Research by an Iowa State University engineer could make it a lot easier to track down outages along miles of power lines. I-S-U Engineering and Computer Science Professor Arun Somani says one of the few options to find a downed electric wire is to go look for it in person.
Workers drive along the highway to see what’s going on, and it takes a long time to detect the problem before they can fix anything, or send out a service crew. While there are some electrical testing systems too, they can’t report a problem as soon as it happens, and are less comprehensive than the system the professor’s testing in his lab today.
The system of “black boxes” he envisions could monitor the whole system at once. Monitors will be placed on utility poles and will communicate with each other and the home office by wireless technology.
Somani describes it as “health monitoring” of the entire power system. He says the utility industry’s been needing a system like this, and he thinks there will be applications in urban areas as well as the large remote areas the wires cross in a rural state like Iowa.