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An Open Hardware, Open Source Electronic Load Bank and Data Acquisition System For Expanding the Number of Schools and Students Researching Battery Energy Storage

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Curricular Developments in Energy Education II

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.197.1 - 22.197.13

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Paper Authors

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Tyler Grandahl

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Gianfranco Biondi

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Clark Hochgraf Rochester Institute of Technology

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An Open Hardware, Open Source Electronic Load Bank and Data Acquisition System For Expanding the Number of Schools and Students Researching Battery Energy StorageIn their 2010 National Energy Policy Recommendations, IEEE USA identifies energy storageas a critical technology for electric vehicles, the Smart Grid, and for renewable energysources like wind and solar. Many undergraduate and graduate students are interested inbattery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, and renewable power systems that utilize batteryenergy storage systems.Cycle life, energy density, and cost are key factors in the successful application of batteryenergy storage. In many applications, the aspect of cycle life has not been addressed asthoroughly as performance or cost. One driving reason for this is that life cycle tests canrequire months or years to perform at room temperature and require very expensive loadbanks, chargers and data acquisition systems. The cost of these systems is prohibitive forgraduate studies unless significant funding is available from a grant or existing assets can beused. The situation is even worse for undergraduates who want to study energy storage, astypically even less funding is available to support them, regardless of their talent, enthusiasm,and dedication.We believe the lack of affordable electronic load banks, chargers, data acquisition systems,and software to run these systems is a barrier to rapid progress in energy storage systems.Therefore in 2009 we began a project to develop an affordable open source, open hardwaresystem for performing life cycle measurements on energy storage systems including batteriesand ultracapacitors. This paper describes the system design philosophy, design choices,definition of load cycles from industry standard for PHEV testing. Students played a leadingrole in the development of this open source system, solving many technical challenges. Thehardware design provides a platform for studying feedback control systems, signalprocessing and hardware/software interfacing.It is hoped that this paper and presentation will lead to an exchange of ideas about how todevelop and apply open hardware in a variety of educational settings.

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