The Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation have formed a new research partnership to increase the security and the efficiency of electrical power distribution networks. This innovative collaboration will treat electrical power distribution as a "socio-technical system"-one that must be understood in terms of interdependent social, technical, scientific, economic, political, and even cultural elements.
Electrical power is distributed in complex, interdependent systems. We see parts of those systems in construc-tions as large as big, cross-country power lines and in devices as small as household circuit breaker boxes. Trans-former stations the size of half a city block distribute power to hundreds of households, and the power grid as a whole is of continental size: a disruption in Quebec makes its effects felt down past New York City.
Ships and other vehicles are equally dependent on reliable, efficient electrical power. The Navy and Marine Corps are moving closer to building all-electric ships and vehicles. The internal power grid of a large warship rivals that of a city in complexity. And since a warship is a city that must move, fight, and survive damage, the challenge of ensuring that the power gets where it's needed can be enormous.
ONR and NSF believe this new collaborative program will address a compelling issue of great importance not only to the Navy and Marine Corps, but also to the nation as a whole.