Electrical Power Monitoring – New Technologies and Applications
Dennis Erickson an IEEE Fellow came to a previous NI Week and showed how he used Virtual Instrumentation to monitor the transmission grid in the western half of the USA. He made significant use of the Gabor Spectrogram in his work.
EPRI, the Electrical Power Research Institute, is an independent, nonprofit center for public interest energy and environmental research, promotes the Intelligent Universal Transformer which replaces analog transformers with solid-state electronics which can help balance loads and provide better distribution capabilities to customers. In the area of emerging technology EPRI’s roadmap calls for smart materials and nanostructures among other things to enable its vision for the future of energy and its delivery.
Vista uses LabVIEW to capture power consumption from a facility say a building or an oil rig, store the results in a database and then applies analysis to the stored data to help optimize one’s consumption of power such as quantifying power usage during downtimes (weekends, holidays, etc). In many areas, customers have the choice of vendors in purchasing electrical power. With the knowledge gained from such a power monitoring system, a customer can choose to buy power from cheaper sources.
Elcom leverages the internet for power monitoring using virtual instrumentation tools. Their solution, PAQNet, consists of a set of nodes and bridges supported by LabVIEW for viewing power quality parameters over the internet. During their NI Week presentation they showed how they monitored power supply faults on a new high-speed train in their native country, Czech Republic. They setup a measurement system on the train to isolate the fault and compensate for it at the circuit level. This type of application seems to match those of the audience who were performing power monitoring applications on vehicles – navy ships, cars, buses, and airplanes. In particular, they were measuring the power load as the vehicle rolled through maneuvers under various conditions.
For those unfamiliar with Power Quality there’s a tutorial on the concepts, and the measurements. For those using virtual instrumentation there’s downloadable code as well. For a live application of a virtual instrumentation tool monitoring power check out this site. This represents the power consumption of the National Instruments facility, Mopac A building.