In the first joint event with the American research center, POETS, areas of mutual interest were already identified for research and development collaboration.

At least four areas for cooperation between POETS (Center for Power Optimization of Electrical-Thermal Systems) and RCGI – FAPESP-SHELL Research Center for Gas Innovation were identified during an NSF Workshop, organized by the two institutions for February 16 and 17, at the University of São Paulo Polytechnical School (Poli-USP). The event, which was coordinated by Poly Professor Emílio Silva, who is also a researcher for RCGI, was attended by a group of five professors from the member-universities of POETS (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Arkansas, Howard University, and Stanford University), as well as professors from Poly and RCGI researchers.

Andrew Alleyne, Director of POETS and a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, set the context for the work of the visiting group. He said that the number of electric vehicles in the USA has been growing, as has the number of power systems used in those vehicles and the power density of those systems.

“Electrification is a mega-trend in mobile systems. And the big challenge of electrification is power density, that is: how much power can be stored in a small space. That is the main issue being investigated by POETS, in a project involving four U.S. universities; one in Sweden, the Royal Institute of Technology; and Poly, in Brazil,” he said. Alleyne states that there is a lack of an energy management approach at the systems level, and that each knowledge area approaches the problem from their own perspective, thus avoiding dealing with the subject as a whole. Therefore, POETS, like RCGI, also has a multidisciplinary team.

The long-term objective of POETS is to increase the power density of the mobile electrical systems by ten to one hundred times  of the current state-of-the-art systems. The group of researchers argues that an increase of this level of power density would result in lighter and more efficient systems, with greater performance. It would also be possible to work with greater safety margins in the projects, without jeopardizing performance.

“Other fields of interest of the group are new ways to cool the systems, since the current electrical systems are thermally limited. And also hybrid systems, optimization of the use of sensors and of topological systems, e circuit design,” says Alleyne. POETS, which was set up with the support of the National Science Foundation, has partnerships with a number of companies and receives additional financing from industries that are interested in its research.

Partnership and Cooperation – According to Andrew Alleyne, maintaining collaborative associations with other countries around the world is one of POETS’ strategies, and that is one of the reasons for the group to come to Brazil. “We focused on the partnership with USP, because we decided to aim part of our interchange efforts at Latin America. We thought about Asia, but many people are forming partnerships with Asian institutions, so we asked ourselves: why not try something different, like Latin America? We looked at the different options and thought that Brazil was the best place, partly because of the size of the Brazilian market. The institution that seem to us to be the closest to our objectives was USP, with which we had already had contacts.” The objectives of the partnership are to have interchange between personnel (bilateral; professors and students), establish collaborative curricula and  research, and form joint partnerships via the government or industry.”

According to the Scientific Director of RCGI, Professor Júlio Meneghini, at least four fields of mutual interest between RCGI and POETS came up during this first workshop. “In the area of hybrid systems, the subject of RCGI’s projects 7 and 29, there is the possibility of cooperation. Since they deal with the optimization of the use of sensors, there is also the possibility, in the field of sensor development, of detecting CO2 and CH4 leaks under severe conditions – not only in tanks, but also under water, thousands of meters deep. The areas of topological optimization and of the optimization of systems design can also require collaboration between the two Centers,” he says.

Julio Meneghini, Scientific Director of the RCGI


The coordinator of the event and of one of the RCGI projects working exactly with topological optimization, Professor Emílio Silva, calls attention to the similarity between POETS and RCGI, both in the formatting and the duration of the projects. “POETS is a ten-year project devised in association with the National Science Foundation, in the United States. RCGI is also a project that is expected to last ten years and managed by FAPESP. Both are research centers. So they have much in common.” He also states that the collaboration with POETS can be very good for the Professors at Poly, who will have an opportunity to do joint research with Professors from different American universities.

On the 17th, Alleyne and the other visiting researchers – Alan Mantooth, Mariana Silva Sohn, Sonya Smith, and Eric Pop – visited FAPESP, where they were received by Professor José Roberto de França Arruda. “FAPESP already has an agreement with the National Science Foundation. The objective of this visit is to add POETS to the agreement so that the foundation can publish public notices by which Professors and Brazilian graduate students  can submit project and raise funding to go to the USA. Or even to think about the possibility of joint public notices, which is an existing modality at FAPESP,” Professor Emílio Silva explained.

From left to right: Mariana Silva Sohn, Eric Pop, Alan Mantooth, Emílio Silva and Andrew Alleyne