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article imageSmart sensor predicts power outages

By Tim Sandle     Apr 23, 2018 in Technology
Akron - Power downtime is disruptive to businesses and consumers. Imagine if there was a smart sensor that could predict when a power outage was about to occur, giving time to deactivate sensitive equipment or to start up emergency generators?
Such a device is under development at the University of Akron. The project involves assessing and predicting the types of breakdowns that affect overhead power lines and underground cables.
The technology has been developed in conjunction with the tech company Exacter, Inc. This project is designed to predict, detect and prevent problems with electrical equipment. The complexity with the development has been with miniaturizing the technology for applications on electrical distribution and transmission lines.
The sensors have been reduced down to cell phone-sized “smart sensors”. These devices work by detecting and measuring radio frequency signals. These types of signals are emitted from faulty components. The sensors allow for continuous, real-time monitoring.
The use of such sensors will not only give earlier signals of impending breakdowns, and allowing repairs to be made in advance, the sensors could also save on human resources. Currently electrical equipment is subject to inspection on-site by technicians.
Even when the sensors fail to predict issues, they will be able to play a role in identifying where a problem has occurred. This will help technicians to quickly understand the result of power failures, such as fires and explosions.
According to Dr. Jose Alexis De Abreu-Garcia, who led the research, the technology will be useful for the U.S. grid going forward: “The sensors being developed by our team will be measuring various factors that can adversely impact electrical transmission and cause power outages. Many of these measurements are not being monitored or collected today.”
The research was funded to the tune of $3 million from the Ohio Development Service Agency’s Innovation Platform Program. The concept forms part of the emerging Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). This concerns a network of industrial structures equipped with electronic devices designed to facilitate communication and data exchange. The focus will be the largest utilities in the U.S.
More about Energy, Power, Sensors, Smart grid
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