THE POWER GRID OF THE FUTURE
'In the future, everyone will have access to electricity,' said Vera Silva - and she would know. Silva is the chief technology officer for GE Power's Grid Solutions, and she's eager to share her thoughts on the grid of the future at the CIGREconference in Paris. The CIGRE conference is the world's biggest global power system event and is taking place from August 26 to August 31.
Silva's predictions:The grid of the future will be more sustainable and flexible, using an expanding network of traditional energy sources and renewables. We are going to see more microgrids - small-scale power networks operating independently of any larger grid - and a shift in how we transport electricity, including more high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission power lines, which can transmit electricity more efficiently than traditional alternating current lines. Plus, the grid of the future will need to be autonomous, with the ability to recalibrate itself in real time.
Read more insights on the future energy grid here.
POWER PLAY: DIRECT CURRENT STAGING A COMEBACK
Alternating current, or AC, is the standard for transmitting electricity around the globe. Direct current, or DC, never reached the same level of global implementation. But DC is now showing great promise. High-voltage direct current, or HVDC, is an efficient, readily available, increasingly affordable way to transmit power that is opening up opportunities in the renewables market.
AC/DC:Direct current has been gaining popularity for its ability to create a more stable grid. 'Alternating current oscillates at certain frequencies,' said GE Power's Rafael Bonchang, an HVDC expert. 'These frequencies can be different from grid to grid, and you cannot connect them unless you synchronize the frequencies first. You don't have this problem with DC, because it's direct, it's constant.' Not only can HVDC connect different sources of power, it can transmit power over long distances with smaller losses than AC.
Read more about HVDC technology here.
READING THE NERVE SIGNALS
Scientists at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and GE's Global Research Center are learning more about the state of the body's health by detecting and decoding subtle electrical signals on the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is a bundle of hundreds of thousands of nerve fibers that carry messages between the brain and the body's organs.
The researchers specifically wanted to see if it was possible to read signals to find whether the body has triggered an inflammatory response. They used machine-learning algorithms to sort electrical signals gathered from the vagus nerve and identified signals that correlated closely with cytokines, proteins that help regulate inflammation. By reading these signals, the team was able to 'predict' the presence of cytokines 83% of the time. 'That's a very high number in biology,' says Jeffrey Ashe, a principal engineer at GRC.
Read more about decoding the vagus nerve here.
COOLEST THINGS ON EARTH
1. Rapidly remove CO2
Scientists from Trent University in Canada found a way to rapidly create magnesite. Just 1 metric ton of naturally occurring magnesite can remove around half a ton of CO2 from the atmosphere.
2. Brain maps
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences created an intricate map of more than a billion brain cell connections to help shed light on how memories are formed and recalled.
3. Artificial retinas
Researchers from the University of Texas and Seoul National University came up with the world's first ultrathin artificial retinas. The scientists created flexible retinas using 2D materials, including graphene, gold and silicon nitrate. The device conforms to the size and shape of a natural retina without mechanically disturbing it.
Plus, radar replaces stethoscopes in this week's Coolest Things on Earth.
- QUOTE OF THE DAY -
'We're going to see a lot more climate events, extreme weather, storms and heat, which means there might be a need to develop new techniques to bring the system back online if it goes down.'
- Vera Silva, chief technology officer for GE Power's Grid Solutions
Quote: GE Reports. Image: GE.
Subscribe to The GE Brief here.