Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Energy Node Locator Platform Development: Using Real-Time Monitoring to Conserve Energy

EPA Grant Number: SU835523
Title: Energy Node Locator Platform Development: Using Real-Time Monitoring to Conserve Energy
Investigators: Alahmad, Mahmoud , Nguyen, Lim , Sharif, Hamid
Institution: University of Nebraska at Lincoln
EPA Project Officer: Levinson, Barbara
Project Period: August 15, 2013 through August 14, 2014
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2013) Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Built Environment , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability



This project addresses energy consumption and conservation in buildings using real-time monitoring at the outlet/node level.  This information is important because 30% of the primary energy in buildings is consumed by miscellaneous electrical loads (MELs).  Studies have shown that up to 35% of MEL loads can be saved.  In order to achieve these savings, however, monitoring, smart measurements, and tools at the node level are needed to better understand these loads.  Current energy monitoring technologies are unable to provide this information in real-time since such technologies require additional hardware (such as wireless sensors) to be implemented at each individual node resulting in solutions that are inefficient, costly, and impractical for supporting a complex system.  To address this challenge, a cross-disciplinary team will develop, design, and evaluate an energy node locater platform to remotely locate live energy consuming nodes in the electrical distribution system in buildings using the principles of Spread Spectrum Time Domain Reflectometry (SSTDR). The energy node locater is part of a comprehensive technology termed the Live Energy Finder (LeEF). LeEF is the first integrated hardware/software technology that can remotely monitor and locate every active energy node in the electrical distribution network in real-time without the need for sensors and monitoring devices to be placed at every electrical node.


Prototype boards with a replica of an electrical distribution system in buildings will be developed, designed and built to demonstrate this project and validate the proposed circuit-level-energy node locater.  The board will be equipped with multiple nodes with variable lengths to validate the SSTDR signals and validate the results. The prototype boards will be used to demonstrate the novelty of the energy node locater and its potential to provide fine grain energy consumption at the node level.

Expected Results:

Models and simulations for electrical systems in buildings; SSTDR models for adoption in the electrical system for real-time monitoring; Prototype boards to demonstrate the circuit level-energy node locater system; Educational components for the univerity and the community. 

Supplemental Keywords:

Smart buildings, energy conservation, energy recovery, monitoring resource consumption, sustainable infrastructure design, design for the environment, holistic design;