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Transforming the Grid from the Distribution System Out

July 25, 2014

Declining prices, coupled with tax incentives, are driving increased use of distributed energy resources. This creates a challenge for a traditional electrical transmission and distribution system that was not designed for flexible load tracking and large numbers of distributed energy resources. The authors propose a new dynamic distribution system that has the responsibility of tracking load fluctuations, firming intermittent renewables and providing a distribution-level marketplace.

This is the "smart switch" for the research microgrid at the Wisconsin Energy Institute. It can automatically isolate the microgrid from the main grid. Photo by Matt Wisniewski/WEI.

July 23, 2014

When Hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012, most of lower Manhattan went dark, and it was almost two weeks before most of the power was restored. But in one building in Greenwich Village, the lights stayed on and the heat kept working (and the building’s population doubled). That’s because, as University of Wisconsin engineering professor Thomas Jahns explained, that building had “its own miniature version of a utility grid”: a microgrid.

Sage Kokjohn, left, and Rolf Reitz check a room with test monitors and air regulators that are connected to an operating, one-cylinder diesel engine in the Caterpillar Engine Lab at the Engineering Research Building.  Photo: Jeff Miller

July 16, 2014

The one-cylinder test engine in the basement of a University of Wisconsin-Madison lab is connected to a life-support system of pipes, tubes, ducts and cables. You might think that the engine resembles a patient in intensive care, but in this case, the patient is not sick.

Instead, the elaborate monitoring system shows that the engine can convert 59.5 percent of the chemical energy in its fuel into motion — significantly better than the 52 percent maximum in modern diesel truck engines.

Bioenergy Institute for Educators Attendees

July 15, 2014

The week of June 16 marked the annual Bioenergy Institute for Educators program at the Wisconsin Energy Institute. Hosted by the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center’s (GLBRC) education and outreach staff, the Institute welcomed educators to learn about the latest bioenergy breakthroughs and how to bring contemporary energy content into their classrooms.

July 15, 2014

The one-cylinder test engine in the basement of a University of Wisconsin-Madison lab is connected to a life-support system of pipes, tubes, ducts and cables. You might think that the engine resembles a patient in intensive care, but in this case, the patient is not sick. Instead, the elaborate monitoring system shows that the engine can convert 59.5 percent of the chemical energy in its fuel into motion — significantly better than the 52 percent maximum in modern diesel truck engines.

Chris Hittinger

July 14, 2014

A University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher, well known for his work studying yeast fermentation, has been named a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Chris Hittinger, professor of genetics, is one of 22 of the latest early-career scientists to receive the honor. He joins the ranks of 500 Pew Scholars recognized since 1985, many of whom are Nobel Prize winners, Lasker Award recipients and MacArthur Fellows.

June 30, 2014

A majority of the world's population now lives in cities, which consume 75 percent of the world's resources and emit most of its greenhouse gases. The United Nations estimates that by 2050, an additional three billion people will move into these dense, resource-intense urban environments. 

“Projecting from current trends, you realize that we should have a plan for how this change unfolds,” says Mike Corradini, director of the Wisconsin Energy Institute and professor of engineering physics. 

VitaCycle Prototype - Photo Credit Artem Balashov

June 24, 2014

An intercollegiate team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Purdue University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently won a competition to bring their urban agriculture project to Expo 2017 – known stateside as the World’s Fair – in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Kewaunee closing makes Wisconsin's task to meet EPA rules tougher

June 14, 2014

In meeting federal requirements to cut power plant emissions linked to global warming, Wisconsin's task was made much tougher by the closing last year of the Kewaunee nuclear power plant.

When the Kewaunee plant was shuttered in May 2013, Wisconsin lost roughly 5% of its power supply. But more importantly, the state lost an even bigger share of the power generation sources that produce no greenhouse gas emissions.

JCI Advanced Systems Test Lab Opening

June 02, 2014

On May 5, 2014, the Wisconsin Energy Institute (WEI) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison unveiled its newest laboratory. UW researchers will use the Advanced Systems Test Lab, which features equipment donated by Johnson Controls, to collaborate with industry scientists in developing the future of energy storage technology and vehicle battery systems.

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