Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Doctor of Philosophy


Computer Science


Lutfiyya, Hanan

2nd Supervisor

Haque, Anwar



The work presented in this dissertation represents work which addresses some of the main challenges of fault localization methods in electrical distribution grids. The methods developed largely assume access to sophisticated data sources that may not be available and that any data sets recorded by devices are synchronized. These issues have created a barrier to the adoption of many solutions by industry. The goal of the research presented in this dissertation is to address these challenges through the development of three elements. These elements are a synchronization protocol, a fault localization technique, and a sensor placement algorithm.

The synchronization protocol addresses the dependency on synchronized data by allowing the devices themselves to synchronize their data. This is accomplished by establishing relationships between temporal events, transient signals and the devices recording these events and signals. The protocol establishes a relationship between transient signals emitted from standard equipment in electrical grids and the fault event which is then leveraged to synchronize the recorded fault data. The method has shown very promising results in synchronizing data from multiple devices.

The fault localization technique determines the location of a fault in a complex distribution grid. This is achieved by establishing spatial-temporal relationships between transient signals and distances in graphical representations of the distribution grid. This method provides precise fault locations in challenging electrical distribution grid structures. It also allows areas of the distribution grid to be classified based on how well they are monitored. This classification component predicts how well a distribution grid is monitored by the devices used.

The sensor placement algorithm leverages the classification component established in the fault localization technique to optimize the placement of the fault localization devices in the distribution grid. Here, an efficient algorithm is created for determining the best location for a given number of fault localization devices.

The combination of the synchronization protocol, a fault localization technique and a sensor placement algorithm and their minimal data requirements constitutes a uniquely complete solution that may set it apart from existing work and make it more attractive to the industry for adoption in electrical distribution grids.

Summary for Lay Audience

Fault localization in distribution grids has become a key area in the development of Smart Grid technology. According to a report made for the US Department of energy the annual cost of power interruptions to customers are in the billions of US dollars. A fault is an event that causes the grid to operate incorrectly resulting in an abnormal and often dangerous flow of power (like a fallen power cable or tree falling on a power cable). Fault localization is the process of determining the location of the source of the fault.

There are two areas to consider when performing fault localization in electrical grids. Fault localization can occur in the transmission grid and the distribution grid. Fault localization in the distribution grid is significantly more difficult that in the transmission grid. Fault localization solutions for the transmission grid have been quite successful. As such, there has been a wide range of methods developed to enhance fault localization methods used in the transmission grid so that these methods can be applied to the more complex distribution grid. The work has had varying levels of success, but these solutions are generally not adopted by the industry. This is because the methods developed largely assume access to sophisticated data sources that may not be available and that any data sets recorded by devices are synchronized.

The work presented in this dissertation seeks to address the current issues and provides a more efficient fault localization technique in relation to the data needed. The method is a multi-device localization method that uses a minimal amount of readily available data while maintaining a high level of accuracy. This thesis also provides an effective method of synchronizing all of the data and devices used for the localization method presented and establishes a reliable way to determine the best locations for those devices in the electrical grid.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.