Are We Ready for the Power Grid Revolution?

Paul G. Rasmussen
Arthur F. Thurnau Professor
Univ. of Michigan Depts. of Chemistry & Macromolecular Science & Engineering

Johnson Rooms, Lurie Engineering Bldg, Univ of Michigan, North Campus.
Noon, October 4, 2018

What are AC and DC and why does it matter? We will trace a bit of history of Edison, Tesla, and the battle of the currents. We will show that this history still resonates into the modern era of energy transfer as it affects everything from cellphones to car batteries to LED’s to photovoltaic panels to the household power system. Where does the energy in our power grid come from? We will look at how generation, transmission and distribution have developed over the past hundred years and the revolutionary changes that are in progress.

Most states have initiatives to increase renewable resources into their distribution system which will make them more dynamic and interactive. They are looking into how to roll out Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) such as solar, storage, plug-in vehicles, demand response and any other resources that are behind the meter, in the most efficient way possible. We will give a local example of how much energy solar panels can provide in Michigan and describe how, in the coming years, plug-in electric vehicles and distributed power will evolve into the Smartgrid.

In the past history of the grid, no one has seriously contemplated storing grid level quantities of electrical energy. However, the DER grid of the future with its dependence on solar and wind power, will need storage. A special kind of battery called the Redox Flow Battery is being investigated to meet this need. We will describe this progress towards grid-level storage.

Paul G. Rasmussen is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor Emeritus of the University of Michigan Department of Chemistry and the Macromolecular Science and Engineering program. He was Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Literature Science and Arts and his research experience includes synthesis and experimental characterization of polymers and electrochemical energy conversion systems. After retiring from teaching at UM he worked for several years with the Levi Thompson group in Chemical Engineering. He was a senior engineer at the China Lake Naval Base working on materials for super-capacitors. He is founder and president of Vinazene Inc., a Michigan corporation. His company has had over a $1M in grants from DOE and NSF for research on flow batteries and supercapacitors. He has engaged in contract and grant work with numerous corporations, including GM, Ford, Amoco, and Pharmacia Biotech. Dr. Rasmussen has numerous papers and patents in the fields of synthesis, polymer characterization and electrochemistry. He taught a course entitled “Cars, Energy & Chemistry” in the Program in the Environment, and has been active in promoting alternative energy resources.

The video of the meeting is below:

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