RIT and Exiscan Awarded Grant to Monitor Electrical Efficiencies

Research on new infrared system will detect energy loss due to electrical faults

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James Lee and Robert Garrick

Rochester Institute of Technology and local startup company Exiscan won a grant from the New York State Center for Emerging and Innovative Sciences to quantify energy savings through the use of infrared inspection windows.

Through the project, the team will generate the data needed to better understand energy loss from undetected electrical faults. The goal is to develop a fast and effective means for measuring energy lost in malfunctioning electrical equipment.

The grant will support work being done by James Lee and Robert Garrick, both assistant professors in RIT’s mechanical engineering technology department, and Tim Rohrer, president of Exiscan. The research is expected to enhance commercialization of Exiscan’s line of infrared inspection windows, says Rohrer. These electrical inspection tools enable safer, more efficient monitoring of medium- and high-voltage electrical distribution systems in industrial facilities.

“By quantifying the cost of energy loss due to typical electrical faults, we could really affect huge efficiencies and cost savings throughout America’s largest power consumers: industrial facilities and data centers,” says Rohrer.

Electrical faults not only waste critical energy, if undetected they can cause catastrophic failures such as fires or arc flash explosions. According to the Occupational Safety and Heath Administration and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, arc flash accidents, which happen several times a day across the U.S., can cause severe injury, resulting in job-related fatalities.

“The work will involve students working with electrical thermography suppliers,” says Garrick. “Students will not only identify energy savings opportunities, but also gain valuable experience with Exiscan’s new technology to address real-world problems.”

Exiscan, a Rochester-based start-up company, manufactures a line of electrical safety products, including infrared inspection windows. In April 2011, the company won the Greater Rochester Regional Business Plan Contest. Shortly thereafter, Exiscan began working with RIT’s Venture Creations business incubator program to accelerate its business implementation process and growth strategy.

The New York State Center for Emerging and Innovative Sciences is a NYSTAR-sponsored Center for Advanced Technology. The organization helps to match area faculty-researchers with industry professionals to conduct applied research in various technologies to stimulate economic growth in New York and the U.S.