Australian IT research body NICTA will bring together the world's leading computer scientists to develop multi-fuel electricity generation systems with Los Alamos Laboratory.
The research and development effort will attempt to connect and manage electricity and natural gas supplies on a share platform.
The work will take place under a twelve-month Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between NICTA and Los Alamos National Laboratory, announced today.
Under the agreement, funded jointly by US Department of Energy and NICTA, Los Alamos is tasked to build model reduction methods for coupled power grid and natural gas systems.
NICTA’s role is to build a standalone software module for modelling and optimising joint gas and electricity network design and operation.
Together, they will use their respective capabilities to build a new algorithm for optimal design of coupled gas and electricity networks.
NICTA chief executive, Hugh Durrant-Whyte, said it was an exciting international collaboration.
"NICTA is applying its research strengths to energy infrastructure challenges of immense economic importance," he said.
"Working with the Los Alamos National Laboratory is a privilege. Their formidable track record and global pre-eminence in the areas of national security, energy and infrastructure research, will amplify the impact of this project.”
NICTA research group leader, Professor Pascal Van Hentenryck, said the most efficient way to maximise the use of natural gas, reduce our reliance on coal, and exploit renewable sources of energy was to find the best way to integrate the two infrastructure systems holistically onto the same management platform.
“At the moment, we treat each infrastructure independently despite evidence that such an approach misses crucial details. That’s what we are aiming to fix with the R and D agreement announced today.”
Director of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Applied Energy Programs, Melissa Fox, said increased production and lower prices were driving higher levels of natural gas-fired generation in US electrical grids.
“This means tighter coupling between the gas pipeline and the electrical grid infrastructure, which increases the possibility of coupled failures.
She said the LANL/NICTA collaboration would develop new analysis algorithms with the ultimate goal of developing tools that will reduce the likelihood of these coupled failures.
As the United States’ premier national-security science laboratory, Los Alamos has a mandate to use cutting-edge science and technology to enhance the nation’s energy security.