UCLA is partnering with the Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER) to develop new smart grid technologies. The ten year project is receiving funding from the United States Department of Energy and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
Rajit Gadh, director of UCLA's Smart Grid Energy Research Center (SMERC), explains, "UCLA is like a little city — Pasadena, Burbank and Glendale are not much bigger. With a city like UCLA, we can test our concepts very quickly, as well as conduct very interesting tests."
Gadh and his team from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science are developing and testing smart-grid technologies in a search for improved power infrastructure and reliability.
To that end, Gadh's team is using several campus buildings as the project’s lab an experimental lab to observe how wireless sensing and control systems can help create the smart grid. The researchers are retrofitting the buildings with sensors and smart meters they say can “gauge and adjust the amount of power needed in a room at a particular time of day and control appliances, lights, and heating and air-conditioning systems depending on energy pricing or power availability on the grid.”
The collaboration came about after the Korean government learned of Gadh's work with wireless smart-grid applications, specifically UCLA’s Wireless Internet Smart Grid (WINSmartGridTM)is a network platform that enables appliances such as plug-in electric vehicles, washers, dryers and air conditioners to be wirelessly monitored, connected, and controlled through a wireless communications framework.
Tae Hyun Yang, KIER's principal researcher on the UCLA project, says his organization “has a strong interest in energy-efficiency technology and R&D due to its importance in terms of energy savings and the reduction of carbon dioxide. Dr. Gadh came to our attention via Dr. Jung-in Choi, a Korean professor who had worked with Dr. Gadh for a year. In addition, KIER is well aware of the growing reputation of UCLA Engineering in this area of work."
Choi went to UCLA on sabbatical from Kyungwon University and read about Gadh's research in news articles.
Choi notes, "I think UCLA's Smart Grid Energy Research Center is one of the most active research institutes in the smart-grid field today. In particular I have been most interested in the open architecture platform for the smart grid — Dr. Gadh's WINSmartGridTM in particular. KIER needs an open architecture platform technology, and I thought a partnership between KIER and SMERC would be beneficial for both."