Automated control of a solar microgrid-powered air compressor for use in a small-scale compressed air energy storage system
Williams, Joshua N.
Gannon, Anthony J.
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As part of the Office of Naval Research's study of advanced energy technologies, this research examined the development and implementation of a control system for the compression phase of a small-scale compressed air energy storage system, using a solar-powered microgrid to store energy as compressed air for later use. The compression system is composed of numerous commercial-off-the-shelf components wherever possible. All electronic components must also be able to communicate with the control system for proper operation. An industrial control system was selected for robustness, with an attached human-machine interface for system indications. The compression system is powered by a solar microgrid that temporarily stores energy in ultracapacitors. This allows the compression system to run even when the available solar radiance is not sufficient to power the compressor directly. By monitoring the ultracapacitors and the available solar radiance, the control system can maximize the compressor run time during a given solar cycle, enabling the system to store the maximum amount of energy possible. This research demonstrates the use of a small-scale compressed air energy storage system as a viable long-term energy storage solution for microgrid applications.
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