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Smart grid one focus of Discovery Park workshop

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Electricity and the smart grid are topics for discussion over the next two days at Purdue.

The Cyber and Energy centers in Discovery Park, along with several colleges on the West Lafayette campus and Purdue University-Calumet, are hosting the workshop covering electricity systems.

Chemical Engineering professor Joe Pekny says special focus will be on the smart grid. He says that involves making computer technology available to consumers, so they may participate in the next generation electric grid.

“This is a topic that’s timely, because it allows you to put more renewable energy into the electric grid. It’s a way for consumers to maybe ultimately save money on their electric bill. It’s something that’s the subject of a lot of research and engagement work at Discovery Park and Purdue, in general.”

Pekny, who also serves as interim director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, says allowing more renewable energy into the equation is possible through wider use of computer technology.

“The reason why you need more computer control to do that is that when the wind blows, you have electricity, when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine, you don’t get wind or solar power,” he says. “This smart grid is a way to send signals when electricity is available and plentiful out to devices that can take advantage of it.”

Organizers want the workshop to lead to more research collaboration as well as identifying gaps and finding ways to address them.

Purdue alumnus John McDonald, who works for GE Digital Energy, delivers the Discovery Lecture to kick-off the event. His talk begins at 8:15 a.m. Wednesday.

Pekny says McDonald will talk about the future course of the smart grid.

“He’s very well-respected in the industry. He’s dealt with a lot of utilities. He understands the technology and he’s been involved with forming GE’s strategies,” he says. “We’re really interested in what he has to say, which will have a lot of influence in the way we undertake research at Purdue.”

McDonald’s talk is open to the public and takes place at the Burton D. Morgan Center at Discovery Park. More information about the workshop and talk is HERE.