Prabir Barooah joined the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, in July 2022. Previously he was a Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, USA. He received his Ph.D. in 2007 from the University of California, Santa Barbara. From 1999 to 2002 he was a research engineer at United Technologies Research Center, East Hartford, CT. He received the M. S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Delaware in 1999 and the B.Tech degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, in 1996. Dr. Barooah has won the Outstanding Researcher Award (2013) from American Society of Engineering Education (SE Section), CAREER award (2010) from the National Science Foudation (USA), General Chairs' Recognition Award for Interactive papers at the 48th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control (2009), the best paper award at the 2nd Int. Conf. on Intelligent Sensing and Information Processing (2005), and a NASA group achievement award (2003).
The power grid is a large interconnected system, and is increasing in complexity every day. Apart from the thousands of conventional generators, millions of smaller energy resources - solar panels, batteries, EVs, smart consumer loads - have to be controlled to ensure stable and reliable operation. The control action for each of these agents must be locally computed. How do you design control algorithms for a large networked systems with provable performance guarantee?
Buildings and their air conditioning systems consume enormous amount of energy, especially electricity, and thus are a major source of CO2 emissions. We are developing control algorithms to fix this problem: the algorithms will continuously change setpoints of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to reduce energy use while improving indoor climate.
Due to the thermal inertia of buildings, the electricity demand of their HVAC systems can be varied within limits without affecting their indoor climate. From the point of view of the power grid, this variation is the same as the charging and discharging of a battery. The same game can be played with almost every electric load. The resulting VES (virtual energy storage) potential of all these loads is huge. It is also a lot cheaper than a real battery of the same size.