Los Alamos scientists take top prizes in national competition to help improve electrical grid

Artificial intelligence-driven algorithms could help keep the lights on

October 4, 2021

Hijazi Coffrin
Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists Hassan Hijazi (left) and Carleton Coffrin (right) developed algorithms that took top prizes in a national competition to help improve the resiliency of the electrical grid.

Los Alamos, N.M., Oct. 4, 2021—Two scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory took top prizes in a national competition for developing algorithms to help improve the resiliency and efficiency of the electrical grid. The algorithm developed by Hassan Hijazi of the Applied Mathematics and Plasma Physics Group took first place in all four divisions, while the one developed by Carleton Coffrin of the Laboratory’s Information Systems and Modeling Group placed second in two of the four divisions. Their work outperformed 14 other entries in the competition funded by Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E), a United States government agency that promotes and funds research and development of advanced energy technologies.

“Grid security is a national security issue, which is why this is important work for Los Alamos,” said Nancy Jo Nicholas, associate Laboratory director for Global Security at Los Alamos. “Every five minutes, optimization problems arise in the U.S. electrical grid that require a mathematical solution. Hassan’s and Carleton’s achievement will help advance national efforts to create a more reliable, resilient, and secure electrical grid.”

Both Hijazi’s and Coffrin’s algorithms use artificial intelligence to find ways to improve grid performance. Coffrin’s code is open-source and available through GitHub. Hijazi competed in his individual capacity.

The contest is part of an effort to identify emerging grid optimization algorithms and to accelerate the adoption of these algorithms by industry. It requires competitors to demonstrate the applicability and strength of new algorithms across a wide range of system operating conditions. Groups from other national laboratories, academia, and industry all took part in the competition.

The success of Coffrin’s artificial intelligence methods in this competition were made possible by the Laboratory’s long-term strategic investment in foundational mathematical methods through the Advanced Network Science Initiative.

About Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is managed by Triad, a public service oriented, national security science organization equally owned by its three founding members: Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle), the Texas A&M University System (TAMUS), and the Regents of the University of California (UC) for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.