From an Autonomous Supply Tower to Connected Smart Services

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"The size and quality of NI products ensure the sustainability of our scalable solutions, while complying with the requirements of our market targets, certifications, and EU standards."

- Julien TURKALJ, IDSUD Énergies

The Challenge:
Developing an all-in-one electronic management interface to manage a hybrid power generation unit dedicated to nheosolutions, transmit and receive various data sources for smart city services development, and coordinate all the nheosolutions options and features from a single interface.

The Solution:
Using the LabVIEW Real-Time Module, the LabVIEW FPGA Module, and the System On Module (SOM) interfaced with a power adapter card to create a reliable, communicating, and optimized controller.

Author(s):
Julien TURKALJ - IDSUD Énergies

IDSUD Énergies designs, manufactures, markets, and sets up nheolis products—innovative patented wind turbines that power ranges from 1.5 kW to 3.5 kW. Our wind turbines rely on Bernoulli’s principle and on a specific 3D design. In the world of small wind turbines, they are recognized as a disruptive technology. Their operating range is superior to that of traditional wind turbines at a given power level, which makes them particularly fitted to disturbed environments. Moreover, their 360° rotation capability means they can catch the wind in any direction. We can increase the electric power generation by adding photovoltaic(PV) panels to these systems. We can tailor their size to the client’s specific energy needs.

Constraints Related to a Hybrid Electric Power Generation

IDSUD Énergies products feature two different operating modes:

  • On-grid mode—The electricity generated by the wind turbine and solar panels is directly injected into the national grid.
  • Off-grid mode—The electricity generated by the system recharges buffer batteries, which supplies electric power to the customers.

The modularity of IDSUD Énergies products raises the question of how to capture all the energy produced by one or several generators and either inject it into the national grid—in accordance with all applicables standards—or use it to recharge batteries. The system needs not only to communicate and send production or sensor data, but it must also receive commands from the customers.

Two Cards…

Since no controller on the market could provide such modularity and such communication capabilities, we decided to develop our own. Our company has employees with extended experience with LabVIEW software, the LabVIEW Real-Time Module, and the LabVIEW FPGA Module. We decided to interface these modules with a System on Module (SOM) from NI and a power adapter card. The SOM is a perfect match since it includes a microprocessor that handles all the intelligence and communication aspects and a Xilinx FPGA that runs all the electricity generation optimization algorithms in near real time, and which manages the battery charge and the power injection into the national grid.

…but a Single Interface

We developed the power adapter card. We also designed and made simulations using Multisim software and the LabVIEW Control Design and Simulation Module, which delivers a native and easy-to-use interface between LabVIEW Real-Time and Multisim. This adapter card connects to the SOM through an NI standardized connector. Our system uses two cards and a single interface to fully handle the energy capture process—conversion, optimization, and use—while communicating with the outside world.

Since IDSUD Énergies products are intended to be installed anywhere in the world, the embedded card needed to be able to operate in the widest temperature range.

The SOM turned out to be the best option, since its operating range goes from -40 °C to +85 °C.

Using LabVIEW and myRIO to Develop and Test the Real-Time System

With the LabVIEW graphical programming approach, we have been able to develop the real-time system in a very short period of time. Eight processes run in parallel and synchronously to process the data coming from several sensors and modems, and the commands saved on the card by the customer. This part of the system is tested on myRIO, which features the same real-time kernel as SOM. We have simulated data acquisition from sensors through the various myRIO analog and digital I/O.

We tested the FPGA by simulating some specific signals with a VirtualBench all-in-one instrument, which integrates a mixed-signal oscilloscope and a function generator. A testing program based on VirtualBench has been created in LabVIEW to analyze the FPGA program response and optimize the code.

A Prototype After Only Three Months

The rapid development with LabVIEW and NI test tools will help IDSUD Énergies provide unique services and stand out from the competition.

Author Information:
Julien TURKALJ
IDSUD Énergies
Technopôle de l’Environnement Arbois Méditerranée Avenue Louis Philibert - Pavillon Le Martel - 1er étage
13100 Aix-en-Provence
France
Tel: +33 (0) 4 42 25 98 40
julien.turkalj@nheolis.com

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