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Kiron Mateti,
NSF Graduate Fellow

NSF GK-12 Project: Pennsylvania State University
Graduate Research and Education in Advanced Transportation Technology (GREATT)
URL: http://csats.psu.edu/GREATT/

Thesis Title: Brushless Self-Excited Synchronous Field Winding Machine for Variable Speed Drive Applications
College/University: Pennsylvania State University

Research Advisor: Heath Hofmann

Degree Sought
Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering

University Department and/or Lab
Department of Electrical Engineering, Power Electronics Research Lab

Research Focus
My research will develop an electric machine with increased control, performance and reliability and reduced material costs compared with traditional electric machines for use in hybrid electric vehicle and power generation applications.

Description of Research
Synchronous field winding AC electric machines have benefits over other machine designs including accurate control of field currents, operation over a wide speed range, and high power density. Current machine designs, however, require slip rings and carbon brushes to make a connection from the stator to the rotor, or a rotary transformer to provide current to the rotor. These are both undesirable because of extra maintenance and an increase in space, mass and cost.

The research conducted will develop a brushless, self-excited synchronous field winding machine that does not require slip rings or a rotary transformer but will provide all the benefits of traditional field winding machines. The material costs will be less, and safety factor increased than that of interior permanent magnet machines. The control and performance will be greater than that of induction machines. The machine will have applications in high performance applications such as hybrid electric vehicles and power generation.

Example of how my research is integrated into my GK-12 experience
Teaching electricity and magnetism physics allows me to integrate my research into the GREATT project. Electric motors and magnets are great ways to get kids excited about physics and continue to excite me. This complex subject can be taught to all grade levels. The depth of the material can be adjusted to fit kindergarten classes, while it can be expanded for high school physics classes. Some examples of activities that have been used include:

(1) Generating electricity using hand-crank generators (stripped from the popular hand-cranked flashlights)
(2) Making simple DC motors (using insulated copper wire, batteries, and permanent magnets)
(3) Making electromagnets using nails (using insulated copper wire and batteries)
(4) Making magnets from silverware (by rubbing permanent magnets against silverware)

In addition to these activities, discussing how electric machines impact our lives integrates my research. It often surprises students that they can find at least five electric machines in their classroom.

Students are often concerned with the global climate change and energy issues. Discussing clean power generation such as hydroelectric, wind, geothermal, and wave power interests students and is important for our future. These children might provide the solutions for today’s problems.

Profile date: September 2007
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