Battelle Licenses Grid Friendly Appliance Controller

Battelle has granted a non-exclusive license for a technology that will help soften the blow for utilities during times of peak demand on the grid by temporarily shifting when smart appliances use power.

The Grid Friendly Appliance Controller chip can temporarily shift how smart appliances use power to soften the blow for utilities during times of peak demand on the grid. Battelle has licensed the GFAC to company Encryptor of Plano, TX.

Start-up technology firm Encryptor of Plano, TX, plans to incorporate Grid Friendly Appliance Controller technology, developed at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, into a new, low-cost electronic chip that can be easily built into appliances. Battelle operates PNNL for DOE.

"One of our missions as a national laboratory, in addition to conducting primary research, is to develop game changing technology and then transfer it to a useful purpose," said Cheryl Cejka, PNNL's director of technology commercialization.

"This technology has tremendous potential as a low-cost way of reducing stress on our nation's electricity system by making our everyday appliances better users of energy. We are very pleased that Encryptor's work will take it one step closer to market."

Encryptor plans to develop the technology within the next two to three years and then market it to appliance manufacturers as a highly capable, low-cost chip.

PNNL invented the controller with funding from DOE and Battelle patented it in 2008. The device senses conditions on the grid by monitoring the frequency and voltage of the system and provides automatic responses in times of power disruption or grid emergency.

Within the North American power grid, a disturbance of the nominal 60 Hertz frequency is an indicator of serious imbalance between supply and demand that, if unarrested, could lead to a blackout. This simple computer chip can be installed in household appliances and turn them off for a few minutes, or even a few seconds, to allow the grid to stabilize.

The controllers can be programmed to autonomously react in fractions of a second when a disturbance is detected, whereas power plants take minutes to respond. They can even be programmed to delay restart to prevent all of them coming on at once after a power outage.

For more information about the controller, visit PNNL's Available Technologies website.

Source: Pacifice Northwest National Lab