The world’s very first and the only digital circuit breaker has been certified for commercial use this week. The technology was invented by Atom Power and has been listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). For those who don’t know; Underwriters Laboratories is the global standard for consumer safety. The digital breaker, as opposed to the mechanical breaker, makes it quite easy to manage power and is about 3,000 times faster.
You all have had some kind of experience with the mechanical breaker, also known as the fuse box in your basement. It has switches in it that have been designed to trip in order to save the wires from getting overloaded and causing a fire. Take this system and multiply it by many folds, and you will realize how costly and difficult it can be to maintain the mechanical breaker for a high-rise building or industrial buildings.
Ryan Kennedy is the CEO of Atom Power and has been working to come up with an enhanced electrical system ever since he started his career about twenty-five years ago. He worked as an electrician, followed by working as an engineer, and project manager on commercial electrical projects. His career led to him to two critical questions, ‘What would it take to make power systems controllable?’ and ‘Why shouldn’t that control be built into the circuit breaker itself?’
Kennedy and Atom Power CTO Denis Kouroussis began their journey to find the answer to these questions back in 2014. The duo came up with an infrastructure of digital circuit breakers that rely on solid-state semiconductors and software for managing the power’s flow from different sources known as Distributed Energy Resources or DER in short. The digital platform that was developed is able to fuse together the inflowing streams into a single hyperintelligent device that is able to adjust the amperes in terms of demand and application dynamically.
Kennedy said, ‘Instead of using mechanics to switch the power, we apply digital inputs. Now I have no moving parts. Now I have the ability to connect things like iPhones and iPads for remote power management, which increases safety and improves efficiency. I can set the distribution panel to a schedule, so the flow of power is seamless, unlimited, and shifts between sources automatically. You literally wouldn’t notice. The lights wouldn’t even flicker.’
Kennedy claims that the modern world has outgrown the constraints that were imposed by the conventional circuit breakers, and it is about time it moved to something that can cater to its needs. He says, ‘Old school breakers simply can’t operate as fast as the flow of power. When things go wrong in larger buildings, they go really wrong because you typically have a much bigger source feeding that demand.’
Atom Power is now working on enhancing its digital circuit breaker and on improving it so that there are less thermal losses. The company has received investments from three of the four largest circuit breaker manufacturers including Siemens, ABB, and Eaton. Let’s see how soon Atom Power is able to improve its digital circuit breaker design.