• With support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have designed a portable measurement system to monitor the amount of electricity used by individual household appliances, lighting fixtures and electronic devices.
     With support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have designed a portable measurement system to monitor the amount of electricity used by individual household appliances, lighting fixtures and electronic devices.

New Measurement System Can Help Navy Conserve Energy

November 29, 2016
By Julianne Simpson
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Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT), with support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), have developed a portable measurement system to precisely and inexpensively monitor the amount the electricity used by individual household appliances, lighting fixtures and electronic devices.

The system was developed by MIT professor Dr. Steven Leeb and one of his graduate students, Dr. John Donnal, a former U.S. Army captain. Five postage stamp-sized sensors are placed above or near power lines coming into a house and are designed to be self-calibrating—enabling them to automatically pinpoint the strongest electrical signals.

The system can distinguish between each type of light, appliance and device based on unique signatures; which ones turn on and off; and how often and at what times. Users can then view the real-time data on an app and focus on specific time segments—revealing when, for example, a refrigerator goes into its defrost cycle.

The system could be a valuable tool for the military. “The military is an ideal customer for this technology,” said Donnal. “At a forward operating base, fuel conservation is paramount. Heating and air-conditioning thermostats run too high or too low. Large tents are heated all day during winter, even if they’re unoccupied during daytime hours.”

Leeb’s research is part of the Naval Enterprise Partnership Teaming with Universities for National Excellence initiative, or NEPTUNE, conducted by the ONR and the Department of the Navy.

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