Tulane First to Receive Time Simulator

March 21, 2005

Michael Strecker
Phone: (504) 865-5210

On Aug. 14, 2003, the largest power blackout in North America's history plunged 50 million people in eight states and Canada into darkness. Such a scenario could be prevented in the future thanks to HYPERSIM, a real-time simulator Tulane University's School of Engineering has acquired as the result of its long-running partnership with Entergy, the utility company that serves Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas.

Tulane is the only university in the country to house such a supercomputer, which was built by California-based Silicon Graphics, Inc. and Canada's Hydro-Quebec. Engineers will use the powerful simulator, in conjunction with an identical one at Entergy headquarters, to test the current power grid's performance in a variety of "what if" scenarios ranging from storms to sabotage.

"Normally, utility companies have to do such testing off-line on models of grids that won't be operational for five years. This will allow us to test a system as it is now," said Parviz Rastgoufard, Entergy Chair in Electric Power Engineering at Tulane.

Rastgoufard said the Real Time Simulator will bring vast benefits to the university as well as Entergy's customers. Rastgoufard and other Tulane faculty will use the simulator to teach electrical engineering students concepts of planning and operating electric power systems. Graduate students will assist in the coding and algorithm work necessary to create analytical software as well as responses to various disaster scenarios.

Entergy will benefit from the expertise Tulane engineers will offer them on preventing and responding to power grid threats.

Besides its use in the energy industry, HYPERSIM could also be used in simulating and analyzing worse-case scenarios in the shipbuilding, airline, space flight and other industries.

The simulator project, directed by Rastgoufard, is funded by the Entergy-Tulane Energy Institute. The Louisiana-based Clean Power and Energy Consortium (CPERC) will provide additional funding for the project over the next five years. Federal and state agencies and other national companies are also being solicited for project funding.

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Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000