Cardiac and respiratory complaints increased, likely due to commuters being left without subway transportation or elevators, according to the report. Paramedics responded to a large number of heat-related medical calls because air conditioners could not function. Ambulances struggled to navigate streets that lacked functioning traffic signals and were crowded with commuters walking home.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is supporting a technological advance that could reduce the chances of similar blackouts occurring in the future. The Directorate’s Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA) helped fund the development of an electrical cable that could be used to link substations, providing backup sources of electricity in the event part of the grid experiences an outage. The Resilient Electric Grid project will help ensure the nation’s utilities can withstand power surges that cause blackouts.
According to Sarah Mahmood, program manager for HSARPA, electric utilities have hesitated to connect substations in the past. Although one substation can compensate for another’s outage if the two are linked, there is a downside to building an interconnected grid. If an equipment failure, terrorist attack, or lightning strike causes a power surge, also known as a fault current, that fault current can cascade through the grid and knock out every substation and piece of equipment connected to the problem site. Part of the Resilient Electric Grid project is the development of a superconductor cable designed to suppress fault currents that can potentially cause permanent equipment damage. This technology will allow electric companies to link substations without running the risk of fault currents cascading through the electric grid. “This will help [first responders] by keeping that backbone [of the electric grid] up and running,” Mahmood said.
In 2007, HSARPA awarded a contract to American Superconductor Corporation to develop an inherently fault-current limiting high-temperature superconductor cable (IFCL-HTS), also known as Secure Super Grids, which was the first of its kind. A superconductor offers no resistance to electricity flowing through it, thus eliminating power loss incurred with regular wires. In order to do this, however, the superconductor must be super cooled to -460°F. According to Jason Fredette, director of corporate communications for American Superconductor, when a large fault current travels through the grid, the superconductor cable heats up and stops conducting, effectively suppressing the power surge. “The wire itself can act as a smart switch,” Fredette said.
What makes IFCL-HTS cable unique is that it operates at a higher temperature than traditional superconductors, -320°F, which makes it more practical for use. American Superconductor and its partner Southwire Company developed a 25-meter IFCL-HTS cable that was tested at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in 2009. According to Dr. Christopher Rey, senior staff scientist at ORNL, the lab plans to test an improved version in the near future.
In addition to preventing surges, the IFCL-HTS cable can improve electrical service to dense urban areas, according to David Lindsay, director for distribution engineering at Southwire Company. Superconductor cables can carry up to 10 times more electricity than a typical copper cable, and superconductor cables transmit electricity with near zero resistance. The added capacity and efficiency is useful for large cities such as New York, where electricity demand is rising and underground space to run additional cables is limited.
The fault current-limiting superconductor cables are best suited for urban markets, according to Lindsay. In rural areas, he explained, it would likely be more affordable to use overhead power lines and other solutions to suppress power surges. As developmental testing of the cable concludes, HSARPA will explore the possibility of installing the IFCL-HTS technology in a selected location in the electric grid for an operational demonstration, according to Mahmood.
Another aspect of DHS’s Resilient Electric Grid project focuses on developing a stand alone fault current-limiting device that can be installed anywhere on the existing electric grid, according to Mahmood. DHS is collaborating with Silicon Power to develop a Solid State Current Limiter. A semiconductor switch in the device suppresses power surges in electric cables. The technology would allow utilities to incorporate surge protector capabilities into the infrastructure without replacing current cables or existing protection schemes. DHS is scheduled to hold a demonstration of that technology’s key elements at the KEMA, Inc. testing facility in Chalfont, Penn. in the fall of 2010.
These solutions would protect critical infrastructure dependent on electrical power from blackouts that not only threaten safety, but commerce as well. Power outages cost the nation approximately $100 billion a year, according to HSARPA. Having a resilient electric grid will protect Wall Street and other financial centers from power outages, according to Fredette. “If New York City goes black, that damages our economy,” he said. “This project employs superconductor technology to protect our nation’s financial centers.”
For more information on HSARPA, visit www.dhs.gov/files/grants/gc_1247254578009.shtm. For more information on ORNL, visit www.ornl.gov.The latest issue of the R-Tech Newsletter is posted at www.firstresponder.gov/Pages/NewsLetter.aspx . This link provides access to past issues of the newsletter, as well as the opportunity to subscribe to future issues.
The newsletter is part of the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s First Responder Technologies (R-Tech) outreach program to federal, tribal, state, and local first responders. R-Tech’s mission is to protect America against terrorism, disasters, and all other hazards by providing first responder solutions for high priority capability gaps due to technology and assisting first responders through rapid prototyping, technical assistance and information sharing. For more information, please visit R-Tech’s Website, www.FirstResponder.gov.
John Verrico | Newswise Science News
Did you know that the wrapping of Easter eggs benefits from specialty light sources?
13.04.2017 | Heraeus Noblelight GmbH
To e-, or not to e-, the question for the exotic 'Si-III' phase of silicon
05.04.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences