The Power Electronics Laboratory brings real-world insights to testing and development of control concepts and technologies for building operations and energy efficiency. Viewed as an experimentation “sandbox,” researchers mine the laboratory’s control and computational resources to learn how their ideas fare in actual building systems and devices.
One of the laboratory’s key features is a set of control nodes used in testing transactive energy methods. The nodes form a network that connects the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)-developed VOLTTRON™ software platform with PNNL buildings, the power grid, and clean energy sources. VOLTTRON™ launches control algorithms into the buildings’ automation systems to manage various functions, such as the operation of heat pumps and the coordination of power consumption with the grid.
The laboratory’s capabilities have been integral to research conducted under the PNNL-led Clean Energy and Transactive Campus and Residential Load Flexibility projects. The latter effort is developing a hardware and software prototype platform to facilitate communications between the grid and devices and systems in existing residential homes. For this purpose, the laboratory enables simulation and testing of controls related to hot water heaters, pool pumps, clothes dryers, and kitchen ranges.
The laboratory is located within the PNNL Systems Engineering Building, is part of the Integrated Building Assets capability, and supports research funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office.