Automatic Outage Detection and Localization by Analysis of Interrogation Signals

Period of Performance: 06/12/2017 - 03/11/2018


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

621 S. Andreasen Dr Suite E
Escondido, CA 92029
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


Catastrophic natural events can damage the electrical power grid, resulting in outages that put public health and safety at risk. The U.S. Department of Energy is working to develop methods that will hasten restoration of electrical service and reduce these risks. Such methods will shorten the duration of power outages by providing enhanced capabilities for rapidly identifying damage, without exposing recovery personnel to risks from trying to perform damage assessment in areas that are not safely-accessible. By transmitting special signals from remote locations on the electrical grid and receiving them at the substation that provides electrical service to the transmission point, the electrical integrity of the grid can be analyzed and a schematic map showing the location of outages and other damage information can be immediately developed. Although an individual signal will appear on all cables and buses at the substation, a special method of identifying the exact cable over which a signal arrived has been invented. This method will be employed to build a new type of grid-surveillance system that will provide constant situational-awareness to the operating utility, regarding the status of the grid. The system will enable improved damage assessment, optimal decision-making and hastened restoration of electrical service to the public. In Phase I, design and implementation work will be conducted to build transmitter, receiver and processing equipment. Using the equipment, special signals will be transmitted over the grid and received at a substation. The received signals will be processed using the new method of deriving information that enables mapping of the grid, demonstrating the effectiveness of the approach. Prompt detection and localization of damage to the power grid are essential to informed decision-making and optimal deployment of resources, while also providing a means of communicating high-value information to field personnel and others, ensuring robust situational awareness and maximizing effectiveness of restorative operations. Other benefits, such as grid-stabilization, can be provided through this technology, by application to the management of distributed energy resources.