Underpinning Power Electronics - Integrated Drives

Lead Research Organisation: Newcastle University
Department Name: Sch of Engineering

Abstract

An electric drive, defined as a system which includes a power electronic converter, an electrical machine and a controller, is a key enabling technology which is penetrating into almost all sectors of industry, and has particularly exciting opportunities in aerospace, automotive, renewable energy generation and industrial processes as well as consumer products. It facilitates cost effective and efficient renewable energy generation, enables the adoption of "more electric aircraft" technology, and provides traction power for electric propulsions in railways, ships and cars. The world market for industrial drives alone is over £8.5 billion and has grown between 2% and 5% above the industrial average over the past 30 years, driven by (1) the growth of industrial automation for better quality, productivity and management, and (2) energy saving for cost reduction opportunities which are increasingly supported by regulations such as the climate change levy (UK Department for Business Innovation and Skill report: Power Electronics Strategy for Success, http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/business-sectors/docs/p/11-1073-power-electronics-strategy-for-success).

Advances in electric drives therefore are not only crucial for the UK's economic growth and competitiveness but also has the potential to make a huge contribution to the low carbon economy as well as to achieve the UK Government target of 15% of all energy generation to come from renewable sources by 2020.

While electric drive technology could be considered as established, many challenges lie ahead, including adding new functionality, improving efficiency and compactness in drives as well as the overall system, better availability and condition monitoring, increasing power density and ability to operate in adverse environments. Underlying all of this is the drive for lower costs. The technology is advancing rapidly, and new developments in components and customer requirements in emerging markets such as automotiv, aerospace and renewable energy need to be embraced quickly to maintain a competitive advantage. The constraints on material supply chains, such as rare earth magnets, have to be addressed too.

This theme will encompass research ranging from the physical integration of the drive, to the design of components, through to the integrated design of the system, using a holistic approach. The ultimate aim of this research will be to advance a selection of the following challenges: Increased Efficiency; Increased Power Density; Greater Functionality; Increased Robustness; Higher Levels of Integration; Lower EMI and Lower Life Cycle Costs, many of which will embrace transformational research topics as opposed to incremental advances. Lower costs will be a key over-arching feature of the theme: although certain cost functions relating to manufacture are to a certain degree independent of this programme, the research will endeavour to reduce component and life-cycle costs and maintain a close working collaboration with the industrial partners to ensure manufacturing costs are not ignored.

A systems approach in this theme is essential. Devices and converter concepts will be developed under other themes and, with the exception of the machine and controller, this aspect is about integration. Modelling tools will be developed to enable system optimisation, so that motor, converter and load trade-offs can be understood, enabling design for maximum efficiency, life cycle costs or power density. Finally, this progresses into the topic of design for manufacture.

Planned Impact

This proposal forms part of the Virtual Centre for Excellence in Power Electronics (VCPE). Outputs from research conducted in this theme will be communicated to the wider academic community and to industrial collaborators via the Hub of the Virtual Centre. Investigators on this theme form part of the Hub organisation and are integral to its operation. Readers are referred to the Hub proposal for further information.

The Virtual Centre for Excellence in Power Electronics (VCPE) Pathways to Impact plan has 4 Key Performance Indicators:

1.Centre brand established as the natural point of contact for academic power electronics expertise in UK.
2.Evidence of the exploitation of Centre research to the long-terms benefit of the UK e.g. through continued support (TSB, direct industrial etc.), licensing of IP, spin-out activities, new business, new jobs.
3.Evidence of the impact of the Centre on relevant policy making bodies and on the perception of power electronics by the public.
4.Collaborative links established with leading academic groups and other relevant organisations.

In relation to contribution to national and international policy, the Hub will contribute, where appropriate, to the development of relevant policy through engagement with national government, national and international funding bodies and professional societies. A number of core members of the Centre already have the opportunity to influence policy makers through direct links with civil servants and advisor roles in a number of funding bodies and professional societies in the UK including the Electronic Systems and Photonics Knowledge Transfer Network, Power Electronics UK and the Energy Technologies Institute. Professors Mawby and Johnson are both members of the steering group for Power Electronics UK.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We are now able to produce electrical motor drives which are more compact than was previously possible, with a greater understanding of how they can operate at higher speeds and temperatures. This has enabled further research and industrial impact, particularly in the automotive and aerospace sectors.
Exploitation Route Through direct contact with industry and other academics
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Education,Energy,Transport

 
Description The results from our research have been used in many different applications and subsequent research projects. For example: The work on input filters and fast switching drives is being used in a range of applications and has become part of a new research grant with Collins, funded by the Aerospace Technology Institute. This involves both Nottingham and Newcastle Universities. The work on high temperature machines is of interest to many industrial concerns and is under further development. The integrated drives work has become part of a Prosperity Partnership application, to EPSRC, partnered with Dyson.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Education,Energy,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Attendance at Machines and Drives community event, Birmingham, UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact 500 world leading experts from academia and industry attended the presentation given by the PI. This presentation discussed the grant and looked forward to the future 30 years. There was a subsequent lively discussion and the IET published it on their website. This has helped raise the profile of power electronics and the EPSRC funded grant in particular.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Centre for Power Electronics Conference, Nottingham 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact engagement with industry and other stakeholders.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016
URL http://www.powerelectronics.ac.uk/index.aspx
 
Description IEEE Vehicular Technology Conference, Montreal, Canada 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact electric vehicles conference during which we presented on our research on integrated drives
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.ieeevtc.org/vtc2016fall/
 
Description IET 7th International Conference on Power Electronics, Machines and Drives (PEMD), Manchester, UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact publicity for funding generated at conference. Engagement with industry
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2016
URL http://www.theiet.org/resources/conferences/energy/pemd2014.cfm
 
Description New Science Live Festival, Excel, London, UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact public engagement and profile raising of power electronics
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://live.newscientist.com/
 
Description Therminic 20th International Workshop, London, UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact greater understanding of how to model drives thermally
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://therminic2014.eu/cms/wp-content/uploads/Therminic_Programm_2014_web.pdf