Opcondys Selected to Receive $3.2M in Federal Funding to Improve Reliability and Resiliency of America’s Power Grid
Opcondys, Inc., a small business located in Manteca, CA, announced today that it has been selected to receive $3.2 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The funding is part of ARPA-E’s Unlocking Lasting Transformative Resiliency Advances by Faster Actuation of power Semiconductor Technologies (ULTRAFAST) program, which aims to improve control and protection of the domestic power grid.
“We are very pleased to be selected a part of this program,” said Kristin Sampayan, Opcondys’ CEO and Principal Investigator on the project. “This funding will allow us to not only develop protection against the effects of lightning and EMP on the electrical grid but also advance the state of the art of our fast, high voltage switching device, the OTV.”
The project will produce an optically isolated device for suppression of destructive transient voltage spikes that are generated on the electrical grid by lightning, solar disturbances and electro-magnetic pulses. A single transient can be multiplied and travel throughout a power transmission and distribution network. Unsuppressed, these voltage pulses can cause premature aging or trigger catastrophic failures in grid components, induce power outages or cause failures in connected equipment in homes and businesses. The proposed device, when it detects a voltage surge on a utility line, will use the Optical Transconductance Varistor (OTV) to match line conditions and prevent reflection and multiplication of the transients.
The surge protection devices that are used now work at a local, building or equipment level by directing the transient to ground. However, many cannot react fast enough to lightning and EMP induced transients. The device Opcondys will develop works more quickly on the utility lines to minimize the number of transients, reducing the chances of failure and improving protection of homes and businesses.
“It will take three years to prove the concept of the transient suppression device, develop a working model and test it,” Sampayan added. “We look forward to the challenge of meeting the aggressive goals we have set for ourselves in this project. It is going to take a lot of engineering and technical talent to achieve those goals so we are eager to talk to anyone interested in working with us.”