Santa Clara University

sustainable

Research

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Dr. Mark Aschheim applies his expertise in earthquake-resistant structural engineering to the development of structural systems and materials having reduced embodied energy and environmental impact. These include bamboo beams and trusses, stabilized soil block walls and arches, straw bale wall assemblies, and bio-based boards made from waste straw and the digestate from anaerobic digestion of manure. He also oversees some research on the 2007 Solar Decathlon house relating to Building-Integrated Photovoltaics, module and array level power maximization technologies, and carbon meters.

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Dr. Monem Beitelmal's current activities are focused on developing new metrics for sustainable energy usage of data centers power and cooling. Both computational and experimental approaches are used utilizing thermodynamics analysis. He is also working on developing a research tread for energy efficiency in computing systems and high density data centers utilizing statistical models. This includes the analysis of alternative energy (solar, wind or fuel cells) use in powering and cooling data centers. In addition, he is interested in developing a research tread for thermal control of data centers which include sensing, monitoring and control logic for accurate environmental behavior predictions.

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Dr. Drazen Fabris is working on cooling of electronic components. One project involves understanding the physical processes that are dominant in spray cooling. Controlled sprays can lead to removal of high heat flux in an efficient process that can minimize the fluid required and the overall energy usage. The second project is to develop more effective thermal interface materials. A thermal interface material is used to improve the heat conduction from electronic components to heat sinks and heat pipes. These projects can have beneficial impact on reducing the energy usage in computing.

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Dr. Silvia Figueira's Energy-Aware Computing, previous research has demonstrated that using multiple CPUs is more energy-efficient than using a CPU that is multiple times faster. However, for multiple CPUs to be cost-effective, they need to be used properly, shifting the responsibility to the software side. From the operating system to the applications, energy-aware software is supposed (or expected) to use effectively the multiple CPUs available. The operating system needs to make sure that CPUs are scheduled in such a way that a ready task only waits if all the CPUs are busy. From a different perspective, some applications or programs may be able to be implemented in a multi-threaded fashion to execute on more than one CPU concurrently. This research project includes the study of techniques to improve the usage of multiple CPUs through the energy-efficient use of multiple threads.

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Dr. Tim Healy

Dr. Tim Healy focuses his interests on the measurement of solar and artificial radiation on the characterization of photovoltaic cells, and on a wide range of other approaches to sustainable electric energy. he directs the Latimer Energy Laboratory, developed for teaching and research opportunities in these areas. The laboratory serves students from the pre-college level up to graduate engineering. A major concentration at this time is on a group of young students called Latimer Energy Scholars, who specialize in the areas above throughout their years at SCU.

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Dr. Hohyun Lee is working on nanostructure engineering of materials for the efficient energy conversion of thermoelectric or photovoltaic materials. Thermoelectric materials can generate electricity out of wasted heat, while photovoltaic materials convert solar irradiation into electricity. These technologies can be applied to distributed power generation as well as mobile power source for wireless sensor networking. Transport phenomena in nanostructures should be explored both experimentally and theoretically in order to understand how we improve such materials. In addition to material development, Dr. Lee is working the actual renewable energy system design.

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Dr. Aleksandar Zečević and Dr. Dragoslav Šiljak : Power System Research
Much of our research over the past 15 years has been devoted to the development of new algorithms for control design under information structure constraints. This problem is of great theoretical and practical interest for large-scale systems, where only a small subset of variables can typically be measured and used for control purposes. In the case of electric power systems, the primary structural constraint is that controllers can use only locally available information, due to large geographical distances between generators. In practice, this means that the system must be stabilized using decentralized control, or one of its variants.

In addition to incorporating decentralized structural constraints, the control law must also account for modeling uncertainties. These uncertainties arise from the fact that mathematical descriptions of large-scale power systems are often only approximate. As a result, the control must be designed in such a way that it ensures satisfactory performance over a broad range of operating conditions. A control design that has this capability is said to be robust.

Over the past ten years, we have developed a number of algorithms for designing robust decentralized exciter and turbine/governor control. An attractive feature of these methods is the fact that the resulting controllers are linear, and are therefore easy to implement. It should also be noted that the gain matrices can be obtained directly, using linear matrix inequalities (LMIs). The optimization procedures that we have developed are computationally efficient, and are suitable for large-scale power systems.

In addition to control-related problems, in the past we also worked on decomposition algorithms for power systems (mainly epsilon and BBD decompositions), as well as problems related to generation redispatch and voltage stability. A brief list of the relevant publications is provided below. Some of this material is also provided in: A. I. Zečević and D. D. Šiljak, Control of Complex Systems: Structural Constraints and Uncertainty, Springer, New York, 2010.