providing information on the program’s education, outreach and research activities and facilitating engaging discussions with attendees, current and prospective supporters. The materials on display reported on last year's main achievements, including: new faculty, graduate students, and awards, record number of PEIK undergraduate certificates, latest research projects sponsored by DOE and NSF and directly by industry and utilities.

As per the event organizers, the Governor's Conference brings together some of the nation's and state's top minds in the energy and environment arenas. The conference sessions reflect current issues affecting energy development and environmental stewardship in Kentucky.

NSF Grant for Research on Human Behavior, Energy Efficiency, Storage and Management in Buildings

September 19, 2019

PEIK researchers, Dr. Simone Silvestri, CS Assistant Professor, and Dr. Dan M. Ionel, ECE Professor, L. Stanley Pigman Chair in Power and PEIK Director, will serve as PI and co-PI, respectively, on a new collaborative NSF grant: “Crosslayer Optimization of Energy and Cost through Unified Modeling of User Behavior and Storage in Multiple Buildings”. The project will study newly proposed transformative concepts of "human-in-the-loop", social-behavioral models, machine learning, and large-scale modeling of buildings and electric power distribution systems, leading to the development of highly efficient and reliable smart homes and grids.

The new three-year project has a budget of approximately $500,000, includes collaboration with colleagues from Marquette University, and is also aimed at strengthening PEIK's partnership with regional utilities. The research builds upon preliminary results from Dr. Silvestri's research team, and specifically by postdoc researcher Dr. Atieh Khamesi, by undergraduate student Eura Shin, who recently received the 2019 prestigious 2019 Goldwater scholarship, and by high school student Seun Adekunle. The research will employ and further develop the simulation capabilities established in Dr. Ionel's SPARK group, which include contributions by Dr. Vandana Rallabandi, former postdoc researcher at UK and now Lead Research Engineer with General Electric R&D, and Huangjie Gong, electrical engineering Ph.D. student at UK.

PEIK Issues Record Number of Undergraduate Certificates, E.On Scholarships

July 17, 2019

For the 2018-2019 academic year, PEIK issued an all-time record of 57 certificates in power and energy. The PEIK certificates, which are built upon a series of foundational courses supplemented by a broad array of more advanced elective courses related to power and energy, prepare the students for a successful career in industry and the power utilities. The list of majors for the students who were issued PEIK certificates this year includes: Chemical and Materials Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical and Mining Engineering.

Recently, the UK College of Engineering has awarded 16 E.On Scholarships for PEIK scholarships to eligible students who demonstrated strong interest in power and energy studies. These annual scholarships, which continue to be supported by the endowment established years ago at UK by E. On / Kentucky Utilities, provide recipients with $2,500 annually and may also grant an additional $2,000 for use on a power and energy related study abroad trip during the school year or the following summer. 

For more information about scholarship eligibility visit PEIK scholarship webpage or contact Ms. Mary-Michael Deskins, College of Engineering Scholarship Director (marymichael.deskins@uky.edu). For more information about PEIK certification visit the PEIK Undergraduate Certificate webpage, the PEIK Graduate Certificate webpage, or contact Dr. Joseph Sottile (joseph.sottile@uky.edu), PEIK Director of Undergraduate Studies , or Dr. Yuan Liao (yuan.liao@uky.edu), Director of the Graduate Certificate. For more information on PEIK and on how to get involved, contact Dr. Dan M. Ionel, PEIK Director (dan.ionel@uky.edu). 

UK Solar Car Team Sets Speed Record and Wins Third Place in Formula Solar Grand Prix 2019

July 9, 2019

On July 4-6, 2019, the UK Solar Car Team competed in the Formula Solar Grand Prix, taking 3rd place. UK’s latest car, Gato Del Sol VI, also completed the fastest lap, beating the all-time track speed record by 42 seconds. The Formula Sun Grand Prix (FSGP) is an annual track competition that is held on grand prix or road style closed courses. This year’s race took place on the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX. The competition is open to teams from around the world and truly tests the limits of the vehicles in handling curves, braking, and acceleration. The winner of FSGP is determined by the total number of laps completed over the three days of racing. At this edition, UK’s car completed 153 track laps with a total of 524 miles. The PEIK supported UK Solar Car Team recently celebrated its 20th anniversary continuing its longstanding tradition of providing hands-on opportunities for engineering and allowing students to develop and demonstrate their creativity and technical skills.

New Online Certificate in Power Systems

June 17, 2019

The University of Kentucky College of Engineering is now offering a graduate certificate in power systems that will be available entirely online and is designed to provide students with the core knowledge and latest advancements in analysis, modeling, operation, control, optimization and integration of renewable energies. In addition to being exposed to the various theories, students will master the tools and techniques for planning, problem solving and operating power systems. The new program is directed by Dr. Yuan Liao, Electrical & Computer Engineering Professor and PEIK’s Graduate Studies Director. For more information visit on how to apply visit the PEIK website.

DOE FEEDER Summer Institute 2019 at University of Arkansas

June 10, 2019

This year’s edition of the DOE FEEDER Summer Institute took place at University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, AR, and the program theme was Power Electronics. The five-day event provided students from seven FEEDER participating universities, including UK, the opportunity to learn about approaches to mitigate the effects of electromagnetic interference in inverters for DER applications, including solar PV and electric vehicles. Also covered were new technologies for load management, power factor control, voltage variation reduction, and fault detection for the electric power grid. The summer program was led on campus by Dr. Roy McCann, Professor of Electrical Engineering at University of Arkansas. Drs. Larry Holloway and Yuan Liao lead the FEEDER program at UK.

Tours of the research facilities in Fayetteville, AR, included an NSF supported medium and high voltage testing facility for Grid-connected Advanced Power Electronics Systems (GRAPES). The testing of a PV inverter demonstration was followed by a presentation from the local power utility, Ozark, and a visit of their solar farm. The student program concluded with a soldering project to build a phone charger powered by a battery that is recharged by a small solar panel.

PEIK participation included Rosemary Alden, University Scholars undergraduate student (in the photo, the first on the left in the front row), Jesus Montero, a recent BS graduate and PEIK Certificate awardee (front row center), and Huangjie Gong, Ph.D. student (last on the right). The Foundations for Engineering Education for Distributed Energy Resources (FEEDER) summer program was funded by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, US Department of Energy, under the Grid Engineering for Accelerated Renewable Energy Deployment program (GEARED) and also supported by PEIK. 


PEIK Power and Energy Experiences Course Sees Another Successful Year

June 7, 2019

The 2019 edition of the PEIK Power and Energy Experiences course for UK students was organized with the generous support of partner power utility, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The class took place in the first part of the summer term and included a one week field trip, which provided the students with an immersive experience through daily visits of regional facilities for generating, transmitting, distributing and managing electricity. Tours included a coal fired power plant, hydroelectric generation, natural gas power generation, solar, a biogas gas generation facility, natural gas combined cycle generating facilities, and an electric distribution substation. Tour attractions this year featured various TVA power generation facilities including Paradise Combined Cycle Plant, Shawnee Fossil Plant, and the Kentucky Dam.

The course, which is an elective for the PEIK undergraduate certificate and a requirement for the PEIK graduate certificate, also included an online module covering the theoretical background. Course instructor, Dr. Jeff Seay of the Chemical Engineering Department, led a large class of undergraduate and graduate students from diverse engineering disciplines. Earlier this year, PEIK completed with record student attendance and with the generous support of partner power utility LG&E-KU the Efficient and Renewable Electric Power Systems Operations course, which included campus and on site lectures, and field visits to production and research facilities.

PEIK Welcomes A.O. Smith Corporation as New Platinum-level Partner

May 9, 2019

The Power and Energy Institute of Kentucky is very happy to announce that A. O. Smith Corporation has joined the group of PEIK partners at the platinum level. The two organizations look forward to collaboration, especially on topics of advanced energy and power systems, smart grid and building technologies. Dr. Robert Heideman, A.O. Smith Senior Vice President - Chief Technology Officer, will formally serve on the PEIK Industrial Advisory Board and Mr. Ronald Bartos and Dr. Stephen Memory, A. O. Smith Directors of Research, will closely collaborate with PEIK faculty and researchers. A. O. Smith Corporation is a global leader applying innovative technologies and energy efficient solutions to products manufactured and marketed worldwide. The company is one of the world's leading manufacturers of residential and commercial water heating equipment and boilers, as well as a manufacturer of treatment products for residential and light commercial applications. The Power and Energy Institute (PEIK) was created in 2010 with initial support from the Department of Energy (DOE) and continues its mission of teaching, research and outreach at University of Kentucky in direct partnership with industry and utilities.  

PEIK Researchers Collaborate on DOE-1740 Project on Advanced Power Electronics Designs for Solar Applications  

April 29, 2019

The new research project with collaboration from the Power and Energy Institute of Kentucky (PEIK) researchers is part of the US Department of Energy DOE-1740 program that will help the industry develop new technology to improve the devices that serve as the critical link between solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays and the electric grid. The project entitled "Solar Power Electronics Modular Integrated Node Platform" is led by Flex Power Control, a California based company, and also includes collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s (ORNL). DOE will provide funding to design, develop, fabricate and test a novel power electronics platform capable of integration and synchronization with associated technologies, including stationary energy storage, electric vehicle (EV) charging, and site load management. Advanced power electronics and cloud-based analytics would be incorporated into the platform in order to optimize operations and extend the operating life of the system. 

At UK, Dr. Dan M. Ionel, ECE Professor and L. Stanley Pigman Chair in Power and PEIK Director, and Dr. Yuan Liao, ECE Professor and PEIK Director of PEIK Graduate Certificate, serve project PI and co-PI, respectively. The UK research will build upon PEIK recent developments covered in publications such as, "Net Zero Energy Houses with Dispatchable Solar PV Power Supported by Electric Water Heater and Battery Energy Storage", Proceedings, IEEE ECCE 2018, Portland, OR, (Sep 2018), which include contributions by Dr. Don Colliver, BAE Professor at UK and KIAC Director, Dr. Vandana Rallabandi, former postdoc researcher at UK and now Lead Research Engineer with General Electric R&D, and Huangjie Gong, electrical engineering Ph.D. student at UK.

TVA's Amy Henry Talks Integrated Resource Planning at PEIK Distinguished Speaker Series 

April 25, 2019

On April 24, 2019 Amy Henry discussed the current draft of the Tennessee Valley Authority's Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which has been released for public review. TVA is currently developing its 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) through a process that involves wide participation and engagement inclusive of stakeholders, experts, and the public. The IRP provides long-term direction on how TVA can best meet future demand for electric power and shapes how TVA provides low-cost, reliable electricity; supports environmental stewardship; and fosters economic development in the Tennessee Valley for the next 20 years. TVA is updating its 2015 IRP due to continuing changes in the utility industry. Such changes include abundant, lower-cost natural gas, decreased cost of renewable generation, and increased focus on energy conservation efforts. Amy Henrgy manages TVA’s Enterprise Relations & Strategic Partnerships team, which is responsible for strategic engagement of stakeholders around various issues including TVA’s energy resources, energy efficiency, distributed generation, natural resource stewardship, and other key issues.

PEIK EE PhD Candidate Ms. Narges Taran, Receives Dean's Outstanding Doctoral Student Award 

April 17, 2019

Ms. Narges Taran, shown in the photo together with Dean Rudy Buchheit, received the 2019 UK College of Engineering Outstanding Doctoral Student Award. Narges is a PhD candidate in Electrical Engineering, who started her studies at UK in January 2016 as the first PhD student in the newly established SPARK Lab led by Dr. Dan Ionel ECE Professor and L. Stanley Pigman Chair in Power.

Narges’ research in electric power engineering focuses on electric machines and power electronic drives and includes contributions to special motor topologies, such as axial flux coreless and torque magnifying, the use of new carbon nanotube conductors and wide band gap devices, electromagnetic field finite-element analysis and large-scale optimization methods. She has already established an outstanding publication record with more than 25-peer reviewed publications, including 6 journal articles and many major international conference proceedings papers, including one that received a Best Paper Award at IEEE ECCE 2016, the largest joint technical conference of the Power Electronics and Industry Applications Societies. Narges has also co-authored two chapters of the latest edition of the well-known Standard Handbook for Electrical Engineers published by McGraw Hill, and has served as a reviewer for more than half a dozen well known journals and conferences. At last year’s inaugural UK ECE Graduate Research Symposium, Narges received the award for Outstanding Graduate Poster. Her research work has been sponsored by both NSF and by global leading industrial companies, including Regal Beloit Corp. and ANSYS, Inc. 

New Research Project on Renewables Integration Sponsored by LG&E-KU

April 10, 2019

LG&E-KU has recently awarded a project to UK PEIK Institute and SPARK Laboratory researchers to study the integration of variable renewable resources into the legacy electric power system with emphasis on large solar photovoltaics (PV) farms and applicability to Kentucky specifics. Mr. Aron Patrick, Manager of Technology Research and Analytics for LG&E-KU, serves as the industrial project lead, and Dr. Dan M. Ionel, ECE Professor and L. Stanley Pigman Chair in Power and PEIK Director is the project PI at UK. The research builds upon recent academic collaborative work, which is featured in publications, such as "Incorporating Battery Energy Storage Systems Into Multi-MW Grid Connected PV Systems," IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications, vol. 55, no. 1, pp. 638-647, Jan.-Feb. 2019, and includes contributions by Dr. Nick Jewell, Senior Research Engineer with LG&E-KU and Adjunct Professor at UK, Dr. Vandana Rallabandi, former postdoc researcher at UK and now Lead Research Engineer with General Electric R&D, and Oluwaseun Akeyo, electrical engineering Ph.D. student at UK.

UK Energy Club Visits LG&E-KU

April 2, 2019

On March 29, student members of the University of Kentucky Energy Club toured the LG&E-KU E.W. Brown Power Plant. Situated on the banks of Lake Herrington, near Harrodsburg, KY, this site showcases four technologies for electricity generation — a hydroelectric plant, an operational coal-fired unit, seven combustion turbines, and a universal solar facility. Mr. Aron Patrick, LG&E-KU Manager for Research and Analytics served as the main host and organizer. Guided by subject matter engineering experts, the UK Energy Club group toured the various energy production facilities, including the state’s largest solar PV array and battery storage system. The trip was sponsored by LG&E-KU and PEIK.

European Expert, Dr. Ion G. Boldea, Delivers PEIK Distinguished Speaker Seminar on Renewable Energy Systems

March 28, 2019

On March 27th,  Dr. Ion Boldea presented on Renewable Energy Large Variable Speed Generators – European Trends. The seminar provided a panoramic view of various electric machine and power electronic designs and their controls in hydro and wind energy conversion applications. Recent systems that reached industrial stage and new developments were discussed in terms of their topologies, relative merits and demerits. Dr. Boldea is Professor of Electrical Engineering at University Politehnica of Timisoara, Romania, a member of the Romanian Academy, a Life Fellow of IEEE and the 2015 IEEE Nikola Tesla awardee. Over the years, he has visited UK on a frequent basis since the 1970’s when he first came to Lexington, KY as an IEEE Fulbright Fellow. More than one hundred students and members of the professional community have attended the event.

PEIK and LG&E-KU Continue Successful Collaboration on Teaching

March 25, 2019 

Over the academic spring break, the UK students enrolled in the Efficient and Renewable Power Systems Operations class have completed the daily field tours of LG&E-KU’s sites and facilities. This second edition of the course attracted record undergraduate and graduate student enrolment and was instructed by Dr. Dan M. Ionel, ECE Professor and L. Stanley Pigman Chair in Power, and Dr. Nick Jewell, Senior Research Engineer with LG&E-KU and Adjunct Professor with the ECE Department at UK.

The visits included the LG&E-KU E. W. Brown facilities for coal, natural gas, and hydro power plants, the largest solar PV power plant in Kentucky together with the multi-MW electric battery research demonstrator, a high voltage transmission substation in Middletown, KY and the state-of-the-art transmission control center in Simpsonville, KY. The class benefited of the on-site lectures as well as of the detailed tour explanations and discussions directly with subject matter engineering experts. The practical aspects complemented very well the theoretical class lectures held on campus during the first part of the semester. The continued successful collaboration between LG&E-KU and PEIK provides students with an opportunity to strongly link the academic teachings with the industrial practice and furthers the development of the next generation of power systems engineers.

Undergraduate Research Fellows on Topics of Electric Power

March 22, 2019

Three electric power engineering students: Rosemary Alden, Evan Jones, and Luke Wormald are working on exciting projects as part of a new Undergraduate Research Fellowship program initiated last fall by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE). Rosemary's project, “Smart Plug and Smart Home Energy Management System”, is sponsored by the ECE Department, the TVA professorship endowment, and the SPARK program. Evan's project, “Renewable Energy-Based Microgrid in Rural Eastern Kentucky”, is sponsored by the Schneider Electric Company through a donation for the ECE Department. Luke’s project “Studying Low-Cost Battery Management Systems” is sponsored by the ECE Department and the L. Stanley Pigman Chair in Power endowment. The students are mentored by Dr. Dan M. Ionel, ECE Professor and Director of the Power and Energy Institute of Kentucky (PEIK).

Each fellowship, which granted $5,000 per student, was awarded following a proposal and selection process. The three undergraduate students currently perform their research on electric power topics in the SPARK Lab and enjoy being part of a larger group that includes Ph.D. students and post-doctoral researchers. Preliminary results will be presented in late April at the UK Showcase of Undergraduate Scholars and the ECE Research Symposium, while research will continue into the summer.

PEIK and LG&E and KU Joint Displays at UK's E-Day Attract Record Attendance

February 25, 2019

On Saturday February 23rd, PEIK and LG&E and KU jointly exhibited at the Engineering Day on UK’s campus. The initiative was reflective of the growing close collaboration between the two organizations on teaching, research, and outreach to the professional and STEM students communities, and of the UK CoE support for multidisciplinary engineering. Altogether, the entire E-Day event, hosted nearly 3,000 visitors.

PEIK students demonstrated their “world’s largest wind turbine”, a LEGO replica of the world’s most powerful wind turbine, Vestas V-164, which was “engineered” with an enlarged tower model to a record total height of 5.5ft. Other displays included a full-size electric bike for stationary demonstrations, and miniatures for electric cars and solar PV systems. Video displays featured real-life utility-size power systems and renewable energy installations, including Kentucky’s largest 10MW PV power plant and 1MW/2MW battery from LG&E and KU’s E.W. Brown site. The PEIK and LG&E-KU E-Day displays were located in the atrium of the RGAN building next to the UK’s Solar Car exhibits and attracted record attendance.

PEIK Welcomes New Faculty Jiangbiao He

January 23, 2019

PEIK is pleased to announce the addition of new faculty member Jiangbiao He. Dr. He is an Assistant Professor and the first recipient of the L. Stanley Pigman Faculty Fellowship in the electric power area within the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of Kentucky. Dr. He previously worked in industry, most recently as a Lead Engineer at GE Global Research in Niskayuna, NY focusing on the development of high-performance power electronic systems for aviation and renewable energy applications. At GE, he contributed to the development of the world’s first megawatt-scale medium-voltage high-frequency propulsion drive for hybrid-electric aircrafts. In addition, Dr. He also worked on the power converter reliability investigation for GE’s 12-MW Haliade-X offshore wind turbine system design. Previously, he was with Rockwell Automation and, before that, with Eaton Global Research & Technology working on regenerative motor drives and SiC-based high-efficiency power converters, respectively. Dr. He’s research interests include high performance power electronic systems, electric motor drives, and renewable energies. He has published more than 50 technical journal and conference papers in electric power energy area, in addition to more than 10 patent applications. 

As an active IEEE Senior Member, Dr. He has been appointed as Editor or Associate Editor for several prestigious journals in electric power area. He also has served as the Secretary of the Standards Sub-committee for IEEE Industrial Drives group and organizing committee member on large international conferences, including ECCE-2018, IEMDC-2019 and ITEC-2019. 

PEIK Adjunct Faculty Dr. Nicholas Jewell of LG&E and KU Named 2018's Top Innovator by Public Utilities Fortnightly

January 17, 2019

Dr. Nick Jewell, LG&E and KU Senior Research Engineer and UK ECE Adjunct Professor, was selected to receive this national distinguished recognition for his innovative work on LG&E and KU's E.W. Brown Energy Storage Research and Demonstration site, which incorporates a utility-scale 1MW/2MWh battery system, advanced MW-level power electronics converters, controllable test load, and advanced data measurement and SCADA systems. The experimental work at the site looks to develop solutions for both technological issues with the developing technology, as well as interconnection and integration difficulties that utilities may face with distributed energy resources.  The work also contributed directly to the new Energy Storage Integration Council (ESIC) Energy Storage Test Manual, coordinated by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). The energy storage facilities are located next to Kentucky's largest PV power plant, 10 MW, as well as traditional coal, gas, and hydro generation operated by LG&E and KU.

Public Utilities Fortnightly’s selection of 2018's Top Innovators was based on more than 160 nominations representing 37 companies. Ultimately, only a dozen individuals or teams were selected for this prestigious professional recognition.

At UK and PEIK, Dr. Jewell collaborates closely with faculty on teaching, including on-campus lectures and expert guided field tours at operational power systems facilities, and on advising graduate student research, especially on topics of energy storage and renewable energy integration. Last year, Dr. Jewell published four technical papers together with UK faculty and students that are reflective of the growing collaboration between PEIK and LG&E and KU on research topics, in addition to teaching and outreach activities.