There is a significant emerging trend in the world of energy, namely energy system decentralization. Nearly all energy was generated in large power stations and distributed across long distance high voltage transmission lines before dumping into local power distribution networks. These days, the supply system itself produces, stores, and maintains a small but growing portion.
Many decentralized energy resources— from grids to generators and electronic systems — which are gradually integrated and controlled by technology, are doing this. And as increasing numbers of vehicles and infrastructure are becoming electrified, more DERs will be available for use. The smooth running of distribution grids will become a more significant and more challenging task.
Although the power networks are challenging to digitize, most electrical infrastructure remain manual and firmly rooted in the 20th century. For instance, take the modest circuit breaker, the electrical equipment that links one to the national grid. In the case of failure or flood, this shuts down the current stream to an electric circuit to avoid crowded wires, sparks, and explosions.
When Thomas Edison stepped forward with the idea at the end of the 19th century, the basic design of the circuit breaker did not change dramatically. It is still an electromechanical mechanism that splits electrical connections manually and divides two wires. Moreover, there are static mechanical circuit breakers. One rated 30 amps is always available, and only 30 amps are handled. We are not ideal for the ever-changing and changing DERs world.
In January, a little North Carolinian company called Atom Power became the first to pass the necessary tests to bring it to the market: a digital circuit breaker in the state. For years the company has been looking for better solutions.
First, the semiconductor is 6-10 times smaller so that products can imitate the size and form of traditional breakers and panels. Second, as opposed to mechanical switches, its output decreases with the decrease in voltage, in particular at high voltages. Third, the material is far more resistant to flaws than silicone at high temperatures, enabling the Underwriters Laboratories to carry out rigorous tests. (UL, the federal government has agreed to establish safety standards for many consumer products in the United States and Canada by its consumer safety laboratory.
Material science and computing power have made sufficient progress in recent years to allow Atom to put a device in each breaker. Everyone has their software, a unique network identification, and a tiny e-ink screen of their system.
This post was originally published on Food and Beverage Herald