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Liang’' NSF grant aims to push smart grid closer to capacity

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Monday, February 20, 2012

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Media Contact: Herb Booth, Office:817-272-7075, Cell:214-546-1082, hbooth@uta.edu

A UT Arlington electrical engineering professor has received a $300,000 National Science Foundation grant to determine how much closer technology can push toward the upper boundary of a smart grid’s threshold.

Qilian Liang

Qilian Liang, who joined The University of Texas at Arlington in 2002, is working to marry electrical grid infrastructure with information technologies to transmit and distribute power closer to that threshold. The goal of the project is to determine the threshold, and to figure out the roadmap toward that threshold.

One study conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy concludes that internal modernization of U.S. grids with smart grid capabilities could save between $46 billion and $117 billion during the next 20 years.

“The capacity limit on a smart grid is enormous,” Liang said. “We want to use the Internet, cellular phone systems, sensor networks, everything available to inch closer to that upper boundary so that we can find out what the limit is in terms of information transmission.”

A smart grid is a digitally enabled, electrical grid that collects information about usage and demand then acts on it to improve the efficiency, reliability and sustainability of electricity services.

Liang said that threshold is important to know if people are to plan for how large a smart grid to build and maintain.

“We also want to see how best to achieve that capacity,” Liang said. “Outside factors like temperature and humidity enter into the equation. What are optimum conditions to get as close to that threshold as possible?”

Finally, Liang will study how much smart grid energy is needed to meet a growing population’s needs.

“We need to know energy expectations due to population increases in the future to better plan for those people,” he said. “We will develop a planning tool for future grid needs as part of this grant.”

Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of the College of Engineering, said Liang’s work is crucial as the need for more and better use of smart grids grows.

“Meeting those needs is not just a U.S. challenge,” Bardet said. “It is a worldwide challenge.”

Liang’s work is representative of the groundbreaking research under way at The University of Texas at Arlington, a comprehensive research institution of 33,439 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.

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