At Florida State University, the Center for Advanced Power Systems (CAPS) is educating the next generation of power engineers and scientists

By Edward Lundquist at December 15, 2010 04:09
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At Florida State University, the Center for Advanced Power Systems (CAPS) is educating the next generation of power engineers and scientists

Workshop examines Next-Generation Integrated Power Systems, Energy & Microgrids

By Edward Lundquist

The Center for Advanced Power Systems (CAPS), a multidisciplinary research center at Florida State University performing basic and applied research to advance the field of power systems technology, recently hosted a workshop on the Next Generation Integrated Power System (NGIPS).  The workshop at the FSU campus in Tallahassee, FL, marked the 10th anniversary of CAPS.

The American Society of Naval Engineers held the two-day workshop, called “Road Ahead for NGIPS, Energy & Microgrid Systems 2010,” to bring together representatives from government, industry and academia to participate in panel discussions about ongoing and planned initiatives regarding naval power systems, alternative energy systems and micro-grids.  More than 150 professionals attended.

CAPS focuses on both naval and civil applications, because studying one benefits the other.  Studying “smart grid” energy supply system,—in which power is generated from multiple sources—also has shipboard applications.

CAPS is funded primarily by the Office of Naval Research (ONR), with additional support from the Department of Energy and some commercial research funding.  “CAPS is the only facility of its kind in the world,” says Dr. Steinar Dale, the director of CAPS.

“Future naval warships will feature the “ultimate smart grid,” Dale says.  “Naval grids are more complex, with loads changing all the time, but a fixed set of generation.  As you try to meet the load, you must be sure the generation remains stable.  So I think the Navy research is very much in the forefront of what our utility grid will look like in the future.

The CAPS test and demonstration facility ( has one of the largest real-time digital power systems simulators, as well as a 5 MW AC and DC test beds for hardware-in-the-loop simulation.

“This is a true marriage of a large scale digital power system simulator and actual large scale hardware, which can be combined to test real hardware in a realistic system environment,” Dale says. “For example, we tested the 5MW high-temperature superconducting motor for the Navy at sea state 5 without going to sea.”

Over the last ten years, the CAPS affiliated faculty at the Florida A&M and FSU College of Engineering have graduated over 30 Ph.D. students and 39 masters degree students.

“We are educating the next generation of power engineers and scientists who get to work on the cutting edge,” Dale says.

The center also is working with a consortium of universities to develop an all-electric Navy ship.  The Electric Ship Research and Development Consortium (ESRDC) brings together in a single entity the combined programs and resources of leading electric power research institutions for research on near to mid-term electric ship concepts. In addition, the consortium addresses the national shortage of electric power engineers by providing educational opportunities for students in state-of-the-art experimental facilities, ensuring the United States superiority in electric systems well into the future. The Office of Naval Research manages the ESRDC.

CAPS got its start with a $200,000 grant from ONR in 2000 under the leadership of the Chief of Naval Research (CNR) at the time, Vice Adm. Paul Gaffney, who was developing the electric ship research needs and identifying roadblocks and challenges, Dale said.  “This resulted in the blue print for what is CAPS today.”

In July of 2000, after Vice Adm. Jay Cohen took over as CNR, the Office of Naval Research awarded Florida State University $10.9 million over three years to begin research and development of the electric drive and integrated power system that will propel the next generation navy ships in the 21st century.


Captain Edward Lundquist, U.S. Navy (Ret.), is a principal science writer for MCR Federal LLC.

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