EAGER: Arc Flash Detection in Photovoltaic DC Arrays Using Wavelets
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Research Objectives and ApproachesThe objective of this research is to experimentally determine the feasibility of wavelet theory to detect arc flash in photovoltaic energy systems as a warning of incipient arc fault. The approach is to identify, develop, and verify wavelet transform algorithms, implement the technique in digital signal processing hardware, build an arc flash test chamber, and test using the photovoltaic array infrastructure at Texas A&M University. From small-scale residential systems to large-scale utility systems, arcing poses serious threats to human safety and hinders widespread adoption of photovoltaic energy.Intellectual MeritThis project will conduct experimental verification through proof-of-concept design and testing of the efficacy of the wavelet transform, potentially transforming how arc fault detection is conducted. The proposed research is transformative because present state-of-the-art methods can only detect series arc faults by sensing the current in a direct current system and relying upon frequency or time-domain pattern recognition algorithms rather than fundamental signal decomposition.Broader impactsThe proposed method senses the bus voltage and uses simpler, less expensive sensors than those needed to current, thus lowering the cost of safe, reliable photovoltaic energy. Use of these concepts has broad applications to any direct-current system, including microgrid, building systems, server systems and telecom systems. The PI has a history of technology transfer, is active in relevant standards development (UL 1699B), and has a demonstrated commitment to educating a diverse cleantech/greentech workforce. This project will offer students hands-on instrumentation training as well as opportunities for research analysis and publications.