Texas A&M University at Qatar undergraduate students Fatima Al-Janahi ’20 and Rahul Balamuruga ’20 mentored by Dr. Robert S. Balog have been awarded the Texas A&M University Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) Outstanding Thesis Award for STEM.

Photovoltaic (PV) system fire hazards pose a serious threat to public safety and finances. Arc faults are one of the main causes of electrical fires, shock hazards, and failures in PV systems, thus, arc fault detection is crucial for reliable and safe system operation and is a prerequisite for high penetration of PV. To develop effective arc-fault detectors, a thorough understanding of the electrical characteristics of PV arcs is required, which is possible only by obtaining large samples of voltage and current waveforms. Various combinations of electrode material and geometry, electrical voltage and current, and electrode gap separation profile can be studied as these factors are hypothesized to affect the electrical characteristics of the arc. The arc voltage and current waveforms are then analyzed using spectral analysis methods.

Their research was supported in part by an Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP) grant # UREP24-023-2-010 from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of Qatar Foundation).