Power grid of a whole town on a single chip?

A research team from Switzerland’s EPFL Electronics Lab has come up with a tiny chip that can manage power grid network issues as much as 1000x faster than current available software. The first demonstration of this technology will be done at the forthcoming EPFL Middle East research days (June 22-23).

Our current power grid is vunerable to problems like defective power lines, problems with generators, or risks of power cuts. They can now be handled by the newly developed device. The chip, that is only 44 mm thick, is a thousand times faster than current software running on a conventional computer. Apparently it is so fast that it can, not only manage defects, but also model thousands of failure scenarios and figure out the best solutions before they happen. The research team at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, led by Maher Kayal, says the tiny chip costs just a few dollars to make, but can take in real time information and make subtle changes in energy consumption that can save huge amounts of money and electricity.

École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne

EPFL’s chip could also easily integrate grid-connected renewable energy sources, which are already become increasingly more common nowadays. When renewables are available–which isn’t all the time–the chip can automatically prioritize them. “Apart from the increased speed, a further advantage will be an easier use of renewable energy sources that depend on climatic conditions, and therefore are non-programmable, in comparison with nuclear energy power stations, which require advance planning,” says Maher Kayal of ELab in a statement.

The first unit of this integrated circuit has just been developed and could be deployed on the scale of a town five years from now.

Via: Fastcompany.com

For more info, see: EPFL Middle East


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