Title: Distributed, Intelligent Edge-Sensing for a Smarter Grid
Dr. Divan, Advisor
Dr. Grijalva, Chair
The objective of the proposed research is to develop a new class of sensing solutions that can help in situational awareness in smart grids. As the number of distributed sensors and actuators connected to the grid increase almost exponentially, centralized connectivity models fail to provide economic value. These models have traditionally relied on expensive sensors sending raw data to the cloud for computation and processing, and receiving specific commands for exerting control actions, resulting in a system that requires high bandwidth, low latency and an overload of data on the cloud. A decentralized architecture is proposed, where sensing, local computation and control capability are embedded in the edge devices. These devices report only actionable information to the cloud, resulting in a lean ‘delay-tolerant’ system that can function autonomously. The proposed system leverages smart, low-cost ‘clip-on’ current sensors that are developed and can be quickly installed on conductors in the field. A new method to improve the dynamic range of the current sensor has been proposed, resulting in performance that is orders of magnitude better than state of the art sensors. The sensor, capable of recognizing fault current signatures, can be used by utility operators to gain advanced situational awareness in distribution networks. The sensor is designed to be low-cost and yet, covers a wide range of operating ranges and modes, including edge-computation, intelligence and communications. Finally the research proposes a method to instrument and monitor the most common electric utility asset - the distribution transformer. The novel sensor design and the decentralized architecture allows utility operators to intelligently monitor transformers and other utility assets at an ultra-low cost. The proposed research can result in a new class of devices that can help in monitoring distributed utility assets in an economical way.