The control room for the Cummins PIC lab allows users to visualize how microgrid components interact and how their control room would look.

By Steve Fiscor

Cummins celebrated the grand opening of a new microgrid lab called the Power Integration Center (PIC) at their Power Systems facility in Fridley, Minnesota. The PIC is a state-of-the-art facility that allows for Cummins engineers to test power system configurations including diesel, hydrogen and natural gas generator sets (gensets), photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, battery storage systems, fuel cells, transfer switches, switchgear and system-level controls.

“The PIC is the realization of a significant investment in engineering technology and innovation that will impact how companies use and build power systems to meet sustainability goals for a greener future,” said Gary Johansen, vice president for Cummins power systems engineering and project sponsor.

For a mining company considering a new installation in a remote location where grid power is unstable or non-existent, for example, Cummins Power Systems engineers could build a microgrid and test it using the PIC lab. A microgrid consists of power sources (grid, gensets, solar, etc.), loads (haul trucks, shovels, mills, crushers, fans, etc.), connections and controls. Before a mine invests $100 million in a microgrid, it could test the system and see how all the items work together, or not. They could also see what their control room would look like and how it would be wired.

The 20,000 ft2 lab includes an outdoor test area, main switchgear room, electrical mezzanine, and an engineering control room. Many different types of assets such as gensets, energy storage systems, fuel cells, and inverters can be tested in a variety of configurations. The outdoor test area includes five 500-kW test pads and two 2,000-kW test pads, which can be connected as sources or loads. Two 500 kW programmable load banks allow for scenarios to be run using real load profile data, at up to 0.8 leading or lagging power factor.

“With this center, we’ll be able to enhance our offerings throughout the product lifecycle,” said IDEA Program Office Leader and Project Sponsor Satish Jayaram. “We’ll reduce the cost and time it takes to test and validate solutions.” Previously, Cummins Power System engineers would connect the gensets in a parking lot and rely on software and models to test the entire system. Now, they have pads that allow a quick change with different size gensets with different fuels plumbed to each pad, along with the switchgear that interconnects with a load profile, and the control room provides a visual representation of the entire system.