The mission of the Center for GRid-connected Advanced Power Electronics Systems (GRAPES) 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 plan to accomplish our mission by focusing on the following main objectives:
- Developing new technologies for advanced power electronic systems, including grid-connected distributed-energy resources, power-steering and routing devices, and intelligent load-side devices.
- Developing the software and tools for controlling embedded and grid-connected power electronics to benefit the grid as well as to control loads.
- Educating engineers to understand and utilize the power electronic technologies that will benefit our member companies and the stability of the power grid as a whole.
The electric power industry is critical to the economy and security of the United States. 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 and safety mechanisms of the electric power grid. Robustness of the national power infrastructure is threatened by aging equipment; by lack of integration between generation, transmission, distribution, and utilization; and by potential attacks.
Power electronics technology is key to enabling a “smart” power grid. Power electronics-based controllers enhance the controllability, flexibility, efficiency, stability, robustness, resiliency, safety, and economy of the power grid. These devices also provide innovative, economical methods to integrate renewable energy resources into the grid.
About the Center
GRAPES was founded in 2009 under the auspices of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) program. GRAPES is a collaboration among faculty, staff, and students at the University of Arkansas, the University of South Carolina, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; and our industrial and government members.
The NSF I/UCRC program provides funding for administration of the center, but industry members’ annual membership fees pay for the bulk of the center’s research in a pre-competitive, shared-intellectual-property arrangement.
Our Industrial Advisory Board plays an active role in the selection, direction, and review of our research projects. Our research focus areas are chosen by our Industrial Advisory Board from proposals submitted by our faculty members at UA, USC, and UWM. These project areas aim to integrate technological advances with projected industrial needs.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or are interested in joining our growing efforts in advancing power electronics technology.
GRAPES leadership is at the forefront of power electronics research and methodology, with over 250 total published papers, articles, and books in the Electrical Engineering field.
Our leaders bring both academic acumen and industry experience to bear on guiding GRAPES research, and on keeping GRAPES members, faculty, and students aware of current concerns, industry needs, and developments in power grid technology.
Ph.D., P.E., FIEEE
Principal Investigator & Executive Director, UA
Alan Mantooth is the Center’s Executive Director. He has 20 years of academic experience in addition to eight years in industry. He has served in several leadership positions in both industry and academe, and currently serves as Executive Director for the Center for GRid-connected Advanced Power Electronic Systems (GRAPES) and the Cybersecurity Center for Secure Evolvable Energy Delivery Systems (SEEDS) as well as Deputy Director for the NSF Engineering Research Center for Power Optimization in Electro-Thermal Systems (POETS).
After returning to academe he has built a research group of 25 students, on average, with research expenditures of over $3M a year. Since its inception in 2005, he has served as the National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission’s (NCREPT) Executive Director and overseen its research and building program.
Dr. Mantooth has published well over 300 refereed publications in modeling and electronic design, as well as three books. He is an IEEE Fellow, has served on the IEEE PELS Advisory Committee since 2004 and is currently serving as PELS Past President until 2021.
Shannon G. Davis
Managing Director, UA
Shannon G. Davis is the Managing Director for the Center for GRid-connected Advanced Power Electronic Systems and the Cybersecurity Center for Secure Evolvable Energy Delivery Systems (SEEDS). She received her Ph.D. in 1998 from the University of Kansas in the Division of Government. She focused her studies on political psychology, and political decision making in the world of government. She has put this to practice in the form of proposal writing, contract negotiations and project management of government and nonprofit organization funding for the past 36 years.
She has served the College of Engineering by managing the research infrastructure, collaborating to develop proposals, addresses project management issues, and negotiate contracts with various types of sponsors. Since she began her career at the University of Arkansas in 1997, she has written, co-written and participated on proposal teams resulted in over $35 million in funding.
Ph.D., University of Natal (Durban, South Africa), 1986; IEEE M’78 SM’94
UA Site Director, UA
Professor Balda received his B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the Universidad Nacional del Sur (Bahía Blanca, Argentina) in 1979. He then worked for two and one-half years at Hidronor S.A., an electric utility in the Southwestern part of Argentina.
He received his Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Natal (Durban, South Africa) in 1986. He was then employed as a researcher and a part-time lecturer at the University of Natal until July 1987. He then spent two years as a visiting Assistant Professor at Clemson University, South Carolina.
He has been at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville since July 1989, where he is currently a University Professor and Department Head. His main research interests are Power Electronics, Electric Power Distribution Systems, Motor Drives and Electric Power Quality. He is a senior member of the IEEE, member of the Power Electronics and Industry Applications Societies, and the honor society Eta Kappa Nu. He is a faculty advisor to the IEEE Power Electronics Society branch.
Ph.D., Texas Tech University, 1983
Co-Director and USC Site Director, USC
Professor Dougal leads the Power and Energy Systems research group at USC, where research principally focuses on power electronics but also encompasses a wide range of associated technologies across a number of engineering departments. Dr. Dougal is a member of the Board of Directors of the Electric Ship Research and Development Consortium (ESRDC), and in that capacity he oversees USC’s activities related to new power generation, processing, and distribution technologies for ships, and coordination of those activities with other member schools.
Dr. Dougal is also Site Director of the NSF-sponsored Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Grid-connected Advanced Power Electronic Systems (GRAPES). This joint project between USC and the University of Arkansas seeks to insert greater levels of advanced power electronics into the utility power grid to better realize a Smart Grid.
Since 1996, under sponsorship of the Office of Naval Research, Dr. Dougal has overseen development of the Virtual Test Bed software, which is a comprehensive simulation and virtual prototyping environment for multidisciplinary dynamic systems. This environment is applied in studies of electric systems for navy ships, electrochemical power sources, hybrid power sources, power electronics, and controls.
Dr. Dougal currently supervises about a dozen graduate students, several post-doctoral scholars and research faculty, and a number of undergraduate researchers.
Collaborative Researcher, UWM
Prof. Nasiri’s work in engineering education and research hopes to enhance the educational experience so more students choose and graduate with engineering degrees. He seeks to improve the content of the educational and research experience to better match the needs of employers and the world.
Dr. Nasiri’s research seeks to advance the fields of sustainable energy sources, grid integration of distributed generations, microgrids, energy efficiency, and energy security. He is also working to use various types of energy storage devices to support variable energy sources and loads.
Dr. Nasiri’s research focus is on renewable energy systems, distributed generations, microgrids, grid interface, energy security, energy storage modeling, interface and controls, vehicle-to-grid, power electronics, and electric drives.
Dr. Nasiri earned his B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, Iran, and his Ph. D. in Electrical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago.
Honors and awards include the Excellence in Engineering Faculty Fellow in Power Electronics, 2010 Milwaukee Young Engineer of the Year, the National Science Foundation GOALI Award, and the Graduate School/UWM Foundation Research Award.