NSF PFI Commercialization of the Solid State Transformer through Strategic Partnership


A picture of power lines.The NSF FREEDM Systems Center at NC State University led by Professor Alex Huang is focusing on the development of a number of key technologies to support a new electric power grid. One of these technologies is the revolutionary solid-state transformer (SST). The FREEDM Center has received support for an NSF Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) Grant that would seek to accelerate the commercialization of this technology. Duke Energy and GridBridge Inc., a startup company, are focusing on furthering the development of technology associated with the FREEDM Systems Center.

The broader impact of this research is the fact that SST-related technology is a step-function change required to truly orchestrate a “smart grid.” Today’s existing distribution transformer, designed over a century ago, lacks the ability to send or receive signals, make decisions, regulate power flow, and easily accommodate green technology (including renewable generation).

The research prototypes associated with the project change this scenario with the use of power electronics. It is a critical component for micro grid environments and offers many potential features that will be required in the next generation distribution grid. The research within this project will lead to products that aid in minimizing the need for new centralized generation facilities, minimizing blackouts, and integrating renewables and other green technology into the grid system.