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Advanced Electrical Power Systems

To reduce weight, enhance efficiency and improve reliability and maintainability, many hydraulic, mechanical and pneumatic systems on aircraft are being replaced by electrical equipment. However, the transition to more electric technologies is creating many challenges.

The research themes relating to advanced aerospace electrical power systems that have been identified by AeIGT as necessary to advance the state of competitiveness are:

In the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, the Power Conversion Group and the Electrical Energy and Power Systems Group are working in many of these areas. Together these two Groups comprise one of the largest single academic research bases in electrical technology in the UK

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Power Conversion Group

The efficient conversion & control of electrical energy is a vital infrastructure technology that underpins much of what we take for granted in an industrialised country; electricity generation & distribution, land, sea & air transport, computer & communications systems, & countless industrial processes.

The Power Conversion Group is active in many of these areas, undertaking both fundamental & applied research that covers:

With eight Academic Staff & a team of almost forty Research Staff & Students, the Group is one of the largest in this area, in the UK. The Group has recently benefited from University investment in the form of three new academic posts. In addition to EPSRC, DTI & EU Grants, the Group's funding portfolio includes the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre in Electrical Systems for Extreme Environments. Approimately 50% of the Group's activities are concerned with aerospace applications

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Power Conversion Research at the University of Manchester

University of Manchester research in this area is principally concerned with electro-mechanical & solid-state techniques for the conversion & control of electrical power across a wide range of applications, especially sustainable transport & energy supply, more specifically:

One of the main aerospace related projects that is currently underway within the Group is the Integrated Electrical Power Networks Evaluation Facility (IEPNEF), a 100kW experimental platform for studying the complete electrical systems of uninhabited aerial vehicles (UAVs). The facility is being funded by Rolls-Royce and the Defence technology Centre (DTC) in Systems Engineering for Autonomous Systems (SEAS). Research based in the facility includes engine embedded generation technologies, systems architectures, power quality and stability, system control and energy storage, fault management and protection. The Group is also heavily involved in MOET (More Open Electrical Technologies), the Airbus-led FP6 project that is devising and validating new power system architectures and standards for aircraft electrical systems. Our role is to undertake systems modelling, simulation and the evaluation of advanced architectures, principally using the Saber software.

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Electrical Energy and Power Systems Group

The EEPS group is at the forefront of research and teaching in the field of electric power engineering in the United Kingdom and internationally with its 10 permanent academic members of staff and its 30+ researchers. Our people are in constant contact with industry and at the vanguard of the research trends in electric power engineering. Our research covers 3 main axes:

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Power System Analysis, Operation & Economics

We seek innovative solutions to problems of power system reliability and security, demand-side participation, distributed generation integration and planning and operation of the electricity grids of the future.

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High Voltage & Power System Plant

We investigate breakdown mechanisms in ageing power system plant infrastructure, novel insulation materials and techniques for aerospace and conventional electric utility applications. Through the Rolls-Royce UTC we are investigating partial discharge management for aerospace electrical power distribution. The work includes voltage limitations for cables and connectors, and design constraints for future electrical distribution systems.

We are also proud to be the home of the National Grid High Voltage Research Centre.

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Power System Protection, Control & Communications

We develop the new power system protection, control and communication methodologies needed to improve service reliability and effectively take advantage of dispersed sources of generation.

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Advanced Electrical Power System Research Facilities at the University of Manchester

Power Conversion Group

A strong emphasis is placed on the practical testing & validation of new techniques & extensive, well maintained facilities are housed at the University of Manchester.

Three recently refurbished laboratories offer a modern & comfortable working environment. These are well equipped with network, impedance & power analysers, oscilloscopes & current probes. The facilities include:

  • A calorimeter for high precision measurement of machine losses.
  • A microgrid test rig based around a 20MJ energy storage flywheel.
  • Cryogenic rigs for superconducting & low temperature power electronics research.
  • A 100 kW aircraft-electrical systems rig.
  • A test chamber for fuel cell characterisation.
  • A re-configurable multi-phase induction motor rig.
  • An electric vehicle power train including supercapacitor energy storage.
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    Electrical Energy and Power Systems Group

    The EEPS group has some of the best research facilities in the world that include the largest High Voltage (HV) laboratory of any UK University. We also have extensive bespoke and commercial software available for use.

    The National Grid High Voltage Research Centre contains the following equipment:

    We also have equipment for use in the testing of power system protection and power system communications. This includes a real time digital simulator (RTDS) in which devices can be tested in real time.

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    An extensive range of software is used to support our research. This software includes:

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    Postgraduate Study in Advanced Electrical Power Systems

    Taught Master of Science (MSc)

    We currently offer four MSc courses:

    A student is able to graduate with an excellent knowledge of all important issues relating to the power system from analysis to practical equipment design. MSc graduates from the University of Manchester can currently be found the world over, many occupying high positions within companies involved in various forms of power engineering. By completing an MSc course at the University, you will join this worldwide community.

    Research Degrees (PhD / EngD)

    A PhD/EngD is the target of most of the postgraduate students working in the school who relish the opportunity to undertake a research project with clear intellectual, scientific, industrial or commercial relevance and challenge. If you come to us from industry you might well find it possible to do the kind of postgraduate work which is of particular value to your organisation as well as to your own advanced training. If you already have some experience of research work you may enter for this degree direct. In almost all cases your supervisor will recommend that you attend modules from the taught MSc courses that the school offers. The PhD then requires a minimum period of three years of full time research. The EngD degree is normally a four-year course with the same high standards of research training as the PhD but also incorporating a framework of industrial management.

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    Academic Staff:

    Prof Andrew Forsyth (Theme Leader) Power Electronics, Aerospace Systems & Electric Vehicles (FULL)
    Name Research Areas
    Dr Mike Barnes Control of Power Electronic Systems & Microgrids (ASSO)
    Dr I Cotton Dielectrics, reliability, insulation, high voltage, optical fibres, overhead lines
    Dr Sinisa Durovic  
    Dr SM Rowland High voltage engineering
    Dr Nigel Schofield Machines & Actuators, Fuel Cells & Electric Vehicles (I)
    Dr Roger Shuttleworth Power Electronics, Energy Harvesting & High Voltage Applications (ASSO)
    Dr Sandy Smith Electrical Machines, Marine Systems & Superconducting Devices (FULL)
    Dr Rebecca Todd  


    Professor Andrew Forsyth

    Email: electrical-power@manchester.ac.uk

    Advanced electrical power systems flyer

    Alternative title.

    Download the full pdf of the advanced electrical power systems research theme flyer for further information and contact details.