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...and marking CEED's 800th project


Student has designs on developing the smart home of the future


Imagine living in a home which requires no electricity from the grid.

You generate your electricity at home from solar PV, a fuel cell or other renewable resource and store it in a smart battery system.

You sell your excess electricity back to the grid when it is most valuable.

You ‘communicate’ with your house remotely to control your intelligent appliances.

You are part of the future of the electricity grid. You live in a Smart Home.

RedFlow is contributing their innovative Zinc-Bromine flow battery technology to two projects with these aims in mind. AusGrid (formerly Energy Australia) is trialling Smart Home technologies including RedFlow’s smart battery systems.

Miss Mio Nakatsuji-Mather, a fourth year double degree student in Electrical Engineering and Arts from UQ, was chosen to work with RedFlow, on these projects over the summer vacation period and 1st semester 2011, via CEED. 

Mio's project at RedFlow is also a milestone for CEED - it is the 800th project for the program!

RedFlow.Mio Nakatsuji-Mather with a zinc-bromide battery module 
 Mio Nakatsuji-Mather (CEED student) with
 Bruce Ebzery (RedFlow) and a couple of the company's
 Zinc-Bromine battery modules

Mio will focus on the “Smart Home” located in Newington, Sydney NSW; and then later, AusGrid’s Smart Grid Smart City project involving the deployment of 60 battery system’s similar to the Newington trial.

The success of Mio’s project will be based on satisfying two key objectives:

- Evaluate the effect of utilising Zinc-Bromine Battery modules (ZBM) and remote control systems in the reduction of peak energy usage in homes

- Evaluate the compatibility of ZBM with residential embedded energy generation (for example, solar photovoltaic (PV) cells)
At the “Smart Home” in Newington, a hybrid lead-acid and ZBM has already been installed in the electricity system (as part of Ausgrid’s research).  The Smart Home utilises smart appliances and a Home Area Network (HAN) which enables two-way communication and remote control of appliances.  The home also has solar PV cells and a Blue Gen fuel cell installed to generate the bulk of its electricity locally. 

Energy storage supplied by RedFlow’s ZBM allows ‘time-shifting’ of the electricity generated, to smooth the peaks and troughs in the household’s power demand ‘load’.  One of the aims of the Smart Home trial is that excess electricity generated can be exported back to the grid.

Mio is the primary contact with the AusGrid engineers who are operating the Smart Home. Her part of the overall project will focus on managing the operation of the ZBM battery and investigating the way data is gathered from the Smart Home.  Some unexplained discrepancies have been identified between the data and the real power and energy usage of the household.  Mio co-ordinated the installation of extra measurement points in the house, leading to changes in the existing electrical layout. 

She will also investigate the ways in which data is gathered and analysed to ensure no errors are being made.  Following this, Mio will look at the ways in which the batteries are utilised, both as a standalone system and in conjunction with other sub-systems – so they can be optimised for efficiency.  Mio will be able to do most of her work remotely via a web interface, but has also made a site visit, to consolidate her knowledge.

Mio expects that similar work will also be needed in order to gain effective results from the 60 unit Smart Grid Smart City (SGSC) trial beginning in April of 2011. 

 Mio (CEED student) onsite at RedFlow, during her project in 2011
 Mio believes her CEED project at RedFlow is helping to
 make her a better Engineer

Mio’s undergraduate thesis will thus be focussed on systems containing ZBM produced by RedFlow, whether they are hybrid or purely Zinc-Bromine.  She will only consider Australian residential applications in her evaluation.

By the end of the project, RedFlow is expecting Mio to set-up both the Smart Home and SGSC projects so that all the project stakeholders receive accurate monthly reports of the data gathered and analysed at each house.

Chris Winter, General Manager, RedFlow commented on the benefits of Mio’s project, “we are a rapidly growing company developing cutting edge solutions that will help define the future of the electricity industry. Mio has been given carriage of our technical relationship with AusGrid’s engineers and has performed this task very well, while providing real value to RedFlow”, he said.

The final stage of Mio’s project (which finishes in June) will be to analyse the data gathered, in order to evaluate three areas: 

  • The contribution that a ZBM makes to the reduction of peak demand of a typical household, and how this can most appropriately be maximised
  • The compatibility of the ZBM with types of embedded generation (such as solar PV cells), and how appropriate, as well as how best to improve, their use in future applications
  • The most suitable size of battery to use in such residential applications

The families living in the Smart Home and the SGSC project houses will benefit from Mio’s research and the evaluation for RedFlow.  Each family will end up with lower energy costs and smarter homes.

Mio believes her CEED project is helping her become a better Engineer.  She recently commented, “the project has been really enjoyable and rewarding. I have learnt so much from everyone at RedFlow, and I find this new battery technology very interesting.  I have had to learn a lot during my time so far, and while this has been difficult at times, it has most definitely made me a better engineer.  I’ve learnt many things that you simply cannot learn in a classroom.  This project has not only given me extra invaluable experience, but I am sure it will also help me when I find employment after I graduate.”

With successful projects like this one at RedFlow, it won't be long before CEED celebrates its 1,000th project.

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