The Bastrop County Complex Fire in 2011 burned more than 34,000 acres and 1,500 homes. It started on a windy day when trees fell on a power line, causing sparks to land on the dry grass below and ignite the forest. Wildfires caused by sparks from power lines are not unique, though; they were the source, in part, of recent major wildfires in California, for example. With that in mind, researchers at Texas A&M University developed a technology to prevent some of these fires before they start.
Don Russell, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Texas A&M, says his team can now predict wildfire threats hours, weeks and even years in advance, in some cases, with its Distribution Fault Anticipation technology, or DFA.
“We’ve developed a smart system, a diagnostic tool … where we know that things are in a failure mode and they can be found and fixed long before the catastrophic failure occurs,” Russell says.
What you’ll hear in this segment:
– How A&M’s system notifies an electric company when a circuit is likely to fail
– How the system prevents the need for some grid blackouts, which are dangerous for some people
– How the state of Texas helped with the development of DFA
– What it costs to install the monitoring system
Written by Kristen Cabrera.