For the residents of Karachi, load-shedding and unannounced power cuts have become a regular nuisance.
Tired of the long power cuts, two student groups of the Usman Institute of Technology decided to take matters into their own hands. The students have developed two different systems - one would work to minimise load-shedding, provide uninterrupted electric supply in case a substation fails or is shut for maintenance while the second can control electrical loads through an android application from anywhere in the world.
Both the projects have been included in the list of final-year funded projects for the year 2013-14 in the National ICT Research and Development Fund of the Ministry of Information Technology.
Project 1 - Monitoring and Controlling of Electrical Distribution System
Through the Smart Grid Concept and Graphical User Interface (GUI) - a system to control the controllers - the delays in electric supply can be limited to seconds, claimed the students. Electricity can be restored within seconds or at most in a couple of minutes.
The main idea behind the project is to minimise load-shedding by simply keeping track of the regions and making sure that the consumers are not affected if any of the substation goes down, said Danyal Shahzad.
He and group members, Nafees Ahmed, Nomanullah Khan and Touqeer Dar, have developed the application to 'monitor and control the electrical distribution system', which will be beneficial to both electricity providers and consumers.
The system would also enable the providers to control billing and Kunda connections as they would be able to see how much power is being used in an area, they added.
"Projects, including solar panels and wind energy, are being developed for energy production, but no one seems to be working on how to control the distribution losses," said Shahzad. He explained that distribution losses include losses in transmission between the sources of supply and the points of distribution until the power reaches the consumer.
In winters, when there is less consumption in many areas, a substation can manage the load of the areas previously being given supply from two substations, said the students. If the load decreases to 50 per cent, one substation will supply electricity to two areas and if load rises above 50 per cent, the substation will automatically turn on and start functioning.
Control of supply by setting a specific time in the system is another method of saving power, said Dar. For instance, he said, government offices close down at a specific time but electric supply to the offices is never disconnected. Supply to street lights, sign boards and wedding halls can be controlled through this technique too.
Project 2 - Home automation via android application
The second group of students, comprising Rameez Ahmed Khan, Ali Raza, Minhaj Ahmed and Tahir Mehmood, has come up with an application that can control electrical loads through an android application from anywhere in the world.
These loads, including air conditioners, motors, refrigerator and energy savers, can be controlled from anywhere through an IP address. Power-line module or adapters have been added in the box to link it to the internet, said Raza. "One can turn on the AC or any other appliance before reaching home."
The designers have added sensors in the product that can detect human presence in a room, hall or any specific area and if there is no one in the area for a certain period of time, the loads will automatically be switched off. "You need not worry if you forgot to switch off your AC. It will automatically be switched off or you can control it through the android application," said Rameez.
The group has recently won the third prize in the All Pakistan Project Competition EMCOT '14 at COMSATS, Abbottabad.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2014.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ