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Professor Receives SCE Grant to Study Impact of Electrical Loads

Published: December 1, 2008

Hassan Mohamed-Nour, a professor of electrical engineering at CSULB, has received a $25,000 grant from Southern California Edison (SCE) to study the impact of present and potential future electrical loads on the quality and efficiency of power distribution.

This is the second grant Mohamed-Nour has received from SCE for this research, bringing the total to $50,000 over a two-year period. The newly funded project is titled “Impact of Current Harmonics and Voltage Distortions Introduced by Residential Non-Linear Loads.”

A growing number of electrical power customers are investing in solid state equipment such as flat screen TVs and computers, as well as fluorescent lights, to conserve energy. As the number of these items increases per household, the “noise” or harmonic distortion created on 60-cycle power lines may cause overheating or audible humming.

While this problem is not yet a major concern, the research collaboration between SCE and CSULB is shedding light on this issue by creating computer models that can help predict these power quality problems. Armed with this information, SCE can prepare for the time when filters or larger transformers, for instance, may be required to carry the electrical load and smooth out power distortion.

“This is a real world problem we’ve got, and it’s a growing issue,” noted Robert Yinger, a consulting engineer in the Engineering Advancement Department at SCE and a CSULB alumnus. “Our engineers who handle the design of that side of the electrical system are a bit concerned about this. They acknowledge that it’s not a huge problem today, but it may be going forward. The idea behind this project is to try and figure out when it’s going to be a problem and then hopefully in the future start looking at what some of the potential solutions might be.”

“Projects like this give the opportunity for a company to assist with the education of engineers at Cal State Long Beach and get to know students who could also be their future employees,” said Mohamed-Nour, who added that eight electrical engineering undergraduate and graduate students have worked on the project over the last two years.

SCE is the nation’s leader in renewable energy and is the largest electric utility in California, serving more than 13 million people in a 50,000 square-mile area of Central, Coastal and Southern California. Based in Rosemead, the utility has been providing electric service in the region for more than 120 years.