June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.1068.1 - 15.1068.9
Smart Grid, Cleantech, Sensor Networks Come of Age
Abstract One of the most active multi-disciplinary research areas in recent years has been that of sensor networks. However, there have been limited numbers of applications that have been deployed on anything other than a test-bed, trial, or custom application basis outside of the automotive industry, which uses this technology extensively, albeit basically limited to within vehicles. These types of networks hold great promise in applications that are geographically widespread but the cost of installation of such networks still tends to be prohibitive. Recently, with a new administration in place, initiatives in clean and renewable energy and efforts to improve the efficiency of our aging infrastructure have rapidly gained traction. Funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has spawned many initiatives by the power industry to modernize our legacy electrical grid system and transform it into a “smart grid”. Furthermore, the use of alternative and renewable energy sources and their interconnections to the national grid are facilitated by an intelligent grid and the use of computerized automation and control systems that utilize remote sensing and communications technologies that are both wireless and wired in nature. The similarities between the upgrading of our telecommunications infrastructure that has occurred over the past fifteen years and is still ongoing today and the plans for the upgrading of the electric grid have many parallels. However, in the case of the smart grid and so called cleantech (i.e. low carbon footprint) initiatives, it is the convergence of several maturing technologies that allows the benefits of these particular applications of sensor network technology to have economic viability when deployed on a large scale. Future sensor network initiatives in transportation applications that will most likely improve fuel efficiency and increase safety (possibly saving many lives and billions of dollars in costs due to fewer accidents) are still waiting for an economic tipping point or similar government stimulus funding before they too will become widespread.
Overview For the past decade, researchers in many diverse fields have been exploring the possibilities of the use of application specific sensor networks to perform a host of various tasks. This emerging technology paradigm essentially consists of the deployment of an assemblage of complex sensors with embedded (ambient) intelligence and advanced actuators. Combining this distributed ambient intelligence with modern data-transport and networking technologies and application- enabling software gives rise to new and potentially quality-of-life changing applications and in many already existing situations, the ability to increase system efficiency. Unfortunately, the high cost of deployment of such systems, especially if they are geographically dispersed, and the lack of appropriate standards involving various aspects of these systems has, to this time, prevented the widespread deployment and adoption of such systems. The automotive industry and its extensive use of sensor networks within vehicles is a notable exception to the implementation of this new and promising technology. However, in the automotive industries’ case, the economic barrier of geographically large networks does not come into play and, to a great extent, emissions and fuel efficiency regulations have been the driving force behind the adoption of this technology.
Mullett, G. (2010, June), Smart Grid, Cleantech, Sensor Networks Come Of Age Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16124
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015