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Dr. Douglas C Hopkins, Ph.D.

Director - Electronic Power and Energy Research Laboratory

Dr. Hopkins has over 20 years of academic and industrial experience in power electronics and energy systems. He began his career at the R&D centers of the General Electric and Carrier Air-Conditioning companies in electronic power conversion and developed advanced systems up to the low MW range for military and commercial applications. He earned his Ph.D. at Virginia Tech in the Virginia Power Electronics Center (now CPES). He now resides at the University at Buffalo where he holds the positions of Research Professor in Electrical Engineering, Fellow of the Energy Systems Institute, and is founder and Director of the Electronic Power and Energy Research Laboratory. He is also president of DensePower, LLC, a pre-launch company funded through several DoD SBIR grants in the area of advanced solid-state power protection. He is a Fellow and Senior Member of several technical societies and has over 90 publications.

Solid-State Protection: Dual-Use for Microgrids

Microgrids are evolving to rapidly facilitate integration of small-scale renewable sources into local distribution systems. These systems inherently contain power electronics that provide sub-cycle response times, faster failure under fault. This burdens the grid protection with unprecedented requirements for sub-millisecond response times. Also, protection systems must re-configure for grid-connected and autonomous (islanded) operation. Presented is a review and discussion of the use of solid-state power controllers (SSPCs) as dual use in military and utility protection as current-limiting solid-state breakers. Similar to resettable current-limiting fuses, they operate sub-cycle and provide much lower fault current magnitudes in the grid. The use of Silicon Carbide (SiC) semiconductors allows for very high thermal transients in the SSPCs with sub-microsecond fault clearing times.