MAE Seminar: Prabir Barooah, Control techniques for a sustainable energy future with renewable energy and energy efficiency


4:00 pm-5:00 pm
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303 MAE-A
939 Sweetwater Drive
Gainesville, FL 32611-6250


Control techniques for a sustainable energy future
with renewable energy and energy efficiency

Prabir Barooah
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 – 6250

A sustainable energy future rests on the twin pillars of (1) renewable energy and (2) energy efficiency. Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind are intermittent: their generation is uncertain and time-varying. Inexpensive energy storage technologies are required to ensure a reliable electricity supply in the face of such intermittency. An alternative to expensive batteries is “smart loads”. With appropriate control algorithms, the power consumption of air conditioning — and many other loads — can be varied around a baseline. This variation is analogous to the charging and discharging of a battery. Air conditioners and water heaters equipped with such intelligence have the potential to provide a vast and inexpensive source of energy storage: a giant, cheap battery. At the same time, there is an increasingly urgent need to reduce the energy consumption of buildings as well, since they account for 73% of electricity consumption and 34% of CO2 emissions nationwide.

This talk describes the technologies we are developing to reduce energy use as well as to provide virtual energy storage from various loads. The focus of the talk is on the virtual energy storage from air conditioning loads. The key question we address is: how to coordinate millions of buildings to create a giant virtual battery, so that it provides a robust and predictable service to the power grid with minimal communication and computation, while at the same time maintaining building occupants’ quality of service?

Prabir Barooah is an Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Florida, where he has been since 2007. He received the Ph.D. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2007 from the University of California, Santa Barbara. From 1999 to 2002 he was a research engineer at United Technologies Research Center, East Hartford, CT. He received the M. S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Delaware in 1999 and the B. Tech. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, in 1996. Dr. Barooah is the winner of Endeavour Executive Fellowship (2016) from the Australian Government, ASEE-SE (American Society of Engineering Education, South East Section) outstanding researcher award (2012), NSF CAREER award (2010), General Chairs’ Recognition Award for Interactive papers at the 48th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control (2009), best paper award at the 2nd Int. Conf. on Intelligent Sensing and Information Processing (2005), and NASA group achievement award (2003).


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