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William Lubega presents Energy-Water Nexus Research at Complex Systems Design & Management Conference in Paris, France

On December 6th 2013, William Lubega and Prof. Amro M. Farid attended the Complex Systems Design & Management Conference in Paris, France.  William Lubega presented the jointly written paper entitled:  “An engineering systems model for the quantitative analysis of the energy-water nexus”.

This work builds upon the Reference Architecture for the Energy-Water Nexus recently published in the IEEE Systems Journal.  In our last blogpost, and as shown in the figure below, we described that this work provided a graphical representation of the energy-water nexus to qualitatively identify the couplings of energy and water.  The CSD&M paper was the first step in the quantification of this qualitative model using the bond graph modeling methodology.   As such, it could begin to answer questions about the energy intensity of the water supply chain and the water intensity of the energy supply chain in a rigorous and systematic framework.

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The aim of the CSD&M 2013 conference is to cover as completely as possible the field of complex systems sciences & practices.  It equally welcomes scientific and industrial contributions.

A full reference list of energy-water nexus research at LIINES can be found on the LIINES publication page: http://amfarid.scripts.mit.edu

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LIINES Website: http://amfarid.scripts.mit.edu

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Journal Paper Accepted at the IEEE Systems Journal: A Reference System Architecture for the Energy-Water Nexus

The LIINES is happy to announce that The IEEE Systems Journal has accepted our recent paper entitled:  “A Reference Architecture for the Energy-Water Nexus” for publication. The paper is authored by William N. Lubega and Prof. Amro M. Farid. The topic of the energy-water nexus is a timely one.  Global climate change, water scarcity, energy security and rapid population are at the forefront of sustainability concerns.  Furthermore, the fact that energy and water value chains very much depend on each other complicates how either system should be planned an operated.  And yet, the number, type and degree of interactions are hard to identify.  While the graphical depiction below illustrates many of the couplings, we are still a long way off from planning and operating this “systems-of-systems” sustainably.  And so we ask a first basic question:  “How can we begin to quantitatively understand the energy and water interactions in this nexus?” As the paper explains, a good first step is develop what systems engineers call a reference architecture.  Plainly speaking, this requires three steps:

  1. Figure out all the component parts of the energy-water nexus (e.g. power plants, water treatment plants, etc)
  2. Figure out how each one works
  3. Figure out the inputs and outputs for each one focusing especially on flows of energy and water.

This starts out qualitatively with flow diagrams like the one shown below: lubeg1 In a sense, this helps us to see the “wood from the trees”.  The web of energy and water interactions now become clear for further quantified analysis.  As the readers will see in the coming weeks, this is exactly what we have done at the LIINES. A full reference list of energy-water nexus research at LIINES can be found on the LIINES publication page: http://amfarid.scripts.mit.edu WhiteLogo2 LIINES Website: http://amfarid.scripts.mit.edu

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Journal Paper Accepted at the IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems: An Axiomatic Design Approach to Passenger Itinerary Enumeration in Reconfigurable Transportation Systems

The LIINES is happy to announce that The IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems has accepted our recent paper entitled:  An Axiomatic Design Approach to Passenger Itinerary Enumeration in Reconfigurable Transportation Systems for publication. The paper is authored by Dr. Asha Viswanath, Edgar Eugenio Samano Baca and Prof. Amro M. Farid.

The topic of path enumeration in a transportation network has a long history.  As one can easily imagine, we have been asking: “How many different ways can I get from here to there?”  for a very long time.  The question is fundamental to many operations research problems and has new applications in the resilience of infrastructure systems.  So why a new approach to such an old problem?

Well, as the paper explains, the traditional graph theoretic based method lacks in four ways:

  1. it does not explicitly describe the different potentially redundant modes of transport.
  2. it does not explicitly address the implicit functions of parking, loading/unloading, or sitting at an intersection.  Naturally, if these “null-processes” were somehow unavailable you might be stuck along your path for a very long time.
  3. given its highly abstracted nature, traditional graph theoretic methods do not integrate well with existing engineering design methodologies.
  4. it does not explicitly describe changes or reconfigurations to the transportation network structure in real-time and hence has limited application to the design of real-time reconfigurable transportation systems.

Instead, this paper presents a passenger itinerary enumeration approach based upon Prof. Nam Suh’s axiomatic design theory for large flexible systems.  Here, the system form and function are both explicitly described to overcome all of the weaknesses mentioned above.  The work has immediate relevance to transportation systems that require real-time switching decisions in their network structure.  Furthermore, many transportation system life cycle properties functionally depend on path enumeration.

Further applications of this work can already be found on the LIINES publication page: http://amfarid.scripts.mit.edu

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LIINES Website: http://amfarid.scripts.mit.edu

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Using Axiomatic Design for the Temporary Housing of Refugees

As we mentioned in a previous blogpost, being a university professor at Masdar Institute sometimes presents opportunities to work on really interesting problems.  One such opportunity arose out of the ESM 501 System Architecture class in which students are encouraged to use Axiomatic Design towards final projects about their ongoing research.  Naturally, when Lindsey Gilbert presented to Prof. Farid the idea of using Axiomatic Design to help house refugees, he became quite interested.

We see many humanitarian crises around the world that sadly generate refugee populations.  Syria, Darfur, Pakistan and the Philippines are but a few trying examples.  The humanitarian challenge of meeting the basic needs of these refugee populations ultimately translates to a design challenge as well.  How can these refugees be quickly sheltered in adequate housing?   Refugee housing — by nature — is temporary.  It must be easily erected in response to the dynamic conditions but also just as easily dismantled to avoid the creation of ghettos long after the news cycle has shifted its spotlight to some other purpose.  But the temporary nature of this housing can not diminish the need for durability.  While the often depicted footage of refugee tents give some protection from the elements, rarely can these “first-responding” structures last for more than week or two.  For refugees, the road to normalcy begins with more solid structures that provide a sense of physical and emotional security — a place from which to literally rebuild.

Lindsey Gilbert’s work used Axiomatic Design to propose temporary housing built up of reconfigurable modules arranged into a product platform.  It also recognized that a good design would have to avoid the “one-size-fits-all” pitfalls of many “first-responding” structures.  At the heart of the concept was a “studio” module serving all of a person’s basic needs.   More advanced modules such as a bedrooms, kitchens, and bathrooms could be attached with standard interfaces to respond to the customized needs of couples and larger refugee families.  The work was ultimately published in the 2013 International Conference on Axiomatic Design and received an honorable mention for best paper.  The full text can be found through the LIINES website publication page.

Interestingly, Lindsey Gilbert’s work represented one of the first times that Axiomatic Design had been applied to a civil engineering application domain.   Present in the room were the organizers of the 2nd International Workshop on Design in Civil and Environmental Engineering.  Lindsey’s work drew sufficient attention that he was ultimately invited to write a second paper on the application of axiomatic design to civil engineering applications.

As part of his master’s research, Lindsey continues to develop the design of his temporary housing concept and hopes that it will ultimately lead to practical benefits for future migrant populations.

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LIINES Websitehttp://amfarid.scripts.mit.edu

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Prof. Kamal Youcef-Toumi and Prof. Amro M. Farid give back-to-back invited lectures at Carnegie Mellon University

In the Fall of 2010, Prof. Kamal Youcef-Toumi and Prof. Amro M. Farid teamed up to collaborate on smart power grids.  For Prof. Youcef-Toumi, as director of the Mechatronics Research Laboratory and co-director for the MIT-KFUPM Center for Clean Water and Energy, this was a natural extension of his existing research.  For Prof. Farid, this was a natural shift of application domain from the control, automation and systems engineering of manufacturing system to energy systems.  Many of the recent research outputs featured within the LIINES smart power grid research theme are the rich fruits from this successful collaboration.  Today, on February 5th, both professors were invited to feature their collaboration at the 9th Annual Carnegie Mellon Conference on the Electricity Industry:  The Role of Distributed Coordination in Resilient & Fine-Grain Control of Power Grids.  

The first presentation entitled “A Multi-Agent System Transient Stability Platform for Resilient Self-Healing Operation of Multiple Microgrids” was delivered by Prof. Youcef-Toumi.  This work combines multi-agent system techniques from the field of distributed artificial intelligence with transient stability analysis from power systems engineering.  It recognizes that power grids are operated by multiple independent stakeholders be they independent power producers, semi-autonomous microgrids, full-scale utilities or whole countries.  Each has jurisdiction and control over its respective area even though the physical grids are electrically connected.  Hence, the multiple stakeholders must coordinate and collaborate with distributed control techniques in order to assure technical reliability.  The interested reader is referred to the publications led by Dr. Sergio Rivera on the LIINES website for further information.

The second presentation entitled “An Enterprise Control Approach for the Assessment of Variable Energy Resource Induced Power System Imbalances” was delivered by Prof. Farid.   This presentation reiterates the need for enterprise control techniques when assessing and mitigating the power system imbalances induced by the integration of variable energy resources like wind and solar PV.   It showed that when the power system’s primary, secondary and tertiary control are considered simultaneously, accurate and insightful conclusions can be made about the techno-economic viability of VER integration.  These conclusions overcome many of the limitations of existing methodologies found in recent renewable energy integration studies.  The interested reader is referred to the publications lead by Dr. Aramazd Muzhikyan on the LIINES website for further information.

These lectures follow similar inivited lectures at MIT and the Czech Technical University in Prague.  Full text of the background reference papers may be found on the LIINES publication page: http://amfarid.scripts.mit.edu

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LIINES Websitehttp://amfarid.scripts.mit.edu

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Research Theme Highlight Part V: Sustainable Systems

While the Laboratory for Intelligent Integrated Networks for Engineering Systems maintains a research program composed of four complementary themes, sometimes interesting research opportunities and collaborations often arise.  Naturally, being at the Masdar Institute of Science & Technology many of these are devoted to the topic of sustainability.  The “Sustainable Systems” research theme is therefore a “catch-all” group of works at the LIINES.  But this doesn’t make them any less interesting!  In 2013, the Sustainable Systems research theme had publications that varied from temporary housing for refugees, to the development of healthcare human capital in developing nations,  to environmental management of aluminum production facilities.  Stay tuned as we feature these important works!

The Sustainable Systems Publications page may be found here.

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LIINES Website: http://amfarid.scripts.mit.edu

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Prof. Amro M. Farid gives invited lecture at the MIT Mechanical Engineering Department

In recent months, we at the Laboratory for Intelligent Integrated Networks of Engineering Systems have been arguing for “Enterprise Control” in support of the future developments of the electricity grid.  This work has provoked interest in a number of different research communities.  To that end, Prof. Amro M. Farid was invited on January 31st to give a lecture entitled “Intelligent Enterprise Control of Future Electric Power Systems” at the MIT Mechanical Engineering department.  While power grid’s are often seen as the domain of electrical engineers, mechanical engineers have developed a strong interest in smart grids due to the heavy role of power generation and building management.  Furthermore, the concept of enterprise control  which originates from the ISA-s95 standard within the manufacturing domain is particularly familiar to mechanical engineers.  This presentation argues the need for holistic assessment methods and then highlights our recent work on the development of enterprise control strategies.  It draws from multiple LIINES publications lead by Dr. Aramazd Muzhikyan and Dr. Sergio Rivera.

The lecture follows a similar invited lecture at the Czech Technical University Department of Cybernetics in Prague.  Full text of the background reference papers may be found on the LIINES publication page: http://amfarid.scripts.mit.edu

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LIINES Websitehttp://amfarid.scripts.mit.edu

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