OPAL-RT TECHNOLOGIES: Designing the Perfect Control Strategy

Jean Bélanger, Co-founder, CEO, and CTO
'Putting the power of industrial simulation on your desk’— OPAL-RT’s vision—is the answer to the unprecedented challenge that the technology industry has faced with simulation-based technologies for decades. Requiring exceptional processing power to design high-end systems using real-time simulation, the technology has been limited to large organizations that can afford the highly expensive, analog simulator or custom super computer to run simulations. That is precisely where OPAL-RT has carved its niche and has shown industries a new approach. “When we founded OPAL-RT two decades ago, I had one simple vision in mind. I decided to make sure that real-time simulation and its unlimited potential will be available to all organizations, engineers, and even students,”remarks Jean Belanger, CEO and CTO, OPAL-RT. Based in Montréal, the firm excels in delivering high-quality, affordable real-time digital simulation software solutions and hardware devices, and in designing control strategies for complex power electronics systems and smart grids for businesses of all sizes.

OPAL-RT’s unique value to the market stems from its skill in designing both mathematical simulation solvers and hardware. Since its inception, the firm’s mission has been to design simulators that could run seamlessly on standard PCs and deliver the same quality performance –or better– than the expensive, custom computer-based simulation solutions. This approach ultimately differentiated it from its industry peers. OPAL-RT also designs high-performance FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Arrays) boards and mathematical solvers to accurately simulate power electronics systems that enable testing and design of the fast control systems used in electric hybrid cars, more electric aircrafts, and micro-grids. Also, the simulators exhibit time step performance in the range of a few nanoseconds or microseconds, in contrast to the traditional systems that could only provide time steps of several hundred microseconds. The simulations based on OPAL-RT’s hardware devices thus greatly reduce the need for high-tech laboratories and extra expenditures for customers, while delivering much greater accuracy and flexibility than conventional systems.
When we look to the software field, we see, once again, OPAL-RT takes a different path, basing their concepts on standard PC systems. “We knew that parallel processing using multi-cores would be the future of standard computing. We designed our digital simulation solutions to work with our FPGA boards in such a way that they could leverage the power of parallel processing and provide the highest performance,” remarks Mr. Belanger. The company’sprime real-time simulation software solutions—HYPERSIM, eMEGASIM, eFPGASIM and ePHASORSIM—can provide added value to standard simulation platforms (such as MATLAB) and interface with physical controllers and protection systems used in all industries. These solutions make it possible to simulate control systems, and design comprehensive control strategies seamlessly. For instance, an organization specializing in smart grids can digitally design the control strategy for its complex power grid and its entire power delivery network using OPAL-RT’s simulation solutions. Once complete, the customercan interface the simulator with the actualphysical controllers and protection networks to test the designed model’s performance, security, and efficiency. The final control system, after successful testing, would be able to detect and monitor any fault or security breach in the power grid and the distribution network, making the system inherently resistant to such causes and hence prevent unnecessary blackouts.

OPAL-RT has put intensive focus on expanding its research capabilities to strengthen its industry expertise and create more innovative products and solutions and gain a substantial edge over its competitors. OPAL-RT currently supplies simulators to several national laboratories for in-depth research of micro-grids, power electronics, and more advanced simulator solutions. This is what Mr. Belanger calls “demonstration projects”: if the demonstrations are successful, OPAL-RT would then partner with corporations to allow them to use its new solutions. In the process, OPAL-RT envisions global expansion by extending its research facilities into the South American, European, and Asia-Pacific regions.


Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Jean Bélanger, Co-founder, CEO, and CTO and Lise Laforce, Co-founder, Executive Vice-President

Delivers high performance, cost-effective real-time simulation solutions for designing control strategies of power electronics systems used in automotive, aerospace, and energy sectors