Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

RTI receives $1m to advance smart grid research

Steve Rogerson
November 21, 2017
 
Industrial IoT connectivity company Real-Time Innovations (RTI) has been awarded $1m in funding from the US Department of Energy (DoE) to advance smart grid research and development using the Data Distribution Service (DDS) standard.
 
This funding follows Phase I, where RTI received initial funding from the DoE to prototype advanced technology to enhance and secure the cyber physical communications infrastructure of the next US smart grid.
 
The modern power grid increasingly incorporates distributed energy resources, such as solar and wind. Because these power sources are highly variable, they are best used in microgrids together with local battery storage to smooth their fluctuations. As this architecture continues to evolve, demand-response and millisecond-level coordinated control are required to leverage these energy assets efficiently.
 
For this to happen, distributed intelligence must be pushed into the grid, allowing these devices to share data with each other and with the central office. In parallel, the communications and control systems need to evolve from analogue to digital to scale and support potentially millions of control points.
 
California-based RTI was selected to continue its research and development of technology for securely managing, configuring and monitoring intelligent computing devices that will control the modern energy grid. This will also introduce the concept of platform-independent configuration overlays to meet the diverse grid hardware requirements and future-proof the design.
 
RTI is collaborating on this programme with energy standard groups, national labs, IIoT standardisation bodies and Duke Energy. This will ensure its efforts are aligned and relevant across the broader market.
 
In Phase I of this research, RTI built upon its Connext DDS real-time commercial connectivity software to develop an open, fault-tolerant and decentralised way to interface with existing grid systems, with the goal of enhancing and securing the cyber physical communications infrastructure of the US smart grid.
 
RTI's research team built upon Connext DDS to develop a secure, resilient, multi-protocol and platform-agnostic system for the next-generation energy grid.
 
In Phase II, RTI plans to develop advanced remote device management with platform-independent configuration overlays. The company is working to mature these innovations with an industry advisory board in alignment with the North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) RMQ.26 specification for Open FMB.
 
RTI will contribute the developed code back to the Smart Electric Power Alliance (Sepa) Open FMB repository for the benefit of the community to help advance the adoption of the Open FMB standard.
 
Sepa is an organisation dedicated to working with electric power stakeholders through pressing issues affecting the growth and use of smart energy. The Open FMB framework, which was ratified in early 2016 as an industry standard by NAESB, applies IIoT technology approaches to the power grid.
 
"As founder and chairman of the Open FMB task forces at Sepa and NAESB, I am very appreciative of the DoE's support in RTI's research to further advance the security and management services capabilities of the Open FMB framework," said Stuart Laval, director of technology development at Duke Energy. "We are looking forward to seeing their proposed health and lifecycle management deliverables being developed, validated and contributed to the Open FMB standards community."
 
Open FMB is a reference architecture and framework for distributed intelligence that leverages existing IIoT standards, such as DDS, MQTT message queue telemetry transport and AMQP advanced message queue protocol to federate data between field devices and harmonise them with centralised systems.
 
"As intelligent nodes are introduced into the grid, management services will be essential to configure, monitor and secure them," said Paul Pazandak, director of research at RTI. "We are grateful for the DoE's continued support and investment in advancing smart grid technologies and research. The DoE funding we've received both in Phase I and now in Phase II is a recognition of the power of the DDS standard in managing and regulating the modern grid and we look forward to furthering our efforts in this regard."
 
This project will continue to use features from Connext DDS, including resiliency, legacy system compatibility, extensibility and performance. Connext DDS Secure serves as a software databus for grid edge cyber physical systems, which can be crucial in securing microgrids.
 
RTI says its technology is the first IIoT standards-compliant connectivity framework to deliver the security, performance and safety required for deployment of these critical IIoT systems.