Our team specializes in solving challenges in complex systems engineering using simulations and the development of prototypic hardware and software for demonstrating end-to-end functionality. Our expertise is in three areas – advancing sensing and actuation technologies for improving the observability and controllability of systems, novel communication and networking technologies for improving connectivity, and innovative simulation-driven development of automation technologies. Our applications of interest span a diverse range of topics including electric power, energy efficient buildings, large scale renewable energy, urban dynamics, biomedical systems, and cybersecurity.
One of the main projects for this team is to develop and demonstrate dynamic building load control to facilitate high penetration of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation. Our goal is to develop affordable, retrofit control technologies (software and hardware) that enable loads to be actively and automatically managed to support power system stability while reducing energy costs for the building owner. We achieve this by developing sensing and control mechanisms for using loads to mitigate the variable PV generation thus reducing two-way power flow and mitigating voltage instability on distribution level circuits. The technical approach centers around coordinated activation of electrical loads that perform adequately without the addition of sensors beyond those already present in installed equipment, and that can be incrementally improved by adding sensors as new, low cost sensing technology becomes available. The availability of this technology will enable increased penetration of renewables while mitigating challenges arising due to their intermittency in generation using flexibility on load side. The project will perform scalability analysis of the techniques developed using utility-scale distribution simulation of necessary electric, control, and communication infrastructure.