When a rhythm stalls, the effect can be fatal – in a power grid it can mean a blackout, and in the human heart even death.
An international team of scientists has now developed a new approach for revoking these undesired quenching states. They use an advanced mathematical methodology, building on complex networks analysis, and demonstrate it in experiments with chemical reactions.
This could one day help to stabilize the flow of electricity in power grids challenged by the variable input from renewable energy sources. Future research could apply it to other complex networks, including processes within body cells and even the human cardiovascular system.
“Many systems rely on tiny movements back and forth, in a certain rhythm, like in music – we call this oscillation,” says Jürgen Kurths of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany, head of the research team. “Now if the rhythm gets disturbed, the system cannot continue working properly. Hence the interest in finding ways to restore the rhythm.” The findings will publish in the eminent journal Nature Communications.
Fluctuating renewable energy generation enhances power grid stress
Power grid stability was the point of departure for the scientists. The alternating current transmitted in power lines swings at a certain frequency, for instance 50 Hertz in Europe and 60 in the US. This regular behaviour can get disturbed when the power input changes from one moment to another – this can happen, for instance, with electricity generated by windmills when a storm or a calm period occurs, while coal-fired power plants produce a steady flow of energy. Yet more and more renewable energy is being fed into power grids, since burning fossil fuels emits greenhouse gases which are the main cause of dangerous climate change.
To avoid power grid stress, and eventually blackouts, new approaches to stabilize current frequency are much desired. The method the scientists now found is just one of a number of approaches, many of them already under discussion. Yet it is an unprecedentedly innovative one. “The principle is fairly simple, but the mathematics behind it are not”, says István Kiss of Saint Louis University in the USA.
“We demonstrated that the theory applies to an experiment in which the rhythmicity can be restored in a small network of current generating chemical reactions. These reactions involve an ensemble of complex physical and chemical processes with many variables and uncertainties, so it is really surprising how well the purely mathematically derived approach proves to work here. This indicates a remarkable generality.”
Two organ-pipes of similar pitch can mutually suppress their vibration
The scientists studied the interaction of coupled oscillating systems. Already in the 19th century it was observed that two organ-pipes of similar pitch standing side by side can mutually suppress their vibration. Related phenomena are known from neuroscience, chemical reactions, and electronic circuits. Up to now, no solution for restoring the rhythm had been found.
The team of researchers involved comprises experts from China, India, Russia, the US, UK, Macedonia, and Germany. Several of the international scientists have been working on the study during their stay as guest scientists at PIK, so this is where they developed a good part of the analysis.
“We show that subtly delaying the impulse which goes from one element of the system to another, for instance in a power grid, can efficiently restore the previously disrupted oscillations,” says Wei Zou of Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China, lead author of the study. “Even a feeble deviation can make a huge difference here – I have to admit we have been surprised how simple and robust our method is. Now we hope it will open a door for future research in the field of complex systems science, and invoke eventually applications in many areas ranging from biology via engineering to social sciences.”
Article: Zou, W., Senthilkumar, D.V., Nagao, R., Kiss, I.Z., Tang, Y., Koseska, A., Duan, J., Kurths, J. (2015): Restoration of rhythmicity in diffusively coupled dynamical networks. Nature Communications [doi: NCOMMS8709]
Weblink, once the article is published: http://www.nature.com/naturecommunications
For further information please contact:
PIK press office
Phone: +49 331 288 25 07
Jonas Viering | Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung
Nano-scale process may speed arrival of cheaper hi-tech products
09.11.2018 | University of Edinburgh
Nuclear fusion: wrestling with burning questions on the control of 'burning plasmas'
25.10.2018 | Lehigh University
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
19.11.2018 | Event News
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.11.2018 | Medical Engineering
20.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy