GE Research awarded $5.8 million to develop super-fast DC circuit breaker

Feb 12, 2019
Tech
Posted by Patrick Haddad

GE Research announced that is has been awarded $5.8 MM in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) for a three-year project to develop and demonstrate a super-fast DC Circuit Breaker.

The new circuit breaker is part of a broader interest by ARPA-E to upgrade existing alternating current (AC) distribution grids and expand opportunities for congested areas to access remote clean energy sources to meet their future power needs.

“Many big urban cities today are facing higher electricity demands because of growing applications such as electric vehicle charging, with limited options for tapping into new energy sources,” said Timothy Sommerer, Principal Scientist at GE Research and Principal Investigator on the MVDC program.  “By upgrading existing AC distributions grids to MVDC grids, it would allow these cities to cast a much wider net in securing new clean renewable energy sources.”

Sommerer continued, “The new super-fast DC circuit breaker we’re developing is an essential component for enabling the distribution grid upgrade from AC to MVDC. Because DC doesn’t inherently contain natural breaks like AC that help manage faults, you need to have a switch with an extremely fast response time that can create these breaks. That’s exactly the challenge GE’s technology will address.”

“The development of DC grid technologies could vastly increase the flexibility utilities have in addressing future power needs,” Sommerer said. “Imagine the day when cities like New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles have the option of accessing electricity from multiple wind installations in the Midwest to meet electric vehicle charging needs.”

 

Source: GE Newsroom

Photo (for illustrative purposes): US Department of Energy Headquarters / US Department of Energy / Wikimedia / Public Domain

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