Integration of Smart Utility Grids with Dynamic Optical Communication Networks for Intelligent Distribution of Power Workload and Data in Disaster

Project: Research project

Description

Need: Disaster events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, or major tornados can have far reaching impact across a large region, devastating or crippling critical infrastructure (See Fig 1). The electrical grid can experience outages lasting weeks. The loss or limited availability of critical communication and data infrastructure further compounds the severity of the event and hampers recovery efforts. Communication is essential for the coordination of the recovery effort and public guidance regarding medical aid and food sources. Within a disaster area renewable energy sources can provide power in localized areas. During the recovery as the electrical grid comes back on line available conventional, backup, and renewable energy may form a patchwork of micro-grids, with the potential to likewise facilitate communication grids and provide data facilities that can both inform the population and speed the recovery process. Main Concept: Smart electrical grid capabilities acting in coordination with dynamic communication networks have the potential to mitigate the impact of and speed the recovery from major disaster events (Figure 2). Either in advance of the event, when possible as in the case of hurricanes, or as the event unfolds, dynamic communication capabilities would enable the movement of large volumes of data to repositories outside the disaster zone. Additional data and communication resources could be made available to emergency services. Communication networks throughout the disaster area could be reconfigured to a disaster mitigation and recovery state. As services or connections are lost during the event, the network would dynamically respond, routing around outage areas to maximize the availability of critical communication and data resources during the event. Furthermore, live communication capabilities can be used to manage a smart electrical grid, re-balancing the electrical loads and taking maximum use of renewable energy sources. During the recovery process, renewable energy sources can be used to keep the communication network up, particularly for prolonged outages for which backup supplies may become exhausted, and that infrastructure can then be used to provide feedback and control to the grid as it comes up. Solar panels with intelligent controls can adapt their operation to the changing load maximizing the power delivery and easing the return of the main power grid.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date10/15/1311/30/15

Funding

  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $187,500.00

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Optical communication
Fiber optic networks
Disasters
Telecommunication networks
Recovery
Communication
Outages
Hurricanes
Availability
Emergency services
Tornadoes
Critical infrastructures
Intelligent control
Earthquakes
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