Missouri S&T researcher wins CAREER award to supercharge electric transmission planning

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On March 7, 2024

Dr. Rui Bo stands at a Rolla Municipal Utilities electrical substation. Photo by Michael Pierce/Missouri S&T.

Dr. Rui Bo stands at a Rolla Municipal Utilities electrical substation. Photo by Michael Pierce/Missouri S&T.

A researcher at Missouri S&T who aims to revamp how the power grid is planned for the future will now have his work powered by the National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program award. 
“This project should help change electric infrastructure planning for our modern society,” says Dr. Rui Bo, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. “Having the NSF’s support with this award is a tremendous honor, and it further sparks my passion for my work.” 
Bo says electric demand is spreading to more newly developed areas with ever-changing needs and patterns, and electric supply is undergoing a shift from fossil fuel technology to cleaner technology.  
“A more agile process to plan for the future power grid is needed to respond to these faster-paced changes, and it is important to also consider the electric reliability and cost components,” he says. “Electricity must get from where it is generated to where it is needed. It sounds straightforward, but there are many factors to consider for transmission, and I am looking at the most economical ways to serve power load requirements and correct transmission bottlenecks.” 
Bo will receive $500,000 in funding for his five-year CAREER project, which he says involves computational and mathematical methods directly focused on improving transmission planning . 
More specifically, he will analyze large amounts of publicly available and industry-owned data and use modeling, simulations, designs and advanced computing methods that also incorporate artificial intelligence.  
“This project does not just look at one utility operator at a local level, but rather large grid operators across multiple states,” he says. “Electric infrastructure will not change immediately once the study is complete, but it will be available when those in the industry are realistically able to make the changes, and I look forward to working with them.” 
He says power grid operators could use the framework and automatic design features he will develop for their future electric transmission planning, and this will also be beneficial to society as more infrastructure will be constructed throughout the country to integrate and deliver energy from renewable sources.  
“Our society is moving to have more and more electrification across industries in place of methods that leave a much larger carbon footprint,” he says. “This research could potentially improve the computational efficiency of identifying needed electric transmission system upgrades by up to three orders of magnitude and improve the effectiveness of the upgrades.” 

For more information about Missouri S&T’s electrical and computer engineering programs, visit ece.mst.edu.

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