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Robertazzi, Wang, and Skiena Receive Patent Related to Power Distribution Systems

Prof. Tom RobertazziProfessor Tom Robertazzi

This summer Prof. Tom Robertazzi, ex-ECE PhD student Kai Wang and Prof. Steve Skiena of the Computer Science Dept. have been awarded a US patent (number 9,728,971) for an elegant procedure to balance the phases of electric power distribution systems.   What is the phase balancing problem?  Most local distribution of electric power uses three wires (phases).  For the most efficient operation of a so-called three phase power systems each phase should have an equal amount of load connected to it.  But which customer loads should be connected to which wire to accomplish this?  The problem in general is mathematically intractable.  The multi-disciplinary patent describes the clever use of an optimization method called dynamic programming to solve the problem in an efficient manner.   The patented procedure in fact allows the line to be balanced along its entire length, not just at the end.  The use of the procedure will allow utilities to reduce costs through the use of efficiently computed well balanced electric power lines. 

This work was supported by the Dept. of Energy with the Long Island Power Authority through a multi-faculty grant to the university from 2010 through 2015.