Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research generates reliable energy source during outages

10.12.2003


As utility companies search for ways to avoid blackouts, like the one that shut down the northeastern corner of the United States last summer, one idea comes from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.



Researchers from the College of Engineering have designed a system where a small network of local generators can reliably disconnect from the rest of the power supply, enabling locations where electricity is critical to stay in operation.

Most buildings receive their electrical power from transmission lines branching off a main power grid. With energy coming from a large network -- the one responsible for the August 2003 blackout stretched 157,000 miles -- any disruption could cause a cascade of powerlessness in cities near and far.


Because the new technology developed at UW-Madison receives its power locally, it can "leap frog" transmission lines, avoiding any failures within those lines, says lead inventor Robert Lasseter, professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering.

The UW-Madison technology consists of a microgrid, a small network of several power generators located at a single site. These generators, integrated into the main energy distribution system, encompass a wide range of power sources, including micro-turbines, gas internal combustion engines, fuel cells and photovoltaic, which generates voltage from light exposure.

When problems occur within the transmission lines, the generators and their loads (the devices each one powers) can separate from the main distribution system to isolate particular areas - hospital rooms or factory floor, for example - from the disturbance.

Explains Lasseter: "The critical loads in a microgrid can ride through any event. That means they can stay alive when the grid fails." The ability to "island" generators and electrical loads together, he adds, has the potential to provide higher local power reliability than that provided by the distribution system as a whole.

But providing this reliability requires more than separating the microgrid from the main power system, says Lasseter. Drops in voltage, even from generators in a small network, can lead to fluctuations in power that shut down equipment or recalibrate machinery. These are the types of costly problems that businesses want to avoid during a blackout, Lasseter adds.

To dodge these fluctuations, the Wisconsin engineer and his graduate student, Paolo Piagi, have fit the generators in the migrogrid with voltage source inverters - a power electronic device that allows each generator to regulate voltage, thereby regulating electric current and the energy it produces.

Besides sidestepping possible power outages, the microgrid system is more energy efficient. All generators - whether part of a utility plant or small building - produce more waste heat than electricity.

However, smaller generators, such as those in Lasseter’s microgrid network, can easily be placed in areas that need to be heated, says the Wisconsin engineer. This placement of the generators and the waste heat they produce, he adds, can bump up the amount of usable energy to nearly 90 percent, and can do so without the use of complex heat distribution systems, such as steam and chilled water pipes.

Lasseter and his UW-Madison colleagues are discussing a project to build a working microgrid with the California Department of Energy and the national laboratories of Sandia, Oak Ridge and Lawrence Livermore. The project would simulate the possible use of a microgrid at a small factory.

The microgrid design is patented by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, a non-profit organization that patents and licenses intellectual property for the university.


Emily Carlson
608-262-9772
emilycarlson@wisc.edu

Emily Carlson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wisc.edu/

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Multicrystalline Silicon Solar Cell with 21.9 % Efficiency: Fraunhofer ISE Again Holds World Record
20.02.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Solare Energiesysteme ISE

nachricht Six-legged robots faster than nature-inspired gait
17.02.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>