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RESEARCH REVIEW

Argonne Charges Ahead with Smart Grid Research

That is why the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is analyzing how the power grid can be redesigned to better meet America’s energy needs. A multidisciplinary mix of scientists and engineers from Argonne National Laboratory is working to help develop a “smart grid” that will not only adapt in real- time to handle larger electricity loads, but also operate more efficiently and reliably than the existing grid.

Argonne transportation engineers are working to develop suitable standards for PHEVs and EVs, enabling cost-effective and smart interaction with the grid. For example, Bohn sits on the international committee working to develop the Society of Automotive Engineers’ new connection standard called J-1772. The group is defining this standard, so manufacturers can build compatible connectors and vehicle sockets that will support both charging and two-way communication.

The smart grid will move our country’s electrical grid into the digital age. By integrating real-time, two-way communication technologies into the power grid, the nation will have a more robust and efficient system that empowers consumers to “talk” to the grid to choose where their electricity comes from and when they want it delivered.

Transportation researchers are also validating some of the communications technologies that are being proposed to communicate between the vehicle’s smart charger and the electrical infrastructure smart meters.

In December 2009, Bohn and Keith Hardy represented Argonne at the Bright Green Expo in Copenhagen, Denmark. They were on hand to discuss the efforts of DOE and Argonne to help facilitate the interaction of PHEVs and EVs with an updated smart grid.

President Barack Obama has called for one million plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) to hit the road by 2015. Subsidies encouraging both PHEVs and electric vehicles (EVs) support this goal. If the combined demand for these vehicles skyrockets, utilities’ power networks could be strained to the limit, requiring upgrades.

“The smart grid doesn’t propose to revolutionize the way we do power,” said Ted Bohn, an electrical engineer at Argonne’s Center for Transportation Research. “It’s just about doing the same things more efficiently—smarter.”

Plugging Away with Electrified Vehicles

To help visitors grasp the big picture, Bohn and Hardy brought along an interactive demonstration created by Argonne that illustrates the possible relationships between the nation’s energy supplies, electric power grid operators and utilities, vehicles and consumers.

Using Argonne’s interactive demonstration, engineer Ted Bohn demonstrates how the Smart Grid can play a role in lessening our country’s dependence on foreign oil. The demo shows the possible relationships between energy supplies, operators and utilities, PHEVs and consumers.

The Argonne display features a mock-up of the J-1772 standard for connectors being developed for plug-in vehicles.

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Summer 2010

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