Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Research Generates Reliable Energy Source During Outages

Date:
December 10, 2003
Source:
University Of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
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.

MADISON -- 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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Wisconsin-Madison. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Wisconsin-Madison. "Research Generates Reliable Energy Source During Outages." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 December 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/12/031210072849.htm>.
University Of Wisconsin-Madison. (2003, December 10). Research Generates Reliable Energy Source During Outages. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/12/031210072849.htm
University Of Wisconsin-Madison. "Research Generates Reliable Energy Source During Outages." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/12/031210072849.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Thanks, Marty McFly! Hoverboards Could Be Coming In 2015

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — If you've ever watched "Back to the Future Part II" and wanted to get your hands on a hoverboard, well, you might soon be in luck. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) — Researchers in South Korea are developing a robotic pilot that could potentially replace humans in the cockpit. Unlike drones and autopilot programs which are configured for specific aircraft, the robots' humanoid design will allow it to fly any type of plane with no additional sensors. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Graphene Paint Offers Rust-Free Future

Graphene Paint Offers Rust-Free Future

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) — British scientists have developed a prototype graphene paint that can make coatings which are resistant to liquids, gases, and chemicals. The team says the paint could have a variety of uses, from stopping ships rusting to keeping food fresher for longer. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
China Airlines Swanky New Plane

China Airlines Swanky New Plane

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) — China Airlines debuted their new Boeing 777, and it's more like a swanky hotel bar than an airplane. Enjoy high-tea, a coffee bar, and a full service bar with cocktails and spirits, and lie-flat in your reclining seats. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins