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 Researchers take next step toward fusion energy
16.11.2017 | Texas A&M University

nachricht Desert solar to fuel centuries of air travel
16.11.2017 | SolarPACES

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: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Previous evidence of water on mars now identified as grainflows

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope completes final cryogenic testing

21.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New catalyst controls activation of a carbon-hydrogen bond

21.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>