Electronic & electrical engineeringPower Electronics, Drives and Energy Conversion (PEDEC)

This group’s work involves research, development and experimentation on all aspects of power conversion. This ranges from individual power modules through to specialised hardware/software control platforms. The work, conducted within six broad themes, is supported by state-of-the art simulation/design facilities and three specialist power electronics laboratories.

The group has an excellent track record of technology transfer for power electronic systems including the provision of advanced innovative designs to industry partners. Partners include:

  • BAE (HV pulse generator)
  • Hunslett-Barclay (450kW locomotive traction drive)
  • UKAEA – Culham Research Centre (high current LV power supplies for Tokomak fusion plant)

Core areas of expertise

High Power Convertor Systems

Power electronics is being increasingly employed in high power applications including the energy generation, transmission and bulk process industries. To operate at these power and voltage levels requires composite systems that can function above the ratings of individual devices.

This team has an extensive track record in research into these techniques, including work on the series connection of power IGBTs and multi-level converter topologies. It has recently worked on hybrid converter topologies for high Voltage DC transmission and circuits, solid-state/hybrid DC circuit breakers and high power current source inverters for mining/offshore applications.

Control of Inverters for Generator Grid Interface

Increasingly distributed generation is operated at variable frequency or DC output. This introduces the need for a power electronic interface. Unlike conventional generation where power flow is fixed by the generator dynamics, the behaviour of inverter connected generation is fixed by the power electronic circuit and its associated control system.

Current research projects are focusing the optimisation of control under transient and distorted grid conditions, and the study of interactions within multi-inverter systems.

DC Power Networks

DC power systems are increasingly being applied to new areas ranging from high voltage transmission to high reliability aerospace/marine power systems. These are the focus of a number of ongoing research projects.

  • HVDC: the rising demand for electrical energy coupled with the need to integrate increased levels of renewable generation has led to a resurgence of interest in HVDC networks. Current research projects are investigating both system control and power converter topologies.
  • Multi-terminal DC Micro-grid: increased reliance on solid state energy conversion has led to considerable interest in DC networks for smaller scale power networks. This research investigates a multi-terminal, unidirectional dc current distribution link and associated integrated grid management system.

Specialist Power Supplies

Nuclear fusion reactors are dependent on complex electrical power systems. These systems place unique demands on energy conversion equipment. This team is investigating innovative designs to counteract these demands.

Pulsed Power

This team has a track record in power electronics for pulsed power applications. Its research has resulted in the commercial development of a modular 3kV 20ns pulse module capable of series connection, current activity is focusing on flash X-ray sources. The use of solid-state electronics for X-ray production will provide the potential for multi-pulse generation. With suitable diode technology, multi-pulse generation will provide a massive advance in the capability of flash X-ray diagnostics applied to hydrodynamics research.

High temperature Silicon-Carbide

Silicon Carbide material has the potential to deliver power electronic semiconductor devices with significantly improved speed and operating temperature. This team is investigating the development, design and fabrication of such innovative materials.