Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Electrical, Electronic & Computer Eng


Energy is one of the major issues at the top of the national policy agenda. Energy Efficiency is key to meeting the national targets set by the UK government and by international treaty to reduce CO2 emissions. Electrical Motors and Drives are the driving force in industry and economy. The two areas are amongst the small number of "grow" areas identified by EPSRC's shaping capability agenda. Similarly, Power Electronics is widely recognised as one of the UK's key and high-growth technologies owing to its pivotal role in delivering low-carbon technologies. For the last several decades, the UK has been leading the way internationally in developing high performance power conversion devices but further improvement in performance calls for accurate validation tools. At Newcastle as well as in the UK, we presently rely on input-output methods to test PM machine drives and power electronics, which proved to lack precision for highly efficient ones. This limitation hampers our research activities because many cutting-edge technologies of importance to the UK, leading to impact in the aerospace, automotive and domestic applications, require high-efficiency motors and drives. To date we cannot accurately validate our numerical models in which the prediction and achievement of very low losses can make the difference between success and failure of a concept. Typically, uncertainties tend to be greater than 2% of system efficiency which may be more than the total predicted loss in the system. As a result, there is a pressing need for a highly accurate facility to measure power losses in electric machines and power converters to an accuracy of 1-2W, which does not currently exist anywhere in the world.
This proposal addresses national and institutional strategic needs by proposing an innovative calorimeter and by examining machines' and converters' power loss models using it. To deliver this we will bring together our leading experts in calorimetry, PM machines and power electronics. Once completed the project will provide the UK (based in Newcastle) with a high-precision and versatile capability for the experimental evaluation of the power losses and efficiency of PM machines and power converters, and then improvements on these devices will follow accordingly. This proposed work will have a long-lasting impact over the next 10-50 years. It will push the boundary forward in accurate power measurement, enabling future development of key emerging industry involving high-efficiency electrical machines and PE devices that would not otherwise happen. The technologies developed from this work will be potentially applied to many applications and will contribute to the UK's competitiveness in high-performance electrical drives such as aircrafts, electric vehicles, renewables and domestic products.

Planned Impact

a) Engagement Plans
We will communicate the research results to the beneficiaries, stakeholders and policy-makers from the beginning throughout the progress of the project. A project website will be set up by the RA to engage with the general public.
The PEDM has strong links with machines and power electronics industry. We will keep them informed of this project and its progress via our press releases, newsletters, industrial advisory board meetings, IET events and other networking activities.
In addition to high quality publications, the work of this research will also be disseminated through the ScienceFest series organised by Newcastle University. For example, we regularly host events called Bright Club to introduce researchers and to present the research work to audience by professional stand-up comedians in an entertaining way without sacrificing its quality. This has proved to be successful.
b) Collaboration Plans
We have a long history of collaboration with industry including key players Cummins, Siemens, Converteam, QinetiQ and Dyson in the machine market and Control Techniques (CT) in the power electronics market. QinetiQ is an innovative company on the ultra-high efficiency motor drives for aircraft applications. This research will aid it in developing next-generation UAV "SolarEagle" for Boeing and the US government. Dyson is a pioneer in utilising high-speed PM motor drives and will take advantage of this work for the machine design and thermal management. CT is currently developing fabrication and implementation technologies of SiC-based power converters and can benefit directly from this project by validating their power converter design. Recently, CT, Dyson and ABB all considered building calorimeters to test their products at some point. We will make them aware of the progress of this project, and to share our facilities, expertise and IP with them once completed, through appropriate arrangements. Our long-lasting collaboration will enable the results of this work to make direct impact on the manufacturing industry involving novel PM machines and Si/SiC power devices.
c) Commercial Exploitation
This is a proof of concept project and has a potential to create opportunities for commercial development. There is a promise of good commercial returns. Working with Newcastle University's Enterprise Team, patents will be sought where possible prior to publications. We will also explore feasibilities of setting up a spin-off company to commercialise standalone high-precision calorimeters, high-speed magnetic couplings and gears, high-efficiency PM machine drives and SiC converters. Meanwhile, technology transfer will also be considered in the form of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) and University Technology Centres (UTC) with interested companies.
In 5 years' time, we will build a larger calorimeter on the foundation of this project to cover the power loss range of 1-10kW, which will be suited for most medium-sized electrical machines and power electronics. We will then seek to establish a National Electrical Drive Testing Centre in 10 years' time to provide high quality research and development services to academic and industrial partners through collaboration or consultancy.
d) Increasing Capability
The RAs will benefit from developing knowledge and skills through working on this exciting project with experienced specialists and through a host of training sessions arranged by the University's Staff Training Team. It is likely to attract further interest from postgraduate researchers and research associates. Thus the project will help nurture young scientists and engineers in energy research, and draw up pool of good quality research expertise in the UK. This project will pave the way for many applications and R & D activities ranging from fundamental research to applied work. This will clearly maintain the UK's strong standing in cutting-edge technologies.


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Xie Y (2013) Study of broken bars in three-phase squirrel-cage induction motors at standstill in International Transactions on Electrical Energy Systems
Yihua Hu (2014) New SR Drive With Integrated Charging Capacity for Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) in IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
EP/K008552/1 21/01/2013 01/01/2014 £367,225
EP/K008552/2 Transfer EP/K008552/1 01/04/2014 31/12/2015 £265,738
EP/K008552/3 Transfer EP/K008552/2 14/03/2016 13/02/2017 £108,590
Description To preliminarily design a calorimeter;
To develop an on-board charging switched reluctance machine;
To develop prognostic and diagnostic techniques for power IGBTs;
To develop DC-DC converters for electrified vehicles.
Exploitation Route So far it's in the Proof-of-Concept stage.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Electronics,Energy,Transport
Description Employed a RA to design a calorimeter and conduct research in power electronics.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Electronics,Energy,Transport
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services