Teams Collaborate on Intellectual Property

MISO has been ramping up its intellectual property program by accelerating research work and involving more external partners and collaborators. To do this, several MISO colleagues have collaborated as teams to develop the innovative ideas and formulate the exacting design specifics, while adapting along the way.

All the brainpower, innovation and energy spent in the research, creation, and design of a novel product (intellectual property “IP”) cannot be replicated once the patent is issued. Thousands of patent applications are filed every year with the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office, but not all are novel enough to be awarded a patent.

Recently, MISO has applied for two patents invented by MISO employees and external R&D partners. The filing of the patent application is just one step on a long journey the team undertakes to protect their IP. Yonghong Chen of MISO is an inventor on both applications. She has been with MISO for 18 years and describes the work of the inventors as “collaborative”, not only with the MISO inventors but also with commercial solver vendors and external research partners. “These MISO inventions undergo years of dedicated work, including the prototype development and large-scale performance testing,” according to Chen. She admitted that the patenting process is new to the MISO inventors, but they certainly recognize its importance in protecting MISO’s intellectual property and freedom to operate.

The two MISO products where patent applications have been filed are:

  • “Solving and Benchmarking Security Constrained Unit Commitment (SCUC) with Warm Start Driven by Data Analytics.” The MISO inventors are Yonghong Chen, Fengyu Wang, and Yaming Ma. Joanna Wu also helped on the recent case studies.

This patent application provides a way to improve commercial optimization “solvers” (computer programs) that are used in production for market clearing. From time to time, solvers may have difficulty in solving the market clearing problem in time. MISO developed approaches to improve the performance of the solver on day-ahead security-constrained unit commitment. These types of performance improvements enable MISO to continue to evolve its markets without compromising the quality or timeliness of market solutions.  Approaches in the patent filing include “warm start” and “lazy constraint” settings that give the solver tips on where to start looking for solutions and provide more hints to get there faster. Data analytics also are used to greatly improve the quality of these approaches. A distributed optimization framework is also proposed to take advantage of the diversity from prevalent solvers (GUROBI and CPLEX) under different solution strategies. A systematic distribution profile-based benchmarking method is also proposed.

Together, these methods can improve day ahead SCUC performance by over 40%. It is especially useful for more complicated market clearing models such as enhanced combined cycle.

  • “Systems and Methods for Managing Watchlist Constraints on an Electric Power Grid.” The MISO inventors are Fengyu Wang, Steve Rose, Yonghong Chen and Yaming Ma. A graduate student, Shubo Zhang, and his Ph.D. advisor professor Hongxin Ye, also were deeply involved in the creation and development of this invention.

Security constraints are necessary in unit commitment problems to guarantee that the commitments are reliable for the grid. Only a small subset of security constraints, however, can bind (have an impact on the solution of the unit commitment problem). This patent application presents a data-aided, pre-screening approach that could identify and remove non-dominating security constraints. This approach takes advantage of both deterministic and statistical methods, which leverage the historical data and an efficient pre-screening mathematic model. “Lazy constraints” are also used in the optimization solver to maintain solution integrity. Case studies show that the proposed pre-screening approach can significantly improve computational performance.

MISO has submitted eight patent applications since launching the intellectual property program, which is roughly one application every two months. MISO Legal currently also is working with inventors on two more applications. These creative accomplishments reflect the tremendous efforts of evolving ideas to practical designs. They are success stories of working collaboratively in partnerships to help MISO innovate and how MISO’s IP program can effectively secure and protect MISO innovations.

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