Virtual Electric Power Labs using MATLAB/Simulink/Simscape

Douglas Jussaume, Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Tulsa

The COVID pandemic initiated the development of virtual power labs for EE 3033 Electric Power Systems at the University of Tulsa. The course, EE 3033, introduces the Junior level Electrical and Computer Engineering students to three-phase systems, transformers, motors, and generators. EE 3033 has a lab component involving four labs covering a, lab introduction, three-phase transmission line and load, a single-phase transformer, and a synchronous generator. The students gain the experience of wiring the systems, recording data, calculating performance parameters, and developing equivalent circuits. The objective is providing the student with a theoretical understanding of these electric machines and experience in their actual performance.

The lab area is confined to a single bench area and with the COVID restrictions, impractical to continue the hardware lab for this Fall semester. This led to the development of four virtual power labs. The virtual labs are:

  • Three-phase power systems – source, transmission line, and complex load
  • Single-phase non-ideal transformer – complex load and perform open and short circuit tests
  • DC Shunt Motor – measure performance over range of mechanical loads
  • AC Synchronous Generator – complex loads, perform open and short circuit tests

An important design parameter in developing these labs was to mimic the hardware labs where the student would set-up the parameters and measure various results. This was accomplished by allowing the student to input set-up parameters using a Simulink dashboard slider or knob. After simulation, results are displayed for the student to record. After completing the lab session, the student is required to write a professional lab report detailing the lab, data, calculation of any performance parameters and developing equivalent circuits.

The virtual labs proposed effectiveness will come from the insight the student gains in running the simulation multiple times for various set-up and then verifying the lab's performance through hand calculations. It is my strong belief that the student gains greater insight through simulating the model many times, and comparing results to hand calculations than a single hardware lab

For me, this is my first experience in developing models and simulations and my first experience with MATLAB / Simulink / Simscape. I wish I had this opportunity earlier in my career.

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