The National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission (NCREPT) is located at the Arkansas Research and Technology Park. NCREPT was formed in 2005 as a result of the 2003 Northeast Blackout and began investigating advanced power electronic solutions for the grid and transportation applications. As part of the University of Arkansas, this facility has the capability to test power electronic circuits at operating levels up to 13.8 kV and 6 MVA. This 12,000 ft2 laboratory provides the equipment, technical staff, and instrumentation to test and evaluate power electronic circuits and systems at realistic transmission and distribution voltage levels.
This facility is also available for use by faculty, national laboratories and industry partners. In 2016, the University of Arkansas, along with Arkansas Power Electronics Inc. (APEI), Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and GaN Systems, won an R&D 100 award for the development of an 88 kW SiC-based vehicular traction inverter capable of continuous operation in a 140 °C ambient temperature. The NCREPT laboratory was responsible for the design, fabrication, and operation of a 100 kW dynamometer and thermal environment for testing and the characterization of this inverter. NCREPT also implemented virtual vehicle models and driving schedules in a real-time environment to ensure realistic test sequences.
The table below represents some of the key testing parameters and capabilities of the NCREPT facility:
NCREPT Cyber Testbed
Laboratory equipment and interconnections with the devices encountered in electric utility applications have been integrated with instrumentation and power system hardware to create a testbed for developing real-time computer networked technologies. The NCREPT Cyber Testbed can be remotely accessed by authorized researchers using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), Remote Desktop Protocols (RDPs), and Secure Shell (SSH) tunneling protocols.
The testbed consists of multiple Real-Time Automation Controllers (RTACs), Protection Relays (PRs), and various Real-Time HIL/cHIL simulation and hypervisor resources. The facility’s network is segmented into 4 isolated subnets which allows users to have access to certain segments but not others. This segmentation also allows users to perform various testing and emulate Wide Area Networks (WANs) without triggering the enterprise level security implemented on the primary networks. Additionally, remote users may access emulated and real-world power flow data generated and collected at the facility using various gateway devices which allow for the collection of these measurements. The NCREPT facility has integrated remote monitoring, protection, and control capabilities as well as a state of the art Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) interface system.
The testbed SCADA network has capability for the most commonly used substation communication protocols. These include the distributed network protocol DNP3 and IEC41850. These can be interfaced to physical devices such as protective relays and circuit breakers, or can be interfaced to virtual elements through the HIL/cHIL systems incorporating Opal-RT, Typhoon and ETAP simulators.
Arkansas Circuit Design Center (ACDC)
The Arkansas Circuit Design Center (ACDC) ACDC was created in 2010 to formalize collaborative research efforts between the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science/Computer Engineering departments at the University of Arkansas. Graduate students are located in the modern, LEED-certified Cato Springs Research Center (CSRC) shown in the figure below. This facility houses two shared instrumentation laboratories, computer servers, a 40-seat multimedia classroom, conference rooms and 20,000 sq. ft. of office space for use by ACDC faculty, staff, and students. This center has dedicated office and laboratory facilities, as well as access to additional facilities through its member departments and closely co-located partner facilities including the High Density Electronics Center (HiDEC) and the National Center for Reliable Power Transmission (NCREPT).
The ACDC has instrumentation for designing and benchtop testing of analog, digital and power electronic circuits and the characterization of semiconductor devices. Benchtop test and measurement equipment includes a Keithley 2602 Dual-Channel Source Meter, Tektronix MSO 1GHz and MDO 3GHz Oscilloscopes, Moving Pixel PG3A Pattern Generator, Tektronix TLA5204B Logic Analyzer and various high-precision analog sources and meters.