Power and Energy Conference at Illinois Sparks Ideas

At the i-Jet Lab, we always keep an eye out for opportunities to learn and spark creative thinking for our projects. Recently, one of our electrical engineers, Alex, attended the PECI Conference to learn more about power technologies that will shape the future of energy usage and consumption. PECI’s goal is to bring together students and experts from industry and academia to converse in technical presentations. This event draws attendees from all around the world. Alex shared a few notes from his experience:

Promises in simulation technology

There was one company which had a booth, called Plexim, which I found interesting. They develop simulation software and hardware simulators for power electronics and electrical circuits. Some of their simulation products could be useful for developing power electronics hardware. https://www.plexim.com/

An intriguing new type of motor

Probably the most interesting talk I saw was Dan Ludois' keynote speech. He is a professor at UW-Madison, the founder of C-Motive Technologies, and he’s created a very interesting new type of motor: the electrostatic motor. This operates based on the principle of electrostatic force, instead of magnetic force. It is apparently very efficient, has high acceleration, and has very high torque density, but is not yet in mass-production. Here's a link to his company: https://www.c-motive.com/products

Insights from General Motors’ electric vehicles

Samantha Gunter, a UIUC and MIT graduate, and current power converter design engineer at General Motors, gave a presentation called “Drive a More Sustainable Tomorrow,” where she talked about the major power electronics and powertrain components in the two Chevy electric vehicles, the Volt and Bolt. She talked about some of the design challenges they faced while developing their hybrid and electric vehicles, including how to integrate two electric motors for increased efficiency on the Volt, and how to address the effects of cold weather on EV batteries.

In all, PECI was a great conference for electrical engineers interested in power engineering seeking to learn more about current issues and trends in power converters, batteries, electric machines, photovoltaics, and more. You can hear from some of the top engineers and professors in both industry and academia, and even get some in-person training on simulation software.