Transdisciplinary Areas of ExcellenceSmart Energy


Collaboration grant awards

The following three projects have been awarded funds in 2014, provided by the Binghamton University Road Map through the Provost's Office and the Division of Research with the goal of encouraging faculty to develop collaborative projects that stimulate the advancement of new ideas that can build Binghamton University's expertise toward a national center designation in the area of the smart energy. This competitive, peer-reviewed program is providing initial support for proposed long-term programs of collaborative research that have strong potential to attract external funding. 

  • Self-Sustaining Power Generation from a Bio-Solar Panel

Self-sustainable energy sources are essential for a wide array of wireless applications deployed in remote field locations. Due to their self-assembling and self-repairing properties, "Biological solar (bio-solar) cells" are recently gaining attention for those applications. The bio-solar cell can continuously generate electricity from microbial photosynthetic and respiratory activities under day-night cycles. Requiring only sunlight, water and carbon dioxide to operate, bio-solar cells offer advantages over potentially competing sustainable power sources such as microbial fuel cells or photovoltaic cells because the photosynthetic microorganisms used in bio-solar cells a) do not require an organic fuel, obviating the need for an active-feeding system, and b) are capable of producing power both day and at night. Despite the vast potential and promise of bio-solar cells, they, however, have not yet successfully translated into commercial applications, as they demonstrate persistent performance limits and scale-up bottlenecks. What is needed is twofold: a fundamental breakthrough in bio-solar cells that can maximize their power-generating capabilities, and an innovative strategy for scaling them up.

The overall objective of this proposed study is to create a proto-type scaleable biological solar panel by integrating significantly improved miniature bio-solar cells in an array. 

Principal investigators/departments: Seokheun Choi, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; Gretchen Mahler, Department of Bioengineering; and Charles Westgate, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

  • A Novel Statistical-Analytic Cloud Approach to Autonomous, Real-Time threat Detection in Modern SmartGrid Networks

This inter-disciplinary collaborative research initiative aims to develop a statistical-analytic cloud based auditing framework for the next generation integrated, end-to-end cybershield intended to provide reliability and security in the rapidly emerging Smart Grid domain. By symbiotically combining the state-of-the-art in statistical methodology for "on-the-go" anomaly detection in live-observed data with the forefront in contemporary cloud computing, the techniques developed in this project will enable complex Smart Grid networks to stay ahead of the threat and therefore operate reliably and securely. The salient feature of this research effort is the involvement of an industrial partner specializing in Smart Grid technology.

Principal investigators/departments: Yu Chen, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Aleksey Polunchenko, Department of Mathematical Sciences

  • Energy Harvesting from Mechanical Vibrations Using Nonlinear Resonators for Wireless Sensor Networks

Mechanical vibration present in the environment and transportation vehicles is an abundant source of energy that can be used to operate remote sensors to detect early signs of failure. In this project, a compact and high performance nonlinear resonator will be developed that can efficiently harvest energy from broadband ambient mechanical vibration below 100 Hz to make self-powered sensors. Using an optimized nonlinear resonator design made of a soft polymer material, the output frequency bandwidth can be widened up to 10 times, and the output power can be enhanced up to 3mW, which is three orders of magnitude larger compared to available linear energy harvesters. The energy harvester will be integrated with a power conditioning circuitry and a customized Wireless Sensor Network (WSN). The power conditioning circuitry consists of a supercapacitor that efficiently stores the energy to provide a reliable powering system at a constant voltage for the autonomous WSN. The WSN design will be changed to make it ultra-low power and compatible with the electric power generated by the vibration energy harvester. The results of this investigation can lead to an autonomous WSN that is energy efficient across all subsystems, from power generation to networking. WSNs powered by harvesting vibration energy can provide a major technological advancement in remote sensors.

Principal investigators/departments: Shahrzad Towfighian, Department of Mechanical Engineering; Yu Chen, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Alok Rastogi, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering


Last Updated: 6/16/14