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An Analog Power System Emulator As A Laboratory Tool For Teaching Electric Power Systems

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Innovations in ECE Education I

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.175.1 - 14.175.12

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Paper Authors

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Aaron St. Leger United States Military Academy

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Anthony Deese Drexel University

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Chikaodinaka Nwankpa Drexel University

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

An Analog Power System Emulator as a Laboratory Tool for Teaching Electric Power Systems


Most power systems courses incorporate both software and hardware components into laboratories. Each of these technologies has strengths and weaknesses. In this paper, a novel analog power system emulator is presented as a unique laboratory tool for teaching power systems. Hardware laboratories are time consuming and expensive, but are all important to give students a hands on approach to education. In contrast, software laboratories require little setup, however, software packages can have steep learning curves and only approximately represent real system behavior. In addition, due to the non-linear nature of power systems, many software packages suffer from convergence errors. This can cause students great difficulty and frustration in learning. The analog emulator presented here provides favorable aspects of both hardware experimentation and software simulation. Through a simple graphical user interface, it is an easy to use system. However, at the core there is analog hardware emulating the power system behavior. The result is a powerful educational tool. The emulator consists of two main components: software and hardware. The hardware comprises the power system emulation, data acquisition, and control circuitry. The software interfaces with the hardware to allow for control, data acquisition, and subsequent analysis. The emulator, once constructed, requires no manual intervention. All aspects of emulation are directly controlled through the software interface. Moreover, the emulator never fails to converge to a solution and exhibits a low learning curve. The user can configure, control, and observe a virtual power system through the software interface. Changes can be made in real time while the emulator is running. The results will appear instantaneously to the user. Many experiments, such as power system design, stability analysis, power factor correction, etc., can be derived and even automated with this tool.


Power engineering curricula contain laboratory exercises as a key component. Individual exercises typically incorporate either software or hardware, sometimes both in tandem. This paper presents an analog power system emulator as a new tool to enhance traditional hardware/software power system laboratories. This emulator exhibits some advantages when compared to conventional hardware/software tools.

Hardware laboratories are expensive and time consuming to operate as compared to software exercises. As a result, hardware laboratories are usually relegated to studying individual components, such as machines, transformers, power electronic converters, or an interconnection of only a few components. It is simply not feasible to perform hardware based power system analysis, on a large scale, in an educational laboratory. Consequently, software is utilized for system analysis exercises.

Power system simulation software can be classified as one of two types. Software packages are designed to perform either steady-state analyses (power flow solvers) or dynamic analyses (time domain solvers). PowerWorld1 and MatPower2 are examples of power flow solvers and

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