MapleSim used in the field of renewable energy engineering - User Case Studies - Maplesoft

User Case Study: MapleSim used in the field of renewable energy engineering

MapleSim™ is a high-performance multi-domain modeling and simulation tool that is based on an intuitive block-diagram design. It allows engineers to simulate complex systems quickly by dragging, dropping, and connecting a wide range of pre-built physical components from multiple physical domains. It also provides an environment for creating new components.

David Parker, an engineer with many years of experience working in electronics engineering and related fields, has always been interested in the topic of renewable energy, particularly solar energy. He began his career in the US Navy where he first learned basic electronics, and has since worked in numerous high-tech research institutes and companies including the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Ampex Corporation, and the High Energy Physics Lab at Stanford University. Parker’s first project dealing with renewable energy was to design and build a 1.2 KW grid-tied photovoltaic system for his home. He found himself drawn to issues concerning the environment, specifically with respect to alternative energies, and so he decided to study within this particular engineering field.

This year, he will receive his B.S. in Renewable Energy Engineering from the Oregon Institute of Technology in Portland, Oregon. He is one of a growing number of professionals choosing to complete this program, the first of its kind in the United States, which was started in 2005 in response to the growing need for more experts in sustainable energy in the face of today’s environmental concerns.

Series RLC circuit model developed using MapleSim For a second-year course on Laplace Transforms and Applications, Parker wrote a paper on the analysis in the s-domain of a series RLC circuit. In the paper, he predicts the response of a bandpass filter RLC circuit using theoretical Laplace transform techniques, and then compares his calculated results with simulated measurements from MapleSim and with the actual physical response of a breadboarded circuit. The resultant MapleSim simulations for frequency, impulse, step, and ramp responses matched the theoretical predictions extremely well.

Working with systems such as electric circuits can be extremely time-consuming. To work in the time-domain, it is necessary to solve systems of differential and integral equations, a time-consuming and tedious process. Students learn to apply the Laplace transform, which translates a system representation from the time (t) domain to the frequency (s) domain. Working with s-domain representations requires only basic algebra, which is a much easier proposition.

Frequency response plotted in Maple

However, performing the mathematical translation and subsequent algebraic calculations can be error-prone as well, so Parker found the use of MapleSim and Maple™ to confirm results invaluable. He was able to re-create physical systems on the screen in a few minutes with components representing the actual resistors and capacitors, easily run the simulations to verify the system response, and, because MapleSim allowed him access to the equations underlying his system, he could verify his mathematical work and gain a deeper understanding.

With the use of MapleSim, students can relate easily to the mathematics learned with the real systems they represent, and more meaning is imparted during the learning process. Because students are not hindered by the mathematical details, they can go further and really focus on the engineering concepts being taught.

“MapleSim (and Maple) were of immense help in my Laplace class… Both are very powerful tools for modeling and simulation,” Parker said. “[My work] would have been much more difficult without Maple and MapleSim.”