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October 31st, 2006
More-Reliable Power Grids
Combining nanotechnology with wireless sensor networks could provide a cost-effective solution to widespread power failures.
The power grid is, for the most part, built on antiquated technology. When transformers and other equipment are installed, they are expected to work for about 40 years, replaced only when they fail. Additionally, components of the grid--from substations, to transformers, to circuit breakers in homes--can't signal to the local utility companies when damaged. This makes some power failures a surprise, and it protracts the fixing process, as utility workers need to physically identify the place where equipment is damaged.
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