The Energy Systems Optimization Lab (ESOL) seeks to improve the design, performance, and characterization of energy generation and storage systems by applying advanced simulation and optimization techniques to applied systems.

Mechanical and thermal systems are designed to operate, and a number of factors can affect both performance during operation and the overall useful lifetime of a system. System behavior may respond to fluctuations in weather conditions, market demands, operational setpoints, maintenance history, or natural degradation of components. The ESOL leads and contributes to projects that:

  • Develop simulation tools to accurately predict system behaviors over a time horizon
  • Develop models that characterize instantaneous behaviors of complex optical and thermal systems
  • Research and apply optimization methodologies to improve system efficiency, lifetime, cost-effectiveness, and reliability
  • Utilize expected system operations to identify optimal technology design decisions
  • Facilitate smart control of multiple technologies that can jointly and complementarily meet a market need at reduced net cost
  • Validate control or model outcomes using lab-scale experimental systems

We focus on several technology applications, including concentrating solar power, grid-scale energy storage, “hybrid” systems with multiple generators or storage, and nuclear energy.

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Our research areas

Energy use scheduling

We research algorithms that optimally schedule production or utilization from dispatchable power generators or from energy storage while considering unique technology constraints and component lifetime.

Cumulative production from an optimized hybrid system

Concentrating solar power

CSP uses heat generated by focusing mirrors to produce electricity or provide high-temperatures for thermal processes. We research applications and long-term performance of CSP technologies.

Renewable technology simulation

The long-term cost-effectiveness of renewable technologies can best be assessed using time-series simulation tools. We develop and improve models and algorithms to predict technology performance over time.

Energy management testing

The ESOL partners with the WEMPEC to develop and experimentally validate model predictive control and energy management algorithms that test the simulation and optimization tools we develop using power hardware in the loop.

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