beta testing

BETA TESTING PLATFORMS

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 DISTRIBUTED TECHNOLGIES TESTING PLATFORM

The DTTP is a major resource for accomplishing beta testing (multi-month, pre-commercial testing) and demonstrating distributed energy technologies from a few watts to several megawatts with combined heat and power (CHP).

»Sample test facility

Mission

Advance distributed technologies
Develop technical solutions
Research iIntegration issues
Research deployment issues
Bridge between
- University
- Industry
- Agencies
- National Laboratories
- Market
Engage market

Platforms

Grid connectivity, power quality, emissions, reliability, availability, maintainability, durability, usability, and fuel flexibility of distributed energy technologies are only some of the qualities that DTTP can analyze through beta testing. The DTTP incorporates multiple levels of beta testing:

Platform I: High Supervision

At Platform I, the technologies are first tested with a high degree of supervision, monitoring, and oversight with engineers and scientists available to accomplish the testing, analysis, and oversight. This is the traditional level of beta-testing. The requirements of distributed energy resources (DER) for local deployment have led to a need for additional levels of testing.

This platform beta testing takes place right at the NFCRC.

Platform II: Low-Level Supervision

 

Central Plant photo
Central Plant

Platform II beta testing is conducted with a lower level of supervision in order to accomplish the thousands of hours of testing required to establish reliability, availability, maintainability, durability, and usability (RAMDU). The principal site for this activity is the UCI Central Power Plant, where trained operators check the testing at periodic intervals and address particular needs immediately. In addition, the Central Plant provides CHP connectivity for those units that are outfitted with waste heat recovery.

Platform III: Practical

Platform Level III will be deployed typically in real-world settings. This adds an additional requirement for beta testing, namely direct-user beta testing of advanced power and energy technologies. Examples include:

P3: Power Parks

With the cooperation of The Irvine Company (TIC) the developer of the University Research Park (URP), Southern California Gas (SCG) and Southern California Edison (SCE), this commercial real estate "power park" development has been prepared for third-level beta testing of advanced power and energy technologies. The proximity to the University of California, Irvine and the cooperation amongst the participants (NFCRC, TIC, SCG, and SCE) has led to the installation of infrastructure and the preparation of clients for real-world testing of advanced power and energy technologies. The intent is to


UCI University Research Park aerial photo
UCI University Research Park

address distributed generation integration issues in real time. Some of these include:

  • Interconnection issues, agreements
  • Architectural standards and collaboration
  • Building codes
  • Natural gas infrastructure and design
  • Electricity integration and distribution
  • Micro-grid capabilities
  • Communications
  • Information technology development, monitoring
  • Market perceptions

P3: Municipalities

There are proactive municipalities and government agencies that are installing and utilizing fuel cells today. Not only do they reap the benefits of fuel cells but they also act as a "magnet for industry." The knowledge, understanding and development of the process for permitting, purchasing and installing these units can be positively impacted by their early role in the roll out of the technology.

P3: Waste Water Treatment Facilities

An anaerobic digester is a municipal waste water treatment system that produces a methane-rich gas which can be fed to a fuel cell. Anaerobic digestion is a biochemical process in which particular kinds of bacteria digest biomass in an oxygen-free environment. Several different types of bacteria work together to break down complex organic wastes in stages, resulting in the production of "biogas."

Controlled anaerobic digestion requires an airtight chamber, called a digester. To promote bacterial activity, the digester must maintain a temperature of at least 68° F. Using higher temperatures, up to 150° F, shortens processing time, allowing the digester to handle a larger volume of organic waste. The waste heat from fuel cells can be used to facilitate this process.

The biogas produced in a digester (also known as "digester gas") is actually a mixture of gases, with methane and carbon dioxide (CO2) making up more than 90 percent of the total. Biogas typically contains smaller amounts of hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen, hydrogen, methylmercaptans and oxygen which must be processed in order not poison a fuel cell.

P3: Agricultural

In the case of Agricultural applications, fuel cells can both use agricultural byproducts (biomass) as a source for fuel as well as reap the benefits of fuel cell electric generation in order to ensure reliable power.

There are many critical agricultural activites that would be negatively impacted by a loss of power. For example, the cooling of chicken farms.

chicken farm

»Sample test facility

 

 GRID CONNECTIVITY TESTING PLATFORMS (GCTP)

The NFCRC has established unique testing capabilities regarding the many issues associated with connecting fuel cell and other distributed generation technologies to the grid system. The Grid Connectivity Testing Platforms (GCTP) recognizes the substantial need for development and deployment of utility grid-connected distributed generation and the considerable research, development and, policy issues that need to be addressed.

Exploration of the issues of grid connectivity, has led to the establishment of three levels of testing at the NFCRC, analogous to those of the Distributed Technologies Testing Platform (DTTP).

Level I GCTP provides plug-and-play access to the grid, a "virtual grid," dissipaters, power generators for different inverter technologies, and different grid scenarios. The uniquely designed virtual grid allows testing of the impact of grid upsets (programmed and controlled on the fly) impact on the emerging grid connectivity technologies.

Level II grid connectivity beta testing is accomplished using the UC Irvine campus grid.

Level III uses the flexible micro-grid associated with the University Research Park or Power Park

 

CURRENT PROJECTS

 UNIVERSITY RESEARCH PARK: POWER PARK

Aerial photo of the University Research Park  

In May of 2000, the University Research Park, adjacent to the UC Irvine campus, officially became a "Power Park." This designation, which comes from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), turns the park into a showcase facility, or "living laboratory" for the demonstration and evaluation of next-generation power and energy technologies.

The DOE defines Power Parks as "cost- competitive collections of optimized distributed energy resources (DER) joined by a mini-grid and often by a district energy loop and advanced telecommunications."

With the cooperation of the developer of the University Research Park (URP) - the Irvine Company (TIC), Southern California Gas (SCG) and Southern California Edison (SCE), this commercial real estate development has been prepared to accept and accommodate third-level beta testing of advanced power and energy technologies.

The proximity to the University of California, Irvine and the cooperation amongst the participants has led to the installation of infrastructure and the preparation of clients for the real-life testing of advanced power and energy technologies.

The energy technologies planned for the University Research Park include fuel cells, gas turbine engines, micro-turbine generators, photo-voltaic systems, advanced vehicle concepts, energy management systems, advanced information technology for monitoring and control, and others.

The intent is to address distributed generation integration issues in real time. Some of these include:

· Interconnection issues, agreements
· Architectural standards and collaboration
· Building Codes
· Natural Gas infrastructure and design
· Electricity integration and distribution
· Micro-grid capabilities
· Communications
· Information Technology development, monitoring
· Market Perceptions

Today, the infrastructure has been installed such that each building can utilize 500 kW of distributed generation, such as fuel cells. The site is deemed "distributed generation ready."

In 2000, the first energy efficient and environmentally sensitive technology introduced in the living laboratory was the Toyota e.com vehicle - a city battery electric vehicle (CEV), a part of the NFCRC's ZEV•NET Initiative.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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