PhD Opportunity: Reducing unbalanced forces in electrical generators through active control

PhD Supervisor: Dr J Shek

Application Deadline: Open until position filled

Funding Availability: Open to UK/EU/Overseas applicants. Studentships will cover University fees (at UK/EU or overseas rate), plus a stipend for 3.5 years at the enhanced EPSRC rate (£14,640 for 2013/14). 

Research Area: Energy Systems 

Project description:

As a result of high energy density, renewable energy devices are subjected to large forces in order to maximise conversion of the energy available. Nonetheless, devices are still expected to operate reliably under variable conditions; their often remote location dictates that high reliability and robust fault tolerance should be integral to each device if they are to succeed and make a significant contribution to renewable power generation. Every wave and tidal current device requires an electrical generator to convert mechanical power into electrical power. It is well-known in the wind power industry that bearing failures have been a persistent problem which account for a significant proportion of all failures in wind turbines. Bearing-related downtime is amongst the highest of all components. Bearing failure is typically caused by some misalignment in the drive train, which gives rise to abnormal loading and accelerates bearing wear. An unbalanced force is produced in the generator due to an asymmetric air gap, which can further increase wear. Reduction of these forces would greatly reduce bearing loads and subsequently reduce bearing wear. For offshore devices it is essential that components are replaced or repaired prior to failure since a failed component can cause other components or other parts of the systems to fail. Hence, upon detection of imminent bearing failure it is desirable to reduce UMP in order to increase time-to-failure. At present, there is no unique solution to UMP reduction beyond a full shutdown of the system. Prior international collaboration with two universities has identified an opportunity to undertake pioneering research in the area of active control for reduction of unbalanced forces. Control of the electrical generator through existing power electronics would result in bearing failure prevention without any additional hardware complexity. This research has a significant impact on device reliability and has an even greater impact in arrays of devices. 

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Eligibility and qualifications:

Applicants must be of outstanding academic merit: a first class or upper second class honours undergraduate degree (or International equivalent) is the minimum qualification requirement.

To undertake this research, we are seeking a motivated candidate with a degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering or Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. This project will be of interest to students with an engineering background who are interested in energy and renewable power generation. Some knowledge and experience of power electronics, electrical machines, experimental work and a basic understanding of renewable power generation will be of benefit. 

Please apply through the Apply link below

Select the Research Area referred to in the advert and clearly state on your application form which project you are applying for and the relevant supervisor.

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