Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

University of Kansas Smart Grid Demonstration Project

EPA Grant Number: SU834697
Title: University of Kansas Smart Grid Demonstration Project
Investigators: Depcik, Christopher
Current Investigators: Depcik, Christopher , Clemon, Lee , Heilman, Shelton , Mattson, Jon , Moore, Andrew , Necefer, Len , Strecker, Bryan , Surface, Nicholas
Institution: University of Kansas
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: August 15, 2010 through August 14, 2011
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2010) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The University of Kansas (KU) EcoHawks Design Project began in 2008 with the conversion of a discarded 1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle into a fuel neutral series hybrid running on 100% biodiesel created from waste vegetable oil. This project continued in year two through upgrading the initial conversion prototype with plug-in recharging capability and the creation of an autonomous solar energy filling station. The overall focus of the efforts relate directly to sustainability by improving air quality through reduced emissions, as well as extending vehicle range to conserve the renewable resources the vehicle utilizes. In addition, this aids the planet and people by developing a curriculum at a major university geared towards renewable and sustainable energy, thereby ensuring future prosperity. The planned extension of current efforts is into demonstration and use of smart grid technologies.


Current students at KU have built a small-scale solar energy filling station for Remote Control (RC) cars, along with upgrading an unused barn into a model of solar plug-in technologies for automobiles. These options provide only a one-way flow of energy from the sun to a vehicle, either RC or Beetle. The broadening of these efforts into a multi-pathway involving flow to and from the electrical grid is the focus of this proposal.


Students will change the flow of energy to and from the solar panels, vehicle battery pack and electrical grid depending on the time of the day, electrical demand and cloud covering. Along the way, students will incorporate theory in order to maximize the potential among all energy flow avenues to minimize the losses in the system.

Expected Results:

A mobile, smart grid experimental setup that measures the flow of energy to and from a plug-in electric vehicle is the planned outcome of this project. In addition, this project will educate students at KU in P3 concepts through competitive learning techniques (i.e. design competition), as well as, building bridges between consumers, industry, academia, and the engineers of tomorrow by fostering an open design environment. A focus of the student’s efforts is to involve engineers in all disciplines at KU along with helping cultivate K-12 development in order to help cultivate the technologies and join in a carbon neutral future.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 1 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 1 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

environmental, energy, economic, ethical, educational, sustainability, alternative fuel, plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, rechargeable, solar, energy technology revolution, interdisciplinary research, fuel conservation, energy efficiency, innovative technology;

Progress and Final Reports:
Final Report