Date of Award

6-2017

Degree Name

MS in Electrical Engineering

Department

Electrical Engineering

Advisor

David Braun

Abstract

Current exercise machines create resistance to motion and dissipate energy as heat. Some companies create ways to harness this energy, but not cost-effectively. The Energy Harvesting from Exercise Machines (EHFEM) project reduces the cost of harnessing the renewable energy. The system architecture includes the elliptical exercise machines outputting power to DC-DC converters, which then connects to the microinverters. All microinverter outputs tie together and then connect to the grid. The control system, placed around the DC-DC converters, quickly detects changes in current, and limits the current to prevent the DC-DC converters and microinverters from entering failure states.

An artificial neural network learns to mitigate incohesive microinverter and DC-DC converter actions. The DC-DC converter outputs 36 V DC operating within its specifications, but the microinverter drops input resistance looking for the sharp decrease in power that a solar panel exhibits. Since the DC-DC converter behaves according to Ohm’s Law, the inverter sees no decrease in power until the voltage drops below the microinverter’s minimum input voltage. Once the microinverter turns off, the converter regulates as intended and turns the microinverter back on only to repeat this detrimental cycle. Training the neural network with the back propagation algorithm outputs a value corresponding to the feedback voltage, which increases or decreases the voltage applied from the resistive feedback in the DC-DC converter.

In order for the system to react well to changes on the order of tens of microseconds, it must read ADC values and compute the output neuron value quicker than previous control attempts. Measured voltages and currents entering and leaving the DC-DC converter constitute the neural network’s input neurons. Current and voltage sensing circuit designs include low-pass filtering to reduce software noise filtering in the interest of speed. The complete solution slightly reduces the efficiency of the system under a constant load due to additional component power dissipation, while actually increasing it under the expected varying loads.

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