H2GEAR - Power Electronics and Network Development

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


" The GKN project is connected to a large research project called H2GEAR (https://www.gknaerospace.com/en/our-technology/2021/H2Gear.) which is aimed at building a completely emission free electric aircraft - powered by hydrogen fuel calls that generate electricity for electric motors. The overall project has over 60 people working on it from the industrial partners and the 3 Universities involved. We work on the electrical network and the power electronics - the electric motor is being built at Manchester. There are already 3 research staff and one PhD student working here at Newcastle on the project with 2 more PhD students through the CDT." - Initial project brief.

The initial scope of the project is focused on investigating a scale version of the ground-based demonstrator that is being developed by GKN, which will then lead on to assessment of how the implementation of the power electronics and network will operate in the demonstrator system. This will contribute to the industrial partners work in developing the airframe and electrical systems for the project.

Planned Impact

This CDT will produce power electronics specialists with industrial experience, and will equip them with key skills that are essential to meet the future power electronics challenges. They will be highly employable due to their training being embedded in industrial challenges with the potential to become future leaders through parallel entrepreneurial and business acumen training. As such, they will drive the UK forward in electric propulsion development and manufacturing. They will become ambassadors for cross-disciplinary thinking in electric propulsion and mentors to their colleagues. With its strong industrial partnership, this CDT is ideally placed to produce high impact research papers, patents and spin-outs, with support from the University's dedicated business development teams. All of this will contribute to the 10% year upon year growth of the power electronics sector in the UK, creating more jobs and added value to the UK economy.

Alongside the clear benefits to the economy this CDT will sustain and enhance the UK as a hub of expertise in this rapidly increasing area. UK R&D is set to shift dramatically to electrical technologies due to, amongst other reasons, the target to ban petrol/ diesel propulsion by 2040. Whilst the increase in R&D is welcome this target will be unsustainable without the right people to support the development of alternative technologies. This CDT will directly answer this skills shortage enabling the UK to not only meet these targets but lead the way internationally in the propulsion revolution.

Industry and policy stakeholders will benefit through-
a) Providing challenges for the students to work through

b) Knowledge exchange with the students and the academics

c) New lines of investigation/ revenue/ process improvement

d) Two way access to skills/ equipment and training

e) A skilled, challenge focused workforce

Society will benefit through-
a) Propulsion systems that are more efficient and require therefore less energy reducing cost of travel

b) Engineers with new skillsets working more cost-effective and more productive

c) Skilled workforce who are mindful considering the environmental and ethical impact

d) Graduates that understand equality, diversity and inclusion

Environment will benefit through-
a) Emission free cars powered by clean renewable energy increasing air quality and reducing global warming

b) Highly efficient planes reducing the amount of oil and therefore oil explorations in ecological sensitive areas such as the arctic can be slowed down, allowing sufficient time for the development of new alternative environmental friendly fuels.

c) Significant noise reduction leading to quiet cities and airports


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S024069/1 31/03/2019 29/09/2027
2749714 Studentship EP/S024069/1 30/09/2022 24/11/2026 Benjamin Fitzpatrick