Led by Dr. Ganesh Kumar Venayagamoorthy, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, the researchers will use living neural networks composed of thousands of brain cells from laboratory rats to control simulated power grids in the lab. From those studies, the researchers hope to create a "biologically inspired" computer program to manage and control complex power grids in Mexico, Brazil, Nigeria and elsewhere.
"We want to develop a totally new architecture than what exists today," says Venayagamoorthy, who also directs the Real-Time Power and Intelligent Systems Laboratory at Missouri S&T. "Power systems control is very complex, and the brain is a very flexible, very adaptable network. The brain is really good at handling uncertainties."
Through this research, Venayagamoorthy and his colleagues hope to develop what he calls BIANNs, or biologically inspired artificial neural networks. Based on the brain's adaptability, these networks could control not only power systems, but also other complex systems, such as traffic-control systems or global financial networks.
The Georgia Tech researchers, led by Potter, have developed living neural networks that can control simple robots, but this will be the first time anyone has attempted to tap the brain power to control more complex systems.
After testing the system in simulated environments, the researchers will then test them in actual power grids in Mexico, Brazil, China, Nigeria, Singapore and South Africa. One goal of the project is to develop a system that can be implemented in the "future intelligent power grid," says Venayagamoorthy. The researchers envision that grid integrating a variety of power sources, such as wind and solar farms, energy storage facilities, self-sustainable community or neighborhood micro-grids, and other non-traditional energy sources.
Oh great now look who's going to be in charge of my power grid: