Monday, November 26, 2012

EPIC Works to Rebuild America's Infrastructure Smarter

With the country's debt crisis on everyone's minds, it's sometimes hard to remember that there are many people across our nation without jobs. Dr. Johan Enslin wants to change this, using research that is currently being worked on at UNC Charlotte's new Energy Production and Infrastructure Center, or EPIC.

"The best way to work more jobs and get this country out of debt is through building a better infrastructure, one that is smarter and more efficient," Dr. Enslin said, noting the central role energy plays in the nation's economy.

A Picture of the Brand New EPIC Building
EPIC is a multidisciplinary center that has five research clusters. These clusters work with industry leaders to help move research forward that will help strengthen the this country, according to Dr. Enslin. The five clusters are Power Systems Modernization; Large Energy Component Design and Manufacturing; Power Infrastructure and Environmental Development; Renewables and Energy Efficiency, and Energy Markets and Systems Engineering.

Due to how recently the EPIC building has opened, research in most of these clusters is just beginning, but that doesn't mean it's not already beginning to get exciting.

Among the groups that have hit the ground running, the Power Systems Modernization cluster is working closely with Duke Energy in order to use green energy, such as wind energy or solar energy, in the company's current power grids. Unlike the power plants that are currently in use, green energy sources are not consistent in their output and therefore have to use different power grids. The research team is currently working on more efficient power grids that can incorporate this green energy appropriately and efficiently.
A Basic Overview of What the Power Systems Modernization cluster is Working On
Though there is no manufacturing lab yet, the Large Energy Component Design and Manufacturing cluster is already working with Siemens to design smarter manufacturing processes. Working in metrology, the team is finding better ways to make precise measurements on the manufacturing line. The cluster is also looking for a way to provide resonance frequency to the work tools to give them a better tolerance to wear and tear and better accuracy on the manufacturing line.
Some Concept Art for the Manufacturing Lab to be Built
So, even though the teams of researchers have just entered their new building, they are eagerly jumping into big new projects. With a little time, it is clear that EPIC will soon be pouring out research and discoveries that will help us build a more efficient and secure country.  More reports to follow...


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