August 25, 2008

NSF funding to put brain cells on grid control

The National Science Foundation has awarded $2 million to a project that aims to literally tap brain cells to manage electrical grids. Managing electrical grids is becoming more difficult as more distributed, renewable energy sources come online.

The project, Neuroscience and Neural Networks for Engineering the Future Intelligent Electric Power Grid, will use living neural networks -- thousands of brain cells grown on networks of electrodes -- to control electric power grids. Controlling grids involves tracking and managing the constantly changing levels of supply and demand among thousands of energy producers and millions of energy users in real-time.

The work brings together Ganesh Kumar Venayagamoorthy's laboratory of power control researchers with Steve Potter's lab, which has developed living neural networks that control simple robots.

The researchers will use living neural networks with simulated power grids and then test them in grids in Mexico, Brazil, China, Nigeria, Singapore and South Africa. One goal of the project is to increase the amount of wind power that can be integrated into power grids.

Back to ERN August 25/September 1, 2008



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