Spring 2019 4 Thursdays – 497-409: Powering a Home with Photovoltaic Solar Panels, Li-Ion Battery Storage & Intelligent IoT Systems

Meeting Days/Time
Thursdays from 6:25 to 9:05 pm
Pradip Majumdar (Undergraduate Education – with expertise in mechanical engineering) (pdmajumdar@gmail.com)
Appropriate Majors
All interested students are welcome.

Solar PV panels with an integrated battery system is increasingly being considered as a sustainable alternative power generation system for residential housing worldwide. This trend is expected to progress more rapidly with the availability of a new generation of improved and lower cost Li-Ion battery storage systems.

The battery storage system is a critical component for making the solar power system sustainable by stabilizing the fluctuations in the PV power supply and house load demands. One of the critical challenges for the efficient and safe operation of a battery storage system is to maintain the battery cell operating temperature within certain temperature band during the entire charge and discharge cycles. During the battery operation, a significant amount of heat is generated due to several kinds of polarization losses, and hence strongly affects the cell electrochemical, mass and thermal transport phenomena. Thermal heat management and cooling of the battery storage system is essential for efficient and safe operation of the battery storage and avoid any catastrophic situation such as thermal-runway and/or fire.

The main objective of this IPRO experience is to introduce students to contemporary issues such as renewable energy & environmental sustainability, and some cutting-edge technologies and analytical methods. This topic was first introduced as an IPRO course in Spring 2018. A single-family house in a rural town was identified, average power needs were estimated, and a scaled down PV panel system and Internet of Things (IoT) based intelligence system was designed. This IPRO project is currently underway during the fall 2018 semester.  It is expected that the team will use historical weather data to finalize the size and selection of the PV panels and the power needs of the house and develop a preliminary design of the battery storage system. It is also expected that some testing of a scaled down prototype design will be completed.

The goal of the spring 2019 project is to design and develop a full-scale PV solar panel power generation system with an industrial-grade integrated Li-Ion battery storage and intelligent IoT-based monitoring system for powering a single-family house.

In Spring 2019, the project will focus on the design and development of a Li-Ion battery storage system that will be integrated with PV power generation system and the house power load.  The objective is to integrate the solar panels to charge the battery storage system when excess power is available during peak hours of solar incident radiation. During the off-peak hours during evening or early morning, the battery will discharge and meet power needs of the house. The battery storage system will be designed, analyzed and fabricated using a range of charge and discharge rates associated with the PV power generation and house load cycles. Issues such as thermal run-away, safety and environmental concerns will be addressed. A hybrid/active cooling system will be designed, fabricated, and integrated with the intelligent feed-back control system that is designed to continuously stream data from the temperature and flow sensors, as well as capture the data streams from the battery analyzer system. An intelligent monitoring system based on Internet-of-Things (IoT) and wireless sensor technology will be designed for optimum and safe operation of the system.

The team will undertake the following range of tasks:

  • Perform research and develop an understanding of the operation and characteristics of the state-of-the-art PV panel and Li-ion battery technology.
  • Estimate available solar radiation for solar panels based on geographical locations and using National Weather Data Base.
  • Estimate the power needs of the selected house and establish a typical hourly distribution of power demand or demand load cycle.
  • Select and determine the size and number of PV panels that will power the house during daylight hours and store excess energy in the electric storage battery.
  • Finalize the specification and performance characteristics of the PV panels.
  • Select the state-of-the-art battery storage cells/packs, and document the cell specifications and performance characteristics as a function of charge/discharge rates and environmental conditions.
  • Design the battery storage system and determine size in terms of number cells and stack design.
  • Issues such as thermal run-away, safety and environmental concerns will be addressed.
  • Identify mitigation means such as cooling and battery temperature management to avoid any risk of thermal runaway, explosion and fire.
  • Design and develop a smart monitoring system and application software based on Internet-of-Things (IoT) and wireless sensor technology.
  • Perform economic feasibility analysis and cost estimation of the system.
  • Perform tests and demonstrate operations of major components such as PV panels, battery storage and IoT/sensor simulations Apps.
  • A scaled-down prototype design of the system will be fabricated, tested and evaluated (this may ultimately be the goal of a fall 2019 semester).
  • Write a final report and make an oral presentation.
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