Skip to main content
Latest News:
Jin Lee

Electrical & Computer Engineering professor seeks solutions to energy challengesJanuary 23, 2020

As demand grows to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, Mehdi Narimani is finding ways to maximize the power of our renewable energy sources.

In the face of the world’s struggle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions comes the reality that global energy demands are expected to double over the next 20 years. The result is an urgent need for technologies that enhance the power we get from renewable energy sources.

It’s a challenge that Electrical & Computer Engineering professor Mehdi Narimani is tackling, as he researches ways to improve high-power conversion systems.

While recent decades have seen a dramatic increase in our use of solar and wind power, advances in power converters promise a way to maximize the amount of that power that becomes usable electricity reaching the distribution system.

And when dealing with large-scale wind or solar farms, even small improvements in efficiency can have a very significant impact, says Narimani.

“We’re dealing with a lot of energy, so even a one per cent improvement is big.”

Currently, the maximum power of a wind turbine is constrained by the limitations in the power conversion system.

“There are some solutions right now but they are limited,” says Narimani. “To go to the next stage, we need to develop the next generation of power converters that will make the system more efficient and reliable, while at the same time reducing costs.”

As an expert in power electronics – the application of semiconductor devices for control and conversion of one form of electrical energy to another – Narimani can find demand for his skills across a wide of range of areas.

He’s working on a major research project, in partnership with Rockwell Automation, to develop an efficient and reliable medium voltage high-power converter for use in heavy industry.

He’s also researching ways to overcome some of the challenges related to recharging batteries in electric and autonomous vehicles, through the development of high-power wireless and ultrafast chargers.

Imagine, he suggests, the possibility of a driver or autonomous vehicle pulling into a drive-through charging station that could wirelessly recharge an electric battery in less than 20 minutes. That type of breakthrough would revolutionize the world of electric vehicles.

Narimani says he sees ultra-fast charging and wireless charging for both high-power and consumer applications to be the next generation of his research. He is currently working toward a prototype design to attract investment from industrial partners.

 “Wireless fast charging is something that’s very exciting to me.”