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Multiphysics Simulation: An IEEE Spectrum Insert
Manager’s Guide

Upgrading the Nuts and Bolts of the Electrical Grid for a New Generation

Göran Eriksson
ABB AB Corporate Research Power Technologies
Västerås, Sweden

Lukas Graber, Mikael Steurer, and Tim Chiocchio
Center for Advanced Power Systems
Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL

Bruker Energy & Supercon Technologies
Billerica, MA

Migrating the electrical grid to a “smart grid” is usually discussed in terms of IT issues or embedded systems. Yet, just as important updating the “nuts and bolts” of the smart grid.

At ABB AB Corporate Research Power Technologies in Sweden, scientists are working to reduce line current and the resulting resistive loss in cables caused by the use of increased voltage in modern transmission systems. In designing and testing joints, terminations, and bushings for the systems, scientists depend on COMSOL Multiphysics to model the electromagnetic, thermal, and fluid phenomena. This allows them to optimize the prototypes prior to their construction, cutting costs and saving time.

Bruker Energy & Supercon Technologies (BEST), a developer and manufacturer of high-performance superconductor wire products and devices, and a team at the Center for Advanced Power Systems at Florida State University are also working to develop ways of protecting the grid infrastructure from fault currents caused by short circuits. Their collaboration is focused on improving BEST’s shielded iron core inductive fault current limiter (iSFCL).

Using COMSOL Multiphysics, they were able to couple a model of the power system with an electrical circuit. The team plans on using this model to perform tests in power hardware experiments, as well as to optimize the geometries and dimensions of superconducting fault current limiters.

The Smart Grid