Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Power Grid Eyed for Upgrade in Pitt Study

With a $600,000 grant from Pennsylvania’s Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority, the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering can begin imagining a power network that utilizes Direct Current technology, a step above the Alternating Current our power grid uses now.

Modern power is generated, transported and delivered by AC across a huge power grid that requires massive infrastructure and actually results in energy loss because it flows on the surface of a power line.

“So we’ll create greater efficiencies, be able to integrate certain forms of renewable resources such as solar energy and battery storage technology much more efficiently than we do today, and this will also be a much better match for what we use in terms of our consumer electronics,” says lead researcher and Pitt engineering professor Greg Reed.

Today’s electrical devices like high-def televisions and computers use DC input, requiring the common AC/DC converter many electronics need. With this grant, the University can begin working on how to transform a mainly AC-dominated grid into one that will utilize DC technology, which can also help our nation tap into renewable resources like solar and wind power.

The University will make use of the latest in simulator programs to recreate the reconstruction of an actual power grid.

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