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UTA researcher explores integration and power electronic regulation of batteries for Navy

This post was produced by a local organization. The Dallas Morning News newsroom was not involved in the creation, editing or selection of this content.

David Wetz


Enhancing energy storage


As the U.S. Navy looks to the future, it continues to seek ways to integrate AC and DC sources and loads on board its next-generation power systems. 

David Wetz, professor of electrical engineering at The University of Texas at Arlington and an expert on batteries and energy storage, has received a four-year, $800,000 grant from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) to explore the integration of energy storage into power system architectures that are regulated using intelligent, power electronic power distribution. 

The grant is part of the Power Electronic Power Distribution Systems (PEPDS) program, in which a new power, energy, and control distribution concept is studied using high-power-density, high-efficiency power electronics to switch and regulate power from multiple distributed generation power sources, including distributed and load-dedicated energy storage.

“Energy storage will play a vital role in future shipboard power needs,” Wetz said. “My expertise in this area and familiarity with Navy needs will allow me to assist them in determining how best to integrate energy storage into the PEPDS architecture.” 

Wetz, who joined UTA in 2010, has worked extensively with ONR on issues related to shipboard power storage and distribution. He runs the UTA Pulsed Power and Energy Lab, which addresses issues concerning pulsed power systems as well as safety, thermal and lifetime challenges in batteries that operate at higher-than-normal power rates to provide higher output in increasingly smaller packages.

Wetz’s recent ONR-funded research includes investigating high-voltage dielectric insulation properties of epoxy and additively manufactured materials to learn how these solid materials can be dielectrically altered to improve their insulation properties in compact high-voltage systems. 

He is also intentionally inducing controlled short-circuit events to evaluate any arcs that form to determine if an arc flash can be induced at specific voltages and battery sizes and, if so, whether it can be sustained long enough to cause serious harm. Doing so will allow Wetz to provide recommendations for how much personal protective equipment is necessary for sailors and engineers working in future Navy power systems.

The grant number for this project is N00014-22-1-2062.

  • Written by Jeremy Agor, College of Engineering
Arlington

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