Carol Brzozowski 2016-11-16 11:29:18
Manish Mohanpurkar, a power and energy systems engineer at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), views the nation’s electrical grid as a “multi-faceted and multi-dimensional system that is very complex to understand and interpret.” But he welcomes the challenge and spends his days constructing various scenarios using the Real-Time Power and Energy Systems Innovation Test Bed to find solutions. That includes modeling and co-simulation of energy systems in a real-time environment for various program offices. Mohanpurkar’s work is an extension of his life-long fascination with the “power” of power. He is keen on learning how different systems and approaches can work in concert to create optimal solutions and how to troubleshoot problems that emerge. What He Does Day to Day During a typical day at work, Mohanpurkar spends time building real-time simulations of the power grid to better understand its function. “A real-time simulator allows us to build power grid models ranging from large power plants to transmission networks, to residential feeder systems, and even individual loads,” he points out. “I deal with a diverse set of problems that helps make electricity greener and adds sustainability to the modernized way of life.” Mohanpurkar also has the opportunity to work with devices such as PV, electric vehicles, wind energy, and electrolyzers, connecting them to the INL Hardware-In-The-Loop simulators to better understand their impact on the grid. What Led Him to This Line of Work Mohanpurkar’s first practical introduction to electrical engineering was a visit to his father’s transformer manufacturing company. “I was thrilled to see high-voltage electricity operations and how technology controls high levels of energy,” he notes. “The main thing that attracted me to electricity was that it was an ‘invisible’ form of energy. This energy flows through metallic conductors and its impact is observable. This made electrical engineering fascinating to me.” That fascination—coupled with several school field trips to a hydropower generation facility and similar industries—augmented his interest. “I also helped my father fix home wiring and troubleshoot relatively simple domestic appliances,” says Mohanpurkar. “All of these led me to develop a keen interest in this field.” He credits “great teachers” he had in high school who taught the physics, chemistry, and mathematics classes that helped build the foundation for a strong technical career. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Colorado State University after serving as a graduate research assistant there, engaging in a power-systems internship at the engineering consulting firm Spirae, serving as a graduate research assistant at Oklahoma State University, and doing his undergraduate work at the Government College of Engineering, Aurangabad, in India. What He Likes Best About His Work “I love my job because not one day is similar to another,” points out Mohanpurkar. “On a daily basis, I deal with different technical aspects of power and energy systems. This keeps my interest strong and allows me to innovate. Plus, at INL we have some world-class researchers who I can consult with and facilities I can use to perform cutting-edge research. The impacts of my contributions will help evolve the grid to be greener and still maintain energy abundance. A lot of my contributions are in renewable energy assimilation in the grid, and, hence, are applicable to the entire globe. I hope some of my contributions will help the greater cause of reducing global warming by employing greener ways to generate and utilize electricity.” His Biggest Challenge Mohanpurkar cites his biggest challenge as matching the high pace of innovation around electric grids throughout the world. “This is both challenging and encouraging to me to keep a ‘student-like’ approach at work every day,” he points out. “Plus, the electric grid is rightfully referred to in engineering journals and annals as the most complex man-made machine. The dimensions at which the grid can be studied can be nano, micro, and macro.” Deregulation that was introduced in the recent past has added another layer of complication in operations and maintenance of the grid, notes Mohanpurkar, adding that controls and communication networks also form an intricate part of the electric grids. DE Carol Brzozowski specializes in topics related to energy and technology.
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