Research & Development on a New Switch for the Electric Power Grid
Wisconsin, like most states, is gradually increasing electric power generation from renewable sources. The arguments for decreasing coal burning, e.g. reduction of mercury in the Great Lakes and reduction of Greenhouse Gas generation, are compelling. Wind strength fluctuates in time and location. Often the best wind sites are distant from population centers. The fluctuation and separation of wind sources puts new demands on the electric power grid. Professor Lawler's group is a subcontractor of the General Electric Company under an ARPA-E project to develop a new type of plasma switch with a liquid cathode. Such switches are critically important for long distance grid transmission lines, e.g. the efficient very high voltage DC lines.