Texas Tech University

Two Texas Tech Researchers Win National Awards for New Technologies


Two Texas Tech researchers have earned national attention for their innovations. Beibei Ren and Shelby Lacouture both received 2017 TechConnect Innovation Awards for their work. The national award honors the top early-stage innovations from around the world through a review process with rankings based on the potential positive impact the submitted technology will have on a specific sector of industry.

Beibei Ren, an assistant professor in Texas Tech's Department of Mechanical Engineering, received the award for her work to develop a new technology that should provide a more stable and reliable way to integrate wind turbines, solar arrays and energy storage systems onto the nation's electric grid. More on Ren's work can be found at Texas Tech Today.

Integrating distributed energy from large-scale wind and solar farms onto the nation's power grid is placing a huge strain on the currently used power inverters, which are the pieces of equipment that handle the energy transfer now. The current equipment cannot always handle the large amount of energy that needs to be delivered onto the grid.

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Beibei Ren

Ren's new technology, known as Uncertainty and Disturbance Estimator (UDE)-based Robust Droop Control for Parallel Operated Inverters, will allow the huge amount of energy produced by the wind farms and solar arrays to be easily connected to the grid and should also improve power reliability. She has a patent pending on the technology.

Shelby Lacouture, senior research associate in the Center for Pulsed Power and Power Electronics in Texas Tech's Department of Electrical and Computing Engineering, received the award for his work in measuring the flow of an electric current. More on his work can be found at Texas Tech Today.

Currently, measuring the magnitude of the flow of an electric current requires the current connection be broken to insert an ammeter. It is a process that can be time consuming.

Shelby Lacouture

Lacouture's new technology would allow for the construction of an image of an electric current similar to how thermal imaging works. His work should mean assessing current flow will be more time and cost efficient. The technology has result in broad applications across numerous areas including examining the current flow in circuit boards, wiring or large semiconductor devices, mean faster repairs.

His technology has been licensed to Energetrix Engineering, LLC, a startup company formed by Lacouture and Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering colleagues Stephen Bayne, a professor and associate chair for graduate studies, and Argenis Bilbao, a research assistant professor.