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The future is electric

£28M Hub launched to increase electrification in UK manufacturing.

A new Hub, involving experts from Newcastle, Sheffield and Strathclyde universities, aims to put UK manufacturing at the forefront of the electrification revolution.

Combining expertise in electrical machines and manufacturing for the first time, the £28m investment will enable researchers at the new EPSRC Future Electrical Machines Manufacturing Hub to work with industry on addressing key manufacturing challenges.

Together with key industrial partners including Höganäs AB, Dyson, Rolls Royce and McLaren, the hub will lead on the design of new electrical machines with improved performance for the aerospace, energy, automotive and premium consumer sectors.

Through delivering world-class manufacturing research and innovation, the Hub will assist UK manufacturing to capture significant value in the electrical machine supply chain, improve UK industrial productivity and deliver the environmental benefits and cleaner growth at the heart of the UK’s industrial strategy.

Delivering real impact

Leading the project for Newcastle University are Dr Glynn Atkinson and Professor Barrie Mecrow from the School of Engineering.

“The team that has been brought together for this hub has an exceptional track record of research excellence combined with successful translation to industry, delivering real impact – including jobs and inward investment,” says Dr Atkinson, who leads the Höganäs Research Centre at Newcastle University.

“Here at Newcastle we led the development of very high speed/high efficiency drive systems, informing the design of motor drives used within Dyson’s consumer products.

“And a collaboration with QinetiQ resulted in the development of a high efficiency solar aircraft propulsion system which was used in the Zephyr system aimed at satellite replacement, achieving a new world record for non-stop flight and making headlines around the world.

“The new Hub will link directly to two key research activities here at Newcastle: the electrification of aerospace and automotive systems and the development of new manufacturing methods for electrical machines.”

Drive towards low carbon emissions

The drive to lower carbon emissions is resulting in dramatic changes in how we travel and the ways we generate and use energy worldwide. New electrical machines with improved performance - higher power density, increased efficiency and improved reliability - are being designed by researchers and industry to address the need for clean growth and the challenging demands of new applications.

However, there are significant manufacturing challenges to overcome if UK industry wants the ability to manufacture these new machines at an appropriate cost and with the right levels of flexibility and quality.

Professor Geraint Jewell, Director of the EPSRC Future Electrical Machines Manufacturing Hub, said:

“The rapid move towards the electrification of transport and the surge in renewable energy generation is making this an exciting time for the manufacture of electrical machines in the UK.

"This is the first activity to combine electrical machines expertise with a broad range of manufacturing research expertise in a long-term programme of research at scale."

The Hub will play its role in addressing the skills shortage in electrical machine design and their manufacture, with some 30 allied PhDs projects sponsored by a combination of the host universities and industrial partners dovetailing with the Hub’s seven-year research programme.

An electric motor

published on: 15 February 2019