Autumn 2019

I have recently become the school of Engineering’s Deputy Director of Business and Engagement. This role covers aspects of internationalization, employability and outreach. It will allow me to continue my outreach and STEM work as well as enhancing the school’s engagement with industrial contacts.

In January 2019, the electric drive developed as part of our EDRIVE project was transported to Flo-wave tank located at Edinburgh University. It was mechanically coupled to a scale model of a submerged heaving buoy – a device developed by industrial partner Carnegie. The buoy, machine and power converter were tested in a range of sea-states and control regimes in the wave tank. At full scale, it is envisaged that the submerged heaving buoy would have the power take off situated below the buoy. For testing purposes, the power take off unit was located above the water line and coupled to the buoy via a pulley system. As the buoy tested was operated fully submerged, it had no hydrodynamic stiffness and was hence not representative of a whole class of wave energy converter. In order to demonstrate the EDRIVE system applying a variable spring stiffness, a surface piercing buoy was built (with thanks to mike @ https://www.fountaindesign.co.uk ) . To manipulate the resonant frequency to a representative sea state, it was coupled to a submerged mass. The hydrodynamics of the buoy were investigated by Elie Shami, a PhD student from RMIT, Melbourne, Australia

In August 2019 a final set of testing was done at FloWave. The new buoy had a distinct heave resonant frequency which as used to demonstrate the effect to of varying spring stiffness on the oscillation. In addition the maximum power transfer controller was used to tune the device at a number of different sea states. The controller was developed by Luke McNabb, who was visiting us from RMIT for 3 months. You can see Luke getting fully involved in the testing.

Between us, fully controlled direct electrical power take off of a scaled wave energy converter was hence demonstrated. A representative control algorithm was used to prove that electrical systems could control the oscillation, and that bidirectional power flow could be achieved in a pure electric drive train. Many thanks to Steve McDonald, Luke, Elie, Markus Mueller (Edinburgh) and Mike from fountain design (https://www.fountaindesign.co.uk) for making this project happen .

I recently discovered that ex-PhD students of mine are now working at universities in China and Iran, plus employed in the private sector in companies in Wales, England and Saudi Arabia. Reassuring that students I have worked closely with for at least 3 years are going off to do good things in the wider world.

A good day at work.

Taking machines from the computer screen to the laboratory and then onto a commercial product. This month I was coordinating work on the electromagnetic design, the mechanical design, the coil winding, component pressing and assembly of a new machine across 4 partners. Here is a 3d printed mock-up of a new stator design we are hoping to make from SMC.

In other work, we are approaching the build phase of a new linear machine, and closing the test phase of an in wheel motor.

Another first for me: visiting an undergraduate field trip. As part of the re-launch of our undergraduate degrees, there are some huge improvements coming on stream September 2020, including a field trip and an iinterdisciplinary group project including an electrical drive.

August 2019

Recruitment for September 2020 has started, with a University wide open day held over the summer. My first experience driving an electric car was parking this University owned vehicle in a prominent spot for the day.

Two weeks later summer graduation was held – there was a good range of students that I taught in their third year, plus fourth year tutees graduating that I have known since their first year. Amongst a focus of research impact it is easy to forget that graduated students are probably the greatest ‘pathway to impact’ for the university. Its also the time of year when you get to see the academic’s true colours.

This year’s E3 academy summer school was held in Oxford, including an impressive tour of the YASA manufacturing facilities (https://www.yasa.com/ ). A really pioneering British electric motor manufacturer. Photos from the summer school, including this one, and more information about E3 Academy in general can be found from their facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/eee3Academy

For the second year in a row I was delighted to be involved in a STEM outreach project at Beamish Open Air museum. The challenge was to build a crane, here are some of the designs from the school I visited

and here is an action shot of me acting as one of the competition judges.

In research, two of our papers were presented at the 12th International Symposium on Linear Drives for Industry Applications (LDIA) conference in Switzerland: One summarising the EDRIVE project (DOI: 10.1109/LDIA.2019.8771015) which won an award

https://twitter.com/dr_nick_baker/status/1148586630430769155

– and one hinting at the next linear machine we intend to build DOI: 10.1109/LDIA.2019.8771011

A successful outcome for my (now ex) PhD Student M.A.H. Raihan as he passed his viva this month. Congratulations

In recent months I did a small piece of work to help a local firm trying to develop appropriate affordable wind energy technology for use in rural South America. Part of the university’s commitment to work with SMEs in the North East. https://www.ncl.ac.uk/work-with-us/expert-solutions/arrow/ . A nice project that I would have liked to spend more time on.

Driving the Electrical Revolution. We have known this was coming for some time, but it has now been formally announced that the UK government intends to invest £80 million over 4 years to help UK businesses seize the opportunities presented by the transition to a low carbon economy. It aims to ensure the UK leads the world in the design, development and manufacture of power electronic, machines and drives (PEMD). Good news for those of us involved in electric machine design and passionate about low carbon technologies. More details about the first call available here.

https://apply-for-innovation-funding.service.gov.uk/competition/405/overview#scope

Constructive Summer 2019

(Dr) Ahmed Almoraya successfully defended his viva this month, meaning he can return home with his wife and son, deservedly proud of his achievements in Newcastle. A good chunk of his work was accepted for publication in IEEE Transactions on Industrial Applications the day before his viva https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8719979 – also available here https://eprint.ncl.ac.uk/file_store/production/258207/D9F3FDD7-D697-4D0D-ABC9-CD8CBF74AB13.pdf . Some of his earlier presented work also came online this month. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8737130 .

In fact, recently many of our research outputs were released open source via the IET’s Journal of Engineering, e.g. work on linear machines https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8737123 , in wheel motors https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8737230 , tidal machines https://digital-library.theiet.org/content/journals/10.1049/joe.2018.9305 and current source converters https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/8737122.

In the lab, two machines are now ready for test – both involving some pretty unusual manufacturing techniques.

Probably the highlight of this quarter has to be travelling to San Diego to attend International Electrical Machines and Drive Conference IEMDC 2019. At least 11 people from Newcastle attended this event. I was involved in work presented on free piston engines, aerospace generators and automotive traction motors. Also hired an electric scooter, went on some fast runs and enjoyed some California IPA.

Plans are afoot to return to FloWave wave tank in Edinburgh to demonstrate all electric control of a wave energy device. After successful tests earlier in the year proved we could demonstrate fairly simple control, we look forward to some more representative test to demonstrate altering resonance. With help from two new friends from RMIT Melbourne (Elie Shami on hydrodynamics and our visiting researcher Luke McNab on modelling and control).

Recent STEM activity includes showcasing an old undergraduate student project on a self-balancing robot, and advising primary school children about building cranes.

I await with excitement the viva for another PhD student who has just successfully secured an electromagnetic modelling job in North Wales

Circle of life

I seem to have a student at every stage of a PhD at the moment! This month has seen one student submit a thesis, a second reach the pinnacle “light bulb” moment where the whole story of the thesis became apparent (to me at least), a third sitting his viva this week, a fourth well on the way to assembling a machine and a potential fifth having been awarded funding to enable starting late 2019. At one point I had 8 concurrent PhD students, so I can take all these developments in my stride.

A new journal publication about the effects of coil pressing got accepted for publication this month –” Life-time Characteristics of Random Wound Compressed Stator Windings under Thermal Stress” in IET Electric Power Applications.   First time in an IET journal for me. Hopefully it will get picked up by the research community, as it is packed full of experimental reliability results and makes some interesting points about the practicalities of coil pressing.

I am looking to expand my research base into carbon life cycles, end of life disposal of motors and bio-engineering. This means a heavy focus on proposal writing over the coming months.

Two machines are slowly making their way from the computer screens into the laboratory for testing. We are doing some work on the practicalities of using slot wedges, and also winding tape rather than round wire. Quite possibly my favourite part of the job: do these machines actually work in practice. Both of these will be tested towards the end of the summer I hope.

I haven’t done much STEM activity this month, apart from partaking in a campus wide science week activity. Hoping to get more done later this term, before schools break up for the summer

2019

New Year’s resolutions

Successful research requires the right combination of facilities, insight, people and money all being available in the right place at the right time. I’ve managed this a few times in my career and I’ve been lucky over recent years….but the whole process is cyclical and I am entering a stage where I need to secure more funding in the coming months to continue. I was unlucky with funding late 2018, so in 2019 I am going to focus on new opportunities – I have 4 potential projects in the pipeline…fingers crossed  …I am also starting to recruit PhD students for September 2019 entry.

Teaching

As semester two starts, so too does my annual teaching load. In January I taught my smallest ever cohort of MSc students – learning all their names by the end of the week, which resulted in a really nice teaching atmosphere. I have changed the focus of my undergraduate renewable energy course coursework to designing a 5 MW solar farm in the South of England. Interested to see how they get on.

Newcastle University is one of just a handful of Russell Group universities to be awarded the TEF gold award for teaching excellence. The next submission, which is due in 2020, is going to be subject specific. I have agreed to be part of the Engineering team responsible for helping deliver our TEF submission –  a so called TEF coordinator for Electrical, Electronic and Mechanical Engineering..

Research

In the last week of January we took one of our linear machines up to the flowave wave tank at Edinburgh University. At small scale, we were able to demonstrate direct drive electrical power take off of a wave energy device, including bi directional power flow to control the oscillation. Exciting stuff! This marks the beginning of the end of our EPSRC funded EDRIVE project.

The latest machine we have started to build is a radial flux, external rotor Halbach array machine, and Iago, a hard working PhD student, is in the exciting phase of planning the build of this machine. Meanwhile January also saw the submission of Ahmed’s thesis – after months of analysing the data from one of our linear machines.

 

End of 2018

Of the 4 of my PhD students that completed in 2018, I managed to get (rid of) 2 of them at the same ceremony. Congratulations Mehmet and Liam!

Over this last year I have had more linear machines tested than at any point in my career…but always as a passive generator. For the first time we managed to get one of these machines hooked up to a bespoke voltage source inverter to act as a controlled actuator. Watch this space next year for exciting results.

We are continuing or work with Protean on electric vehicle traction motors, with Iago delivering his annual address to his industrial supporters.

We are at the exciting planning stage for our next round of motor builds. As always, I thinks its pretty useful to mock up assemblies for those hard-to-imagine machines. Here is a potential assembly plan for Halbach arrays

October/ November 2018 – papers papers papers!

Being an academic, you get gaps when you don’t have much teaching to do. I filled my last gap by getting 4 journal papers published and some really amazing progress in the labs. Many thanks to my co-authors and co-workers for making this happen.

The E-drive part of the EP lab is starting to get really exciting, as the power electronic converter finally gets to meet one of the linear machines we have recently comissioned. Once we have this working, we are going to use the Flo-Wave tank and couple the system to a scale wave energy converter. Even more Exciting!

Much of the linear work we have done over the last 12 months have recently been published in 3 IEEE Transactions on Energy Conversion journal papers.

10.1109/TEC.2018.2877502

10.1109/TEC.2018.2873913

10.1109/TEC.2018.2879405

Plus this month our thermal work for aerospace has come on line in IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications

10.1109/TIA.2018.2873528

September 2018 – A lot of travelling

Conference season was in full a swing as I attended my final 2 conferences of 2018.

ICEM

Hosted at Alexandroupli, Greece, the International Conference on Electrical machines was well attended by the Electrical Power Group, where we presented 9 papers.

Inlcuding 4 from my team

Lots of interesting work going on around the world in Vernier Hybrid machines, PM machine topologies and linear machine work. Really good conference.

The work we presented is here.

https://twitter.com/Raihan_Nadal/status/1038362105391599621

(Raihan has not really built a bread machine, but is claiming a new breed of machine)

Of course, would be rude to go to Greece and not have a quick look around.
RPG 2018
This year’s IET conference on renewable power generation was hosted by DTU in Copenhagan. We presented 3 pieces of work on tidal energ, linear machines and power converters. for a conference with a fairly narrow title, there was a wide range of topics presented.
I finally got to give a presentation on the work we have done on the economics of teh generator in the OpenHydro tidal stream device. Sadly, a few months after OpenHydro went into liquidation.
I also represented a poster on the feasibility of linear magnetic gears, co-written by colleagues in Edinburgh.
A couple of other pictures…

 

 

 

 

E3 Summer school

The E3 academy is a scheme that sponsors some of our birghtest UG students. It is a collaboration between 6 industrial partners and 3 universities. As well as giving students finacnial support and guaranteed vacation work, it also aims to build professional collaborations between colleagues of a similar age. As teh E3 tutor, I go every year to the annual summer schooo, which this year was held in Bangor. As well as visiting hte awe inspiring Dinowrig pump storage centre (http://www.electricmountain.co.uk/), students where challenged with ‘reverse-engineering’ some products to get some experience in design.

Great scheme anda great summer school.

More details about E3 can be found here: http://e3academy.org/

Some nice pictures of the summer school, including past and present scholars, are avaiblae on tehir facebook page https://www.facebook.com/eee3Academy/