National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission Celebrates Five-Year Anniversary

The National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission at the University of Arkansas opened during the fall semester of 2008. At NCREPT, up to six megawatts of electricity — enough power for over 300 homes — can be harnessed to test the performance and reliability of power electronic devices such as chargers for electric vehicles and safety devices for the power grid.

NCREPT is the highest-powered power electronics test facility at any university in the United States. The center, located at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park, consists of a 7,000-square-foot building. Large testing bays take up most of the space, which also includes office space, a meeting room and a control room. The center was established with funds from the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation and the University of Arkansas.

Alan Mantooth, Distinguished Professor of electrical engineering and director of the national center, explained that the center’s goal is to develop and accelerate power electronics technologies for the electric power grid and to serve as a resource for researchers and industry. One of the projects completed at the center, a high-temperature silicon carbide power module, won an R&D 100 award from R&D Magazine in 2009. The project was a collaboration among the University of Arkansas, Arkansas Power Electronics International, Sandia National Laboratories and Rohm Co. Ltd. Current research at NCREPT includes a fault current limiter, which can prevent blackouts, and a charger for electric vehicles.

“Research at NCREPT addresses things the world will always need: faster, cheaper and smaller electronic devices, and reliable, distributed and renewable sources of energy,” said Mantooth, who holds the Twenty-First Century Endowed Chair in Mixed-Signal IC Design and CAD. “We’re going from the basic science all the way to commercialization. This will provide a transformation in electronics technologies that will positively impact the world through energy, the environment and the economy.”

“NCREPT is one of the jewels of the College of Engineering," said John English, dean of the College of Engineering. "It’s more than a place to conduct research—NCREPT brings together our innovative faculty members and the industry partners who turn ideas into reality. At the same time, it’s a great resource for our students, a place where they can participate in research and get a first-hand look at the impact engineering can have.”

 

Contacts

Camilla Medders, Director of Communications
College of Engineering
(479) 422-6571, camillam@uark.edu

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