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Posted Mon Mar 30 2009: from US News and World Report:
6 Scientists on the Cutting Edge of Energy and Environmental Research
Donald J. Hammerstrom envisions a day when every electrical appliance is wise to what's happening on the far side of the wall socket. The inexpensive device he and his Pacific Northwest National Laboratory colleagues in Richland, Wash., have developed, dubbed the Grid Friendly Appliance Controller, is designed to reduce reliance on backup generators and prevent power outages that can occur when the electrical grid suffers momentary capacity problems. The controller, which he says could be built into a water heater, clothes dryer, or other energy-hungry appliance for $5 or less, recognizes when telltale fluctuations in the current flowing through the socket indicate that the grid is straining to meet demand. The controller's response: briefly scale back the appliance's electricity use. That move, if multiplied by many appliances in thousands of homes and buildings, would be enough to relieve the strain on the grid, potentially averting a blackout. The grid would also need less 24-7 standby capacity (read, wastefully idling generators) to buffer the occasional unexpected fluctuation in electrical supply or demand.
[Read more stories about: climate impacts, efficiency increase, sustainability, technical cleverness, technological innovation]

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HarryP says: "cool story! there's even a segment on termites and biofuels! plus some great advances in solar..."

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'Doc Michael says:
It better not know everything going on, on the far side of that wall socket!

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