Scope

The Technical Committee draws researchers from both academia and industry working at the boundary of Energy/Power Systems and Control/Optimization Theory. The technical committee members are organized around four thrusts:

Nuclear Energy Generation

Nuclear fission and fusion are candidate sources of energy with sufficient energy density to supply the increasing world population with its steadily increasing energy demands. In both fission and fusion reactions, mass lost during the process appears as energy. In a fission reaction, a heavy nucleus splits apart into smaller nuclei. Fission, a mature technology powering present nuclear power reactors, is experiencing a renaissance. As safer power plants are pursued, fault detection, isolation and reconfiguration techniques may play a prominent role. In a fusion reaction, on the contrary, two light nuclei stick together to form a heavier nucleus. Like fission, fusion produces no air pollution or greenhouse gases, since the reaction product is helium. Unlike fission, fusion poses no risk of nuclear accident, no generation of high-level nuclear waste, and no generation of material for nuclear weapons. In addition, there is an abundant fuel supply. For approximately fifty years, researchers around the world have worked toward understanding how to control nuclear fusion. As more fundamental physics problems are solved, the fusion community is moving beyond the realm of physics research toward the production of fusion energy. The best example of this is the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a multibillion dollar device whose construction is the result of a cooperative effort by governments around the world, including the European Union, the Peopleƕs Republic of China, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Japan, India, and the United States. The ITER tokamak will confine a mixture of ionized isotopes of hydrogen, also known as plasma, at around 100 million degrees centigrade, fusing isotopes of hydrogen into helium and thereby producing energy. As a result, the need for solutions to many engineering problems, including controls, has become critical. A fusion reactor is a very complex, nonlinear, distributed-parameter plant with many and different sources of instabilities, so there are many extremely challenging control problems that must be solved before a fusion power system becomes a viable entity.

Fossil Energy Generation

Fossil fuels such as oil and coal are perfect means for energy storage, which makes them be widely used for electricity generation, heavy industries and transportation. Coal, for instance, is used to create almost half of all electricity generated in the United States. To take advantage of this traditional fuel resource while limiting its environmental impact is one of the biggest challenges currently faced by humanity. Recent work on static optimization of coal-based power plants has played a crucial role in improving overall efficiency. However, static optimization falls short in dealing with real-time scenario changes (i.e., cycling unit load, coal quality, firing system maintenance conditions, subsystem failures, plant aging, etc.). The increasing demands for clean, highly-efficient, coal-based power generation require the development of novel control system architectures that exploit high-performance control-oriented process models, optimize in real-time the overall power plant efficiency, and factor in environmental constraints.

Renewable Energy Generation

Renewable energy generated from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides and geothermal heat accounted for about 18% of global energy consumption (13% coming from traditional biomass, such as wood-burning) in 2006. This percentage is expected to keep growing as a smart grid capable of more flexibly integrating these sources of energy is developed. Some of these energy systems, such as wind energy systems (which is growing at the rate of 30% annually), heavily rely on active control. For instance, advanced control systems can contribute to decrease the cost of wind energy by optimally increasing the captured energy and to increase the component lifetimes by reducing structural loading. In addition, the construction of wind farms has raised awareness of the need to control the electrical interconnection of wind turbines as well as to control the power produced by individual turbines in order to minimize the negative effects of turbine aerodynamic interaction.

Energy Utilization

According to the United States Department of Energy, today's buildings consume more energy than any other sector of the US economy (over 70% of electricity and over 50% of natural gas), including transportation and industry. Consequently, the design, optimization and control of energy-efficient buildings can have a tremendous impact on energy saving and greenhouse gas emission reduction, tackling one of the most critical challenges facing society today: climate change and global warming. Buildings are complex, multi-scale in time and space, multi-physics and uncertain dynamic systems with wide varieties of disturbances, which makes its optimal control very challenging. Most heating ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, as well as lightning systems, employed today do not make use of state-of-the-art IT-technologies. Although over the past two decades many advanced controls concepts such as optimal, robust, adaptive, nonlinear, hybrid, fuzzy, and neural control have been theorized, developed and broadly implemented in other industries, the building control industry is yet to embrace these concepts. A combination of advanced distributed control schemes, smart sensing, communication and modern information technology can lead to an improvement in both indoor-climate comfort and energy efficiency. Advanced controls promise unprecedented levels of sensing and automated response to changes in the internal and external environment. The delivery of continuous, up-to-date information on building system and component performance will also enable more cost-effective equipment servicing and optimized building operation. Building owners and operators will see lower maintenance and operating costs, and building occupants will enjoy greater levels of comfort.