Spring 2023 General Meeting

Hosted by: UNC Charlotte


March 27th-28th, 2023


The Center for Advanced Power Engineering and Research (CAPER) is a collaboration among three universities and industry members focusing on research and educational needs in the electric power industry in the southeast region of the US. CAPER holds two General Meetings each year, spring and fall, each hosted by a member University. In attendance are CAPER researchers and students along with industry and government representatives to present current industry topics, update sponsored projects and take part in discussions about the Center’s research and education activities.


We wish to thank Dr. Mike Mazzola, CAPER Center Director at UNC Charlotte, for hosting this in-person meeting. Special thanks go to Shannon Jenkins for all the many arrangements that were required for this meeting. We also wish to thank our Industry Members, Faculty and Students for participating in the General Meeting, Reception and Job Fair.


Location – The meeting took place at the UNC Charlotte Marriott Hotel & Conference Center


Attendees – Faculty – 15, Industry -23, Students – 29


Monday March 27th, 2023


1:00 pm – General Meeting: “Engineering A Regional Hydrogen Hub”


Steve Whisenant, Chair of CAPER Steering Committee opened the meeting with a warming welcome to those in attendance. Steve presented a background on CAPER, objectives for the day and sharing of In the News.


Plenary Session – What is a Regional Hydrogen Hub and Why do we need one? led by Dr. Michael Mazzola, CAPER Center Director and EPIC Director at UNC Charlotte.


Daniele Peoples, Duke Energy, opened the session by explaining the U.S. Department of Energy’s investment of $7 B into the development of 6 – 10 regional hydrogen hubs. Battelle, operator of the DOE National Labs, is facilitating a proposal for the southeast that includes Duke Energy, Dominion Energy, Southern Company, TVA, Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities in its bid to develop a southeast regional hydrogen hub. Regional attributes for a successful proposal include transportation access of highways and ports, ability to match production with off-takers, community benefits, state level advisory groups to drive activities, favorable economics, adoption of new technologies and significant focus on public safety. The DOE announcement of awards is expected later in April 2023.

Next Mike Mazzola, UNC Charlotte, shared his thoughts on the gaps in technology and conflicts in operations of the grid with high penetrations of renewables that has occurred and is still developing in the energy transition. Mike explained interconnection issues and challenges in “ride-through” of inverter-based resources. He went on to explain the infamous “duck-curve and how one carbon-free resource, solar, is displacing an existing one, nuclear. “This is a very important policy and technical issue that must be addressed now“, Mike stated.


Session I – Hydrogen Production Technologies in the Southeast led by Dr. Michael Mazzola, CAPER Center Director and EPIC Director at UNC Charlotte.


Jorge Lopez, Siemens Energy, opened the session with an explanation of the many advantages of hydrogen including its mobility, serves as a green power source, and finds applications in other industries such as transportation, petrochemical and chemical. Currently there are three main technologies used in hydrogen production: High Temperature, Alkaline and Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM). PEM offers the advantages of fast start-up, high purity of 99.9% and smaller footprint. In 2011 the largest size was 0.1 MW and in 2025 we anticipate at 1000 MW system. Presently 60% of the cost of hydrogen production is energy costs while capital costs are running at 30%.


Next Hossein Ghezel-Ayagh, FuelCell Energy, introduced his company that has been manufacturing high temperature steam electrolysis systems since 1969. The stated purpose is to “Enable a world empowered by clean energy”. Currently a single cell can produce about 40 MW/yr. They are planning a 250-kW steam electrolysis system capable of producing 150 kg H2/day. Next on the drawing board is a1.1 MW system capable of producing 600 kg H2/day.


Lastly for this session, Caleb Tomlin, EPRI, discussed H2 considerations for nuclear integration. EPRI’s mission in this area is to “Enable existing and future nuclear plants to participate in energy markets beyond the practice of generating baseload electricity”. Mr. Tomlin stated that H2 is the molecule of the future. While gasoline has an energy density of 12.7 kwh/kg; H2 contains 33.3 kwh/kg. Nuclear and H2 interaction consists of Business, Technical and Licensing considerations and challenges that must be addressed upfront.


Session IIBuilding a Regional Hydrogen Infrastructure led by Dr. Badrul Chowdhury, CAPER Center Co-Director at UNC Charlotte.


Jason Wager, Centralina Clean Fuels Coalition, opened the session by explaining a framework to facilitate clean cities’ s activities. Benefits include energy security and no emissions. H2 provides transportation with added benefits of H2 fuel cells in EV’s and fuel cell upfits for range extension in existing . Mr. Wager stressed the importance of defining and developing H2 use cases, but not to develop a solution in search of a problem. It is important to develop and maintain partnerships with a mix of strategies and tactics. Remember to “.


Mark Johnson, Clemson on assignment to DOE, discussed the H2 Supply Chain in the southeast US. Simply stated, a Supply Chain is a collection of organizations for getting products to and from other organizations. A gap that currently exists in the southeast is the limited number of Off-takers. More H2 demand needs to be developed within the region. The state of South Carolina for example, offers much innovation and competitiveness through its logistic capabilities for transportation, its state-of-the-art two-year community colleges and the many strong public-private partnerships that exist.


Session III – CAPER Sponsored Sr. Design Projects led by Steven Whisenant, CAPER Steering Committee Chair


A Team from each of our three CAPER Universities presented their progress on this year’s CAPER sponsored senior design projects.


Reception – Crown V Room

Job Fair – Crown V Room


Day Two:


The meeting started at 8:00 am with highlights of day one and objectives for the day by CAPER Steering Committee Chair, Steve Whisenant.


Session IV – Engineering a Hydrogen Ecosystem led by Dr. Johan Enslin, CAPER Center Co-Director at Clemson.


Clift Pompee, Duke Energy, opened the session with a discussion of H2 as a carbon replacement fuel. Today’s carbon replacement fuels consist of RNG, Biomass, Biodiesel and Ethanol. Emerging fuels are clean H2, clean Ammonia, clean Methanol and RNG. H2 provides two pathways for electric utilities – H2 as a fuel for Combined Cycle and combustion turbines and H2 as storage when excess renewables are available. Fuel strategies today are not the fuel strategies for the future.


Maria Simpson, FDI Energy, shared the work her company is doing to build a clean and sustainable energy future. FDI Energy is building and deploying cutting edge solutions. Products include high power density fuel cells and integrated fuel cell power plants. H2 disadvantages today include, high costs, complexity, too many components, low power densities, heavy and lack of H2 refueling infrastructure. FDI’s edge is in increasing performance, streamlining design, manufacturing and higher power densities. You can maximize the benefits of a H2 ecosystem if H2 production and consumption is onboard, onsite and on demand.


Carolyn Keith, EPIC, stated that North Carolina is leading the change to a clean energy future. Workforce development through the Steps 4Growth Program is laying the foundation for the future workforce to support and sustain the energy transition. Vin Fast and Toyota are investing $7.8 B in EV and lithium-ion plants. Lithium-ion mining is opening in Cleveland County. Steps 4Growth, the largest US grant, $24M and led by NC A&T University, is focused on creating the next generation of clean energy talent for North Carolina.


Will James, Battelle, began by saying that Battelle was started in 1925 to translate scientific discovery and technology advances to societal benefit. The IIJA investment of $8B will bring economic benefits, infrastructure, clean energy, and innovation to the selected regional H2 Hubs. These Hubs will need to produce 50 – 100 metric tons of H2 /day. The southeast is attractive because of a network of H2 producers and users. Safety is extremely important and is being addressed through numerous codes and standards. Safety gaps being addressed today exists in refueling stations, H3 storage in vehicles, liquefying H2 and in the production of H2 by water electrolysis. Mr. James closed with the following quote:

“Coming Together is a beginning, Staying Together is progress and Working Together is Success”

-Henry Ford


Peter Hoeflich, Duke Energy, shard with the audience how H2 is to be used at gas turbine plants. Benefits of H2 are multiple methods of production and it is combustible with no CO2 emissions. In a comparison to natural gas, weight of H2 is 1/8, and btu/lb is 51,000 to 21,000. However, challenges do exist such as having to minimize leaks since H2 is a much smaller molecule. Burners must be designed to avoid flashbacks. Since H2 flames are invisible,

flame scanners and flame detection are very important. Current state of H2 use in gas turbines is that diffusion burners can use 100% H2 but NOx emissions can be a concern. Currently, gas turbines are started and shut down using natural gas only. In the future, gas turbines fueled by H2 must be flexible with high ramp rates and withstand cycling with high efficiencies.


Uwe Kuhnapfel, KIT, shared the research under way at KIT, the national research institute in Germany. The energy transition in Germany is seen as an integration of H2 fuel and battery storage.  Germany is looking to replace 8 GW of nuclear and coal generation by 2035. Storage is essential in achieving zero carbon energy transition. Combustion of H2 and storage technologies of battery and pumped-hydro are the keys to the future.


Session V CAPER Project Updates led by Dr. Michael Mazzola, CAPER Center Director and EPIC Director at UNC Charlotte.


Base Projects:

PG-03 AI Based Arc Fault Detection for PV Systems UNCC/Clemson, Dr. Tiefu Zhao
PG-02 Incorporating EV and EV Charging Stations into Integrated Resource Planning UNCC/Clemson, Dr. Linquan Bai
PU-01 Comparative Power Flow Analysis and Power Flow Quality Criteria; EHP-08-PU: Comparative Power Flow and Phase III UNCC/NCSU, Dr. Valentina Cecchi
DM-03 Integrated Grid Operations System for Controlling and Monitoring IBR Clemson/NCSU, Dr. Johan Enslin
PD-05 Inertia Estimate Using Synchrophasor Measurements Clemson/UNCC, Dr. Ramtin Hadidi

Enhancement Projects:

EHP-09-PG DER Protection Guidelines and Settings Clemson/NCSU/UNCC, Dr. Johan Enslin


CLOSED MEETING– IAB Members Meeting – Open to all attendees of companies that are Industry Members of CAPER.


The IAB met to review pitches of four proposals submitted for CAPER consideration. Each proposal was discussed but the IAB was not able to reach a final recommendation. The IAB will meet again soon to continue the proposal review. IAB members discussed various aspect of this meeting and will present a list of recommendations to the CAPER Steering Committee.

No further action so the meeting was adjourned.


Presentations and Project Updates can be found by visiting www.caper-usa.com on the Members Only section of the website.