FREEDM Systems Center Gains Nine New Industry Members

March 21, 2013 by Jeff Shepard

The National Science Foundation's Gen-III ERC Program, the FREEDM Systems Center, has announced nine new members including Total, SAS, Toshiba, Sarda Technologies, Fairchild Semiconductor, Ford, The Digital Grid Consortium, Triangle Technology Ventures, and Earl Energy. The goal of the Center is to create a culture of innovation in engineering research and education that links scientific discovery to technological innovation through transformational engineered systems research. ERC's make advances in technology and produce engineering graduates who will be creative innovators in a global economy.

The envisioned FREEDM System is a revolutionary power grid based on power electronics, high bandwidth digital communication, and distributed control. It is radically different from today's grid because it replaces electromagnetic devices such as 60-Hz transformers with solid state transformers. In this system, solid state based protection devices will also replace mechanical switches. The four-quadron power flow control provided by the solid state transformer allows the plug-and-play of the distributed generations and also allows for the addition of storages and loads to the grid with no adverse effects on nearby users. The solid state transformer will provide unmatched power quality improvement to residential users and industry customers. The system understands the value of different types of energy and maximizes green energy utilization, which improves the energy efficiency of the total system.

The FREEDM system is the "internet for energy", it will transform the power industry in a similar way that the internet transformed the computer industry from the mainframe computer paradigm to the distributed computing we have today. Such a paradigm shift will be accompanied by massive innovation in green energy technologies. The FREEDM System allows every energy user to not only be a customer, but to also act as an innovator of energy. Details of the new members are as follows:

Total joined as a Full member - A global energy producer and provider with operations that span the oil and gas chain. One of their core commitments is the development of alternative energies such as solar, biomass, and nuclear power.

SAS is a new Associate member - The leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. With innovative business applications supported by an enterprise intelligence platform, SAS helps 45,000 organizations improve performance and deliver value by making better decisions faster.

Toshiba is also a new Associate member - A diversified manufacturer and marketer of advanced electronic and electrical products, spanning information and communications equipment and systems, Internet-based solutions and services, electronic components and materials, power systems, industrial and social infrastructure systems, and household appliances.

Sarda Technologies is an Affiliate member - A fabless power semiconductor company. Sarda’s products are used in dc-dc voltage converters for portable, enterprise, and consumer systems. Sarda’s highly efficient power semiconductors reduce power loss, increase system performance, and extend battery life while reducing system size, weight, and cost.

Fairchild Semiconductor is an Affiliate member - A leading global provider of semiconductor technologies that address some of today’s most important technology challenges. Fairchild builds on a rich history of semiconductor innovation, leveraging advances in packaging, proprietary technologies and experience in semiconductor design and manufacturing to deliver power and mobile semiconductor solutions for a broad range of applications.

Ford is an Affiliate member - A global automotive industry leader that manufactures and distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 172,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. Ford is working on developing hybrid electric vehicles and electric vehicles. They are also involved with Southern California Edison (another FREEDM member) on a project to examine how plug-in hybrids work with the electrical grid.

The Digital Grid Consortium is an Affiliate member - A not-for-profit corporation based in Tokyo, Japan with a mission to develop the next generation grid system, which will enable a market driven energy economy. The Consortium promotes and coordinates collaboration among members, to promote, educate, and advocate for the adoption of innovative digital grid solutions all over the world.

Triangle Technology Ventures is an Affiliate member - A small business committed to partnering with top-tiered government contractors to deliver Leading Edge Information Technology solutions to its clients.

Earl Energy is an Affiliate member - A veteran owned and operated company that designs and builds generator hybridization products for the military and industrial customers. Their systems integrate a variety of energy storage technologies, including lithium-ion batteries and ultracapacitors, to deliver significant fuel and maintenance savings. Their products are specifically designed for off-grid markets on the battlefield, at sea, and in remote locations where reliable electrical power is critical, expensive, and primarily reliant on diesel power generation.