In 2015, the BCIT SMART team and Vancouver based NuGrid Power Corporation received funding from the BC Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) Fund and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to develop a testing lab for optical medium-voltage current and voltage sensors. This lab will provide an environment for testing and characterizing new types of sensors for advanced grid applications.
In addition to creating an innovative test platform, BCIT and NuGrid Power Corporation are developing new test strategies and use cases to validate the performance and accuracy of NuGrid’s designs. As well, to ensure that the novel sensors meet the intended design targets and specifications.
“The BCIT Medium Voltage Testing Lab adds yet another state-of-the-art technology development platform to the BCIT Smart Microgrid capabilities.” says Dr. Hassan Farhangi, BCIT Director, Smart Microgrid Applied Research Team. “This lab provides our industry partners, students, and faculty with access to a world-class validation and verification environment to allow their ideas, prototypes, and products to be safely validated and verified.”
BCIT students and research associates have worked on different phases of the project, accumulating significant experience and know-how in the validation and verification of such technologies. Other partners, such as Powertech Labs Inc., in Surrey, BC, (a subsidiary of BC Hydro) provided support with preliminary safety measures, related to the testing activities in the Medium Voltage Testing lab and in compliance with the industry best practices.
NuGrid staff was closely involved in designing the lab, as well as manufacturing optical voltage sensors for testing at BCIT. NuGrid researchers are developing algorithms for temperature compensation of the optical voltage and current sensors and investigating the impact of the presence of high currents on such components for utility applications.
“This collaboration is important to NuGrid not just because it allows us to leverage our investment to help create a lab to help solve critical technology development challenges, but more importantly, it allows us to work with students and faculty in focusing on developing the next generation of power systems expertise for the grid,” says Dr. Farnoosh Rahmatian, NuGrid Founder. “We want to both help develop the talent and have them join us in creating new solutions.”
The development of optical sensing for line measurements for the medium voltage grid has the potential to provide Canadian utility companies with the technology needed to conduct safe and accurate measurements of the critical parameters of their distribution system. Moreover, this technology will encourage more research in Canadian universities into more advanced signal processing and optimization techniques required to reduce the cost and increase the reliability of the grid.
The BCIT Smart Microgrid Applied Research Team converges Information Technology, Electrical Engineering, Communication Engineering and Computing fields to develop prototypes and solutions for complex applied research problems. Our group conducts applied R&D in emerging and next generation technologies and helps stimulate BC’s IT industry through joint, collaborative industry, academic, and government research.