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A Low Cost Power Quality And Energy Savings Laboratory For Undergraduate Education And Research

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Energy Projects and Laboratory Ideas

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.55.1 - 9.55.8

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Paper Authors

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Vance Poteat

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Abdullatif Bagegni

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session #3133

A Low Cost Power Quality and Energy Savings Laboratory for Undergraduate Education and Research Abdullatif Bagegni, Vance Poteat Merrimack College


This paper describes the design and implementation of a power quality and energy savings laboratory at Merrimack College. Merrimack College is a liberal arts institution north of Boston, MA, which has a small ABET accredited ECE department with 6 faculty and about 90 students. There is strong student interest in learning about power, and local utilities seek graduates with expertise in power. A new course in Power Quality (PQ) has proven popular. A laboratory experience, which includes elements of power quality and energy savings, has been designed and implemented. In addition, the ECE department now requires a sophomore level class in embedded controllers. An extension to the PQ laboratory experience that incorporates embedded controllers has also been designed.

The lab set up is based on maximizing student understanding in conjunction with minimizing costs. The students learn causes, impacts, and solutions of PQ problems. They learn how to design a power factor correction capacitor bank and an LC filter to mitigate harmonics. They also conduct simulations of the power system network, and analyze system data. The students are taught methods of calculating energy savings due to the addition of PQ components to the network. One implemented design resulted in savings of over 5 kWh, which based on local rates conservatively gives a yearly savings of $2,600 for the science building alone. The PQ components consist mainly of reactors, capacitors and the monitoring system.

A further, complementary laboratory experience incorporating low cost embedded microprocessor designs used to control the PQ system via a remotely accessible, secure TCP/IP Ethernet link has been designed. This additional circuitry allows real time monitoring of the network and modification of the PQ elements based on dynamic loading 24 hours a day. Implementing such a system can yield yet additional energy savings. The embedded processor students, both from ECE and Computer Science, are planned to have remote access to the lab and will be encouraged to help with the development via laboratory assignments.

An Introduction to Power Quality and the Power Quality Problems in the Mendel Science Building

It is the objective of the electric utility to supply its customers with a sinusoidal voltage of relatively constant magnitude. The generators that produce the electric power generate a very close approximation to a sinusoidal signal. However, there are loads and devices on the system that have linear and nonlinear characteristics and result in voltage sag, voltage spikes, voltage

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Poteat, V., & Bagegni, A. (2004, June), A Low Cost Power Quality And Energy Savings Laboratory For Undergraduate Education And Research Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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