GRAPES: GRid-connected Advanced Power Electronic Systems

About Grapes
GRAPES Mission
The mission of this center is to accelerate the adoption and insertion of power electronics into the electric grid in order to improve system stability, flexibility, robustness, and economy. We expect to accomplish that mission by focusing on the following main objectives  
  • To develop new technologies for advanced power electronic systems in the areas supporting grid connected distributed energy resources, power steering and routing devices, and intelligent load-side devices,
  • To develop the software and tools for controlling embedded- and grid-connected power electronics to benefit the grid as well as controlled loads,
  • To educate engineers who understand the power electronic technologies important to the member companies.

Areas of Technical Expertise
Approximately ten participating faculty members, from two institutions, with deep and wide-ranging expertise covering the entire range from electronic devices and packaging to equipment to field applications.

Power electronics Power converters
Power systems Power quality
Device packaging Control systems
Widebandgap semiconductor devices Renewable energy systems
Energy storage Power sources

The electric power industry is ultra-critical to the economy and security of the United States. Without electric power, everything stops - literally everything - with severe economic consequences. The demand for electrical energy is increasing and political and environmental pressures are forcing adoption of new distributed generation resources, such as wind, solar, and tidal, that do not fit well into the traditional architecture of the electric power grid. Robustness of the national power infrastructure is threatened by aging equipment, lack of integration between generation, transmission, distribution, and utilization, and by terrorism.

Paradoxically, one of the direst near-term threats is imposed by increases in local, environmentally-green generation technologies that can undermine the traditional safety mechanisms. This threat occurs partly because the mathematical and physical structure of the power grid is evolving from a paradigm of "a few controls on systems governed by the laws of physics" to "many independent controls on systems being governed by independent digital controls".

Our ability to predict the behavior of the system, and thus to control it, will rapidly erode without greater standardization of the control mechanisms embedded in power electronics. We currently have a narrow window of opportunity to re-define the power grid to improve its robustness. This is a focus of our research and is precisely where university research and industrial partnering will pay huge dividends.

Research will concentrate on design, development, evaluation, control, and standardization of grid-connected power electronic equipment on both the supply and load side of power systems.. Relevant research areas include:

  • Power systems, especially off-grid systems such as in transportation systems (ships, planes, trains, automobiles)
  • Power electronics devices, characterization, modeling
  • Simulation methods and environments for multidisciplinary dynamic systems

GRAPES currently has more than 20 members representing utility companies, system and logistics integrators, equipment manufacturers, and component suppliers. The vertically integrated membership represents the infrastructure and technologies necessary for the definition, design, assembly, evaluation, deployment and effective utilization of grid-connected power electronics.

GRAPES research leaders are all tenured faculty in the Energy and Control Systems group.  These faculty are able to draw on the larger facaulty community in other technical areas such as Communication and Photovoltaics as called for on particular projects. The GRAPES faculty are:

Dr. Roger Dougal
Thomas Gergory Professorship

Dr. Charles Brice
Associate Professor
Dr. Herbert Ginn
Associate Professor

Dr. Enrico Santi
Associate Professor
Dr. Yong-June Shin
Adjunct Professor
Dr. Grigory Simin

Center Headquarters
Center Headquarters
GRid-connected Advanced Power Electronic Systems (GRAPES)
University of Arkansas
BEC 3217, Department of Electrical Engineering
Fayetteville, AR 72701
Tel (479)575-4487 * Fax (479)575-6989
Managing Director
Trent A. Walton - University of Arkansas
Center Evaluator
Don Davis Old Dominion University
(757) 683-4439 *

University of Arkansas Center

H. Alan Mantooth

University of South Carolina Center

Roger Dougal
Columbia, SC 29208 803-777-7000
© University of South Carolina Board of Trustees