Pitt | Swanson Engineering
News Listing

Jan

Jan
19
2018

Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania elects Pitt energy expert Dr. Gregory Reed to Board of Directors

Electrical & Computer

PITTSBURGH (January 19, 2018) … Gregory Reed, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, is among the 2018 cohort to join the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania (ESWP) Board of Directors. Dr. Reed is also Director of Pitt’s Center for Energy and the Energy GRID Institute. His research includes advanced electric power grid and energy generation, transmission, and distribution system technologies; power electronics and control technologies (FACTS, HVDC, and MVDC systems); micro-grids and DC infrastructure development, renewable energy systems and integration; smart grid technologies and applications; and energy storage. He earned his PhD in electric power engineering from the University of Pittsburgh (1997); his M.Eng. in electric power from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1986), and his B.S.E.E. with electric power concentration from Gannon University (1985). “I am truly honored to join the ESWP Board, and I look forward to working with my board colleagues in advancing the organization’s mission,” Dr. Reed said. “ESWP and the Swanson School have shared nearly 140 years of advancing engineering in our region, and so I am humbled to be part of that legacy.” About ESWP The ESWP mission is to advance the professions of engineering, architecture, and applied sciences through technical activities, public service participation and social organizations. It also supports the needs of industries, communities and government in western Pennsylvania. Since its founding in 1880, ESWP has continually served as a focal point for the area’s engineering and technical community. Today the ESWP serves more than 800 members and 30 associated technical societies who reflect the richness of the full spectrum of engineering and applied science disciplines. ###

Jan
5
2018

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Vehicle-to-Grid Services

Electrical & Computer

Read the full story at Microgrid Knowledge. All eyes are on Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) as it tests the ability of EVs to help power homes during outages and provide demand response. Will vehicle-to-grid live up to its big promise? Industry insiders are both optimistic and cautious... ...Brandon Grainger, associate director, Electric Power Systems Laboratory at University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, says that large communities of EVs can be used to benefit the grid. If enough generation is available from such a “community,” starting up the grid after a large outage could be easier, he says. “One could coordinate specific electric vehicles to function as generation sources and those that can serve as a load. This thought may help to enhance system resiliency. This capability (acting as source or load) is dependent on the power flow that is exchanged between the car and the grid.” If the car receives electricity, it’s a load, but if it’s sending power to the grid or another vehicle, it’s a generation source, he explains. “This can all be done with the intelligent, high power dense power electronic systems built into the cars themselves,” he says. However, if car owners are expected to participate in such events, utilities need to provide incentives to compensate owners for the use of their vehicles and for discharging their batteries, he adds. “Similar to the tax credits for installing PV generation on homes to generate widespread adoption, an incentive for battery replacement will need to be crafted,” he says. If utility use leads to batteries being replaced more often, disposing of the batteries in an environmentally friendly fashion may be a challenge, he notes. In taking advantage of EVs, utilities need to figure out how to determine whether the batteries are charged enough to help when there is an outage. Systems need to be developed to provide this service, he says.
Llisa Cohn, Microgrid Knowledge
Jan
4
2018

A look into the fourth dimension

Electrical & Computer

Ever since Albert Einstein developed the special theory of relativity in Zurich in 1905, by «fourth dimension» one usually means time. But how can one visualize a fourth spatial dimension – in addition to top-bottom, right-left and front-back? In the arts Salvador Dalí tried that: his crucifixion scene painted in 1954 shows as cross consisting of the three-dimensional unfolding of a hypercube in four dimensions (similarly to the unfolding of a cube into squares). A completely different, but no less fascinating, look into the fourth spatial dimension was now obtained by two teams of scientists from Switzerland, USA, Germany, Italy and Israel. The ETH Zurich researcher Oded Zilberberg, professor at the Institute for Theoretical Physics, played a pivotal role in both publications, which were recently published in the scientific journal Nature (doi:10.1038/nature25000). He provided the theoretical basis for the experiments in which a four-dimensional physical phenomenon could be observed in two dimensions. ...A team of physicists led by Mikael Rechtsman at Penn State University and including Kevin Chen’s group at the University of Pittsburgh in the USA has realized Oded Zilberberg’s idea by burning a two-dimensional array of waveguides into a fifteen-centimeter-long glass block using laser beams. Those waveguides were not straight, however, but rather meandered through the glass in a snake-like fashion so that the distances between them varied along the glass block. Depending on those distances, light waves moving through the waveguides could jump more or less easily to a neighboring waveguide. Read the entire news release from ETH Zurich.
Author: Oliver Morsch, ETH
Jan
3
2018

Pittsburgh Steels Up for Microgrid Leadership

Electrical & Computer

Reposted from Energy Times. View article here. Beginning in 2015, the University of Pittsburgh’s Energy GRID Institute took the lead on defining the concept, and anchoring the research and development, for the city of Pittsburgh’s “District Energy Initiative: The Grid of Microgrids.”  The early work related to this concept has thus far centered on collaborating with the city, the U.S. Department of Energy, industry participants, and community partners to better understand how energy is produced, delivered, and consumed within the city and the broader region.  At the same time, Pitt’s technical research in electric power systems and technologies have focused on better understanding the operational, financial, and technical impacts of new energy systems designs – including microgrids – through applied demonstrations with community partners, while also analyzing the environmental, social, and economic aspects of these new demonstrations.The concept for a Grid of Microgrids brings together the strong value propositions of both independent energy eco-systems in harmony with a larger integrated energy network.  To-date, there are four major projects underway in which the GRID Institute is participating.They include an analysis for an energy baseline report as part of Pittsburgh’s Climate Action Plan 3.0, along with a broad energy planning analysis and strategy development for the broader Commonwealth of Pennsylvania;  the  development and successful implementation of a world-class test bed for Pitt’s direct current infrastructure research with the Pitt-Ohio Express trucking company at their Harmar distribution facility, through the country’s first all-DC-based renewable solar and wind) and storage integration; partnering with the local electric utility, Duquesne Light Company, on their Wood’s Run Complex microgrid project; and efforts on Pitt’s own campus through the support of the facilities management group on a long term energy and conservation plan.   Many other projects and demonstrations are in the concept and planning stages throughout the city and the region, including developments for local communities and neighborhoods, hospital networks, industrial and commercial facilities and parks, greenfield developments, and retrofits of existing infrastructure. All of these efforts are leading to an unprecedented sustainable energy transition in Pittsburgh, and have ensured that the diverse and innovative contributions of technical researchers is being translated into deployable projects across the city, while also understanding and identifying how project developers, technology providers, and broader utilities can better cooperate and demonstrate the creation of more sustainable, reliable, affordable, secure, and resilient energy infrastructures.In 2018, the efforts will focus on putting more of these plans into action. With the expected completion in early 2018 of the GRID Institute’s new utility-scale Electric Power Technologies Lab at the Pittsburgh Energy Innovation Center, more opportunities will be available to accelerate research and development of applicable technologies and designs for continuing the advancement of these important energy system demonstrations, with an even greater emphasis on industry participation and community engagement. By 2019 and beyond, it is envisioned that a truly integrated and intelligent energy network will begin to emerge that embraces more sustainable solutions with advanced technology architectures.
Gregory Reed and Katrina Kelly, Energy GRID Institute