Powerstar’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership project update (one year in)

A knowledge transfer partnership, or KTP, is a three-way working relationship between a company, a recent graduate (Associate) and a university and lasts from 12 months up to three years. It is a government-backed (Innovate UK) national scheme designed to help companies innovate and develop new products or services to gain a competitive advantage whilst providing a recent graduate (Associate) with the support to deploy their specialist knowledge and skills through real-life applications throughout the lifecycle of a project.

The Scheme – in association with Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) and Innovate UK

The Associates come together at specific stages of the project to meet and network with fellow KTP’s and report on progress. Facilitated by the Sheffield Hallam University, the KTP’s are given a platform to present to peers and other companies their concept, aims and progress throughout.

On 10th May 2017, a KTP Associates day and dinner was held which saw over 10 companies, Associates and supporting teams in attendance, in addition to a mixture of SHU and Innovate UK staff.

Held across two of the University’s high quality facilities the first year associates delivered their updates through a poster presentation (pictured above), whilst second and third years gave a more in-depth presentation surrounding their organisation, project, results and next steps.


Project Title: A Portable PV Inverter System with Battery Energy Storage

Project Brief: This project aims to develop a single-phase PV inverter system with battery energy storage. The prototype is designed to be portable with a 100W-200W power capacity and DC/AC inputs/outputs.

It can energise and recharge devices such as: lights, smartphones, tablets, notebooks, TV sets, and portable fridges. It is in high demand for outdoor events such as camping or outdoor living; as well as for condominium or apartment dwellers that are unable to install permanent PV systems due to lease restrictions. For example, when the grid fails or is not available, people can roll out this equipment from the closet and then use extension cords to power their devices.

This portable, small power device will fill a gap in the company’s energy storage portfolio which is currently designed between 50 kW to 10 MW power under the VIRTUE product line. It will create new business development opportunities and offer customers a comprehensive range of options to meet their individual requirements. Additionally, it can be scaled up or used as a test/development/demonstration platform for the high power VIRTUE system, which is safe, flexible and economical.

About the KTP associate, Dr Olivia Zeng:

After graduating from a Masters degree in Control Science and Engineering within the top 5% of her class at Central South University in China, Olivia continued her education by enrolling onto a PhD in Sheffield studying Control & Power Electronics. Upon completion of her degree, in which she specialised in the droop control for the parallel operation of inverters, she accepted the KTP Associate position with Powerstar.

Olivia is the project manager of the KTP project on Solar PV inverter with battery storage. Working alongside her company supervisor, Dr Steve Yang, Olivia is an asset to the R&D department at Powerstar.

A word from Olivia:

This is a very exciting and interesting project, in which a portable PV inverter System with battery-based energy storage will be designed. With full and dedicated support from the company, the university and Innovate UK, the project is going strong and so far is a win-win project for the company, the university, and myself.

In terms of academic research, I’ve had the opportunity to apply my knowledge and PhD research surrounding inverter control, load sharing and harmonic depression in addition to my understanding of grid synchronisation technology which are being further developed. Meanwhile, there is a lot of scope for me to explore new topics, including the maximum power point tracking (MPPT) of PV panels, DC ripple reduction, management of batteries, control of system power flow and the design of system protection logic. From this, I’ve had the opportunity to form and develop new ideas and innovations on a continual base, which I hope can be built upon and ultimately turned into papers or patents.

In terms of industrial application, it offers on-site training opportunities and allows me to support the company not only as a technical engineer, but also as a project coordinator. I have liaised with and helped coordinate Powerstar’s team of experienced engineers, as well as some partner company’s engineers, and been heavily involved in the testing and trouble shooting of practical industrial systems. This includes a 1 MWh VIRTUE energy storage system and a 50 kW VIRTUE EV fast/rapid charging system; this has exposed me to a ‘bigger picture’ view of how my designs could further develop and has given me invaluable real-life industry experience.

From a personal development perspective, this project offers me considerable training opportunities, including enrolment on to a Level 5 Diploma in Management & Leadership and membership of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), in addition to other relevant training in the coming 2 years.

Interested in learning more?

To keep up to date with Powerstar’s KTP project and other news visit: Powerstar.com/blog

To find out more about KTP projects visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/knowledge-transfer-partnerships-what-they-are-and-how-to-apply

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