Plasma switch to help GE upgrade the U.S. power grid

October 29, 2014 7:56 AM

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Plasma switch to help GE upgrade the U.S. power grid

When researchers at General Electric Co. sought help in designing a plasma-based power switch, they turned to the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL). The proposed switch, which GE is developing under contract with the DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, could contribute to a more advanced and reliable electric grid and help to lower utility bills. The technology is being presented at the 2014 APS Division of Plasma Physics Meeting this week in New Orleans.

The switch would consist of a plasma-filled tube that turns current on and off in systems that convert the direct current (DC) coming from long-distance power lines to the alternating current (AC) that lights homes and businesses; such systems are used to convert AC power to DC power as well. The tu...

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