December 4, 2015 by WVU Today
Morgantown, W.Va. – Researchers from West Virginia University, the National Energy Technology Laboratory and Schneider Electric have won an R&D 100 Award – a national award known as the “Oscar of innovation” – for the development of a virtual reality-based software that provides the energy industry with an unprecedented high-tech look inside the operation of power plants.
The R&D 100 awards, given annually by “R&D Magazine,” celebrate the top technology products of the year. For the first time in 2015, the 100 winners were chosen from across five categories: Analytical Test, IT/Electrical, Mechanical Devices/Materials, Process/Prototyping and Software/Services. The WVU-NETL-Schneider Electric entry was chosen in the Software/Service category.
The team from Schneider Electric created EYESIM, a three-dimensional, immersive, virtual reality software technology that gives engineers and operators of energy plants a clearer vision of conditions inside plant equipment while in operation so that greater, more-informed efficiency and safety decisions can be made faster and more effectively, saving time and money. Chemical engineering faculty members Richard Turton, WVUBolton Professor, and Debangsu Bhattacharyya teamed with Stephen Zitney and other researchers from NETL in testing and applying EYESIM in the development of a three-dimensional virtual model of an integrated gasification combined cycle power plant with carbon dioxide capture.
The EYESIM-based IGCC simulation is part of the Advanced Virtual Energy Simulation Training and Research – or AVESTAR – Center, which is housed at the National Resource Center for Coal and Energy at WVU. The simulator is designed to teach power plant personnel how to operate an integrated gasification combined cycle, or IGCC, power plant complete with carbon capture capability. Turton, Bhattacharyya and Zitney provided technical guidance to Schneider Electric, which markets the software.
According to Turton, “Much of the design documentation and its application to IGCC plants was developed by NETL and WVU. We also reviewed the engineering files and the plant models developed in the 3D virtual simulator.”
“EYESIM delivers easy-to-use, immersive and highly interactive virtual plant environments,” Zitney said. “It is an innovation that can help the fossil and renewable energy industries improve the safe, efficient, and reliable operation of highly integrated plants that cost tens of millions of dollars annually to operate and maintain.”
Users of the new product include plant control room, field, and maintenance operators, as well as engineers and managers from electric utilities, fossil energy producers, renewable energy companies, engineering and construction firms and equipment vendors. While initially developed for use with IGCC plants, Turton noted that the software is applicable to any type of chemical or power plant.
EYESIM joins a long list of impressive technologies that have received R&D 100 Awards and gone on to become household names. Past products bearing this distinction include the flashcube (1965), the automated teller machine (1973), the halogen lamp (1974), the fax machine (1975), the liquid crystal display (1980), the Kodak Photo CD (1991), the Nicoderm anti-smoking patch (1992), Taxol anticancer drug (1993), lab on a chip (1996) and HDTV (1998).
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