Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Securing America's power grid

28.06.2006
Terrorists attack Colombia's electrical grid hundreds of times a year. What's to stop attacks on America's power lines?

An Iowa State University research team led by Arun Somani, chair and Jerry R. Junkins professor of electrical and computer engineering, is working to develop a network of wireless sensors that could monitor the country's electricity transmission system. While the sensors could pick up suspicious activity at power poles, they'd be especially useful at quickly locating any breakdowns. That could allow power companies to react in time to prevent power disruptions from cascading into blackouts. And the monitoring system could also help power companies quickly locate problems when severe weather tears down electrical lines.

With networks of sensors, "Power companies would have additional abilities to view their systems and that would assist in disaster recovery," Somani said.

America has a lot of transmission lines, substations and generators that could use some monitoring. The Department of Energy reported the country had 157,810 miles of transmission lines in 2004. And the department reported that America's power plants produced 3.97 billion megawatt hours of electricity in 2004.

The monitoring system depends on sensors housed in black boxes just a few inches across. Somani recently picked up one of the sensors inside Iowa State's Wireless and Sensor Networking Laboratory and showed off the electronics capable of watching out for conductor failures, tower collapses, hot spots and other extreme conditions. A tiny camera can also be mounted in the sensor to look for suspicious movements around power lines.

The project is supported by a $400,000 grant from the National Science Foundation and $150,000 from Iowa State's Information Infrastructure Institute.

The project's Iowa State research team also includes Manimaran Govindarasu, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Murti Salapaka, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Zhengdao Wang, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. Former Iowa State faculty member Vijay Vittal, now a professor of electrical engineering at Arizona State University, is also working on the project. Each of the researchers brings different specialties to the project.

And it's not an easy project, Somani said.

The researchers need to design a system that stands up to weather. They need to design sensors that can accurately monitor the power grid's electrical and mechanical characteristics. They need to find a way to monitor the area around electrical equipment for suspicious activity. They need to develop wireless communication networks so the sensors can send comprehensive data from far-flung areas to control centers. They need to design a diagnosis algorithm to accurately determine fault conditions and predict faults. They need to design a decision algorithm to reconfigure the power network to prevent or alleviate cascading failures. And they need to find ways to get electricity to the sensors because the electrical lines they're monitoring carry a different kind of power.

Somani said the researchers are making good progress on developing a prototype system. He said the research team is also starting to talk to power companies about the possibility of testing the system on the electrical grid. And he said project has implications for national security.

"With the increasing threat of terrorism around the world, more attention is being paid to the security of the transmission infrastructure," says a summary of the project. "Experiences in countries like Columbia, which has faced as many as 200 terrorist attacks on its transmission infrastructure per year, demonstrate the vulnerability of the power system to these kinds of events."

Mike Krapfl | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.iastate.edu

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Silicon solar cell of ISFH yields 25% efficiency with passivating POLO contacts
08.12.2016 | Institut für Solarenergieforschung GmbH

nachricht Robot on demand: Mobile machining of aircraft components with high precision
06.12.2016 | Fraunhofer IFAM

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: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>