Power to the People

New York City and much of the northeast plunged into utter darkness during the August 2003 blackout. Experts now say the aging power grid is to blame, but the Center for Advanced Power Systems at FSU is developing a solution using a real-time digital simulator.

Dr. Peter McLaren, the center director, says, "So our simulator here is one of the tools we can now use to run large, prolonged simulations on grid systems and hope to understand the system a little bit better. Once we understand it, then we can design the proper controls to run it."

The simulator will allow engineers to test a new power grid without tinkering with the one presently in place. The solution is likely to involve superconducting materials that transfer power with near 100 percent efficiency. Similar technology is being used in the development of all-electric ships for the Navy.

Dr. Steinart Dale says, "The reason for that is that you can utilize the energy considerably more efficiently. When you go electric, you can use it for propulsion. We are testing a prototype propulsion motor here, and then you will be able to use electromagnetic weapons."

This technology will facilitate increased power demands for the new digital economy and enhance our national defense, too.