McKearn Fellowship Program Summer 2015

Beginning the Journey Together

Hello 2015 McKearn Summer Fellows Cohorts,

My name Jayson Shiau, and I am going to be a sophomore majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering and minoring in Computer Science at NIU. This summer, I plan on doing research with my faculty mentor Dr. Donald Zinger on a new energy storage system that has recently been developed by Isentropic Ltd., a private engineering company based in the UK. This system is known as a pumped-heat electricity storage system (PHES) and is designed to store electricity as thermal energy, or heat with the use of a fluid (Argon gas) and storage medium (gravel). Basic components of this system include a hot and cold store to regulate the transfer and build up of heat as electricity is used to power this system and a compressor and expander to heat up and cool down the gas as it flows through the system. My main goal this summer is to create mathematical models that describe what is going on in this system and write a program to simulate it using the MATLAB and Simulink software. Further continuation of this project will include an in-depth analysis of our simulation results to compare its efficiency readings and cost-effectiveness with other types of energy storage systems.

This first week of research has been pretty slow for me due to the learning gap I need to overcome in order to undertake this project. Topics I need to familiarize myself before moving forward include Thermodynamics, how to use MATLAB and Simulink to create a simulation, and how to create mathematical models that describe the system. The learning gap is also a big concern I have going into this project because I am worried about not having enough time to have a finished product at the end. Thankfully, Dr. Zinger has been working with me to come up with solutions to some of the problems that we need to conquer. We also intend on bringing in another faculty member, Dr. Kevin Martin from the Technology Department to assist with the thermodynamics component of the project. If time gets to be a problem, another software alternative we plan on turning to is COMSOL Multiphysics which is a physics modeling simulator that creates and simulates systems for real-world applications. I feel a little better knowing that I have two professors to turn to for help in different aspects of this project. On another note, I am definitely looking forward to learning a lot from this project and acquiring new skills in MATLAB, Simulink, and COMSOL as well as new knowledge in thermodynamics. I’m also looking forward to spending time with everyone this summer through our time living together and our exciting excursions.

Lastly, I would just like to encourage everyone to work hard on your various projects and make the most of the time we spend together. This is probably a once in a lifetime chance that we get to spend living with each other doing the things we love so we can hope to cherish it as a wonderful memory for the future.

Look forward to working alongside everyone!

Jayson Shiau


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