Today in the energy industry we have a conundrum. We want to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels because they are dirty and we want to increase our reliance on Renewables because they are clean. This concept seems very simple. Why aren’t we doing it?
The U.S. Electrical Grid simply can’t handle it.
For clarity, the definition of Grid is every wire connected from Generation whether from coal, natural gas, nuclear, or renewables, all transmission and distribution lines and components and substations, and including all of the wiring and loads in our homes and businesses. The full route that electricity travels, Generation to End Use.
This is an enormously large and complex system with innumerable variables. Across our grid today, we experience power disturbances daily. Temporary disruptions are frequent at the grid level creating brownouts and blackouts, fuses are tripped and facility operations are disrupted at the local level. Everybody has been affected thousands of times by power disturbances in their lifetime, likely more. That is in America with the most sophisticated and advanced electrical grid in the world.
Look at some basics; transients or surges. They occur for many reasons, a generator starts, a transformer explodes, lightnings strikes and so on. They are basically ripples that travel through the wires of the electrical system. If you can imagine a placid lake. When you throw a rock into the middle of it, those ripples reach all the way to the edge of the lake no matter how far the distance. Similarly in electrical networks, when transients occur they ripple through the entire electrical network.
Transients are problems grid wide, from generation through end use. Think about it. We must have surge protection to protect our computers and other equipment because these transients can freely travel into our homes and businesses and potentially destroy our equipment. We cannot stop these electrical surges from entering our homes and businesses.
It’s not just in our homes and businesses, we cannot effectively and efficiently stop transients at the grid level either. Transients travel at the grid level exploding transformers and other infrastructure causing power disruptions and cascading failures.
These transients are occurring in different electrical environments, at different voltages, but they are the same phenomenon, acting the exact same way. Electricity acts the same way in every situation. It is a constant, electrical environments are different and varied.
So if electricity acts in a constant way, why can’t we efficiently generate, transmit, store, and use it? Why are we stuck using technology that does not come close to ideal electrical efficiency?
Let’s take a look at a common electrical problem throughout the Grid, phase shifting between Current and Voltage. Ideally, these two waveforms are perfectly synchronized, crossing the 0 axis at the same time.
Natural forces within electricity are constantly pulling the waveforms apart. This is called being out of phase. Discharging a capacitor injects current into the electrical system and temporarily shifts the Current waveform. We have been using this method since it was discovered. This method of “switching” which is omnipresent in the grid, is crude, inaccurate and wasteful.
Imagine if you have a room with a light. In this room, it is very important that you have clean, smooth, and consistent light. Only there is a caveat, you must turn the light switch on and off as fast as you can. Will you ever achieve that clean, smooth, and consistent light that you require? No. Even if you develop technology to electrically switch on and off like a strobe light, you will never achieve your goal. It is impossible.
This is an excellent representation of the impossibility of achieving ideal electrical efficiency using switching technology. It is impossible, yet nearly every energy technology uses this method. This path can only allow for incremental improvements in efficiency and will never achieve ideal.
Aside from switching technologies, there is an even bigger problem in the energy industry. A problem that spans the globe and is present in every laboratory, school, business, home, and in every location that electricity exists, RMS values.
If you are familiar with electricity in any way, you are familiar with RMS values. RMS values are the basic measurements used in electricity. RMS stands for Root Mean Squared. In other words, it is an average. We use average values because electricity moves so fast, that we have not ever been able to acquire exact data from Current and Voltage. We acquire what we can and average it together to determine the values that we universally accept.
Can you imagine if your bank used averages to determine how much money was in your accounts instead of using exact pennies?
In a given second, RMS values acquire at most 6000 values and from that data, we determine how much correction is needed, how much power is used, and pretty much everything related to electricity. It is the standard accepted measurement method for electricity but it certainly is not a precise method.
This is the current state of the energy industry. It is built on technology that uses imprecise data.
Is there a better methodology than RMS?
The frequency of our Grid is 60Hz, which means that there are 60 complete sinewaves every second. If RMS values acquire 6000 values every second, that averages out to 100 data points per sinewave, or roughly one data point every .17 milliseconds which in human time, sounds exceedingly fast. The truth is though, collecting one data point every .17 milliseconds does not provide high enough data quality to effectively correct the distortions.
The distortions that are present in electricity, like the phase shifting and transients need to be corrected at the microsecond and nanosecond level. Without them being corrected, we would not be able to use electricity. It got us thinking. How can you correct what you cannot measure?
Electricity moves rapidly through the wires. It is literally lightning fast. The RMS methodology working at the millisecond time is not close to the real time data required.
How can we know how far the phase must be shifted if we do not have a true base value?
This is a problem. It turns out, this is an enormous problem. With electricity, everywhere that the Current and Voltage waveforms are not perfectly synchronous is waste. Waste in an electrical network appears as heat like on the backs of televisions or on motors, or vibrations like in a transformer or fluorescent ballast or even sparks in extreme situations.
The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory along with the Energy Information Administration shows that we lose a whopping 67% of the electricity that we generate in the United States. Think about that. Our grid uses ⅔ of the electricity that it generates to supply us with the remaining ⅓. If Current and Voltage were completely synchronized from generation through end use, more than half of this 67% would be saved, prevented from becoming heat or vibrations.
This was a challenge that our Research and Development group felt was a suitable task to work on and this was a challenge that was met.
Energy Efficiency Discovery
In researching this problem, we made a discovery that changed everything. We discovered a clever way to maintain Current and Voltage in synchronization in any electrical environment generation to end use. We have taken that discovery and applied it to a broadly applicable technology using an innovative combination of power electronics, computer electronics, and machine learning software. It is the most advanced energy technology in over 120 years and will be the catalyst for an energy technology revolution that will ultimately result in the smooth transition from fossil fuel derived electricity to renewables for the entire planet and allow us to control our energy destiny through software control of electricity.
It starts with data acquisition. In comparison to the RMS methodology of 6000 values a second, the 3DFS Software-defined Power System acquires and processes a staggering 294 Million values every second rendering RMS values obsolete. As a fully digital system, all of the data is able to be processed and disaggregated in real time as well.
Think about it. Totally waste free electricity. Maximum electrical efficiency and power density at all times. This is an achievement that has been sought after since Tesla’s time.
New Platform Energy Technology
This technology changes the game. But what exactly does it mean to synchronize Current and Voltage? Think big here. Really big. The U.S. Grid is the largest interconnected machine on earth big. All of the sections of our Grid would work much differently if they had synchronized electricity and full data and verification.
Renewable Energy no longer need inverters or converters to switch from DC power to AC power and would significantly increase their production.
Batteries will no longer overheat because they can be intelligently filled and will last much longer with maximum power density.
Motors and compressors will no longer gallop when turned on and will startup with ideal electrical efficiency every time.
Transients, no matter how large can be used and redirected in microseconds providing full facility surge protection and preventing cascading failures in the grid.
Microgrids can be created without regard to the power source or loads and will work in harmony.
Every device plugged into a building can be identified, tracked, and logged for a detailed real time digital picture of the entire electrical network.
Profiles of each load in an electrical network can be built and examined over time for patterns of behaviors and predictive analytics.
Imagine a future where electric cars get 10x or 20x the distance they currently get.
Our homes and most of our businesses becoming net zero energy
Renewables being profitable without subsidies
Fossil Fuels derived electricity having a feasible exit from our energy portfolio
We refer to this technology as Software-defined Power. We are the first to achieve this capability and are excited to share the sense of wonderment that we felt upon our discovery. This discovery is just the beginning of what will be an amazing energy future for our planet.
Please help us spread the word that there is a viable option for our energy independence that remains within our borders.