With growing concern over rising pollution and climate change, there has been a global shift towards cleaner growth and more resource efficient economies.
Electrical machines are key to this shift in the form of electric cars, aircraft and renewable energy sources such as tidal or wind power. However, manufacturing faces significant challenges in this area, particularly around new materials and the application of digital approaches.
The University of Strathclyde has announced that its Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) and Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering will form the Scottish arm of the new EPSRC Future Electrical Machines Manufacturing Hub, which is to be led by Professor Geraint Jewell at the University of Sheffield – academics from Newcastle University will also participate.
The £28 million investment, which has been augmented by an additional £10 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will enable researchers to work with industry to explore and develop solutions to key manufacturing challenges, design new electrical machines with improved performance for aerospace, energy, automotive and premium consumer sectors.
It is hoped that the research carried out by the hub will help put the UK at the forefront of the electric revolution and enable its manufacturers to produce machines at an appropriate cost and with the right levels of flexibility and quality. The hub’s industrial partners include Rolls-Royce, Airbus, Siemens Gamesa, GKN Aerospace, McLaren and Dyson.
The hub will also help address the issue of the skills shortage in electrical machine design and manufacturing by providing 30 allied PhDs projects sponsored by a combination of the host universities and industrial partners supporting the hub’s seven-year research programme.
Industry Minister Richard Harrington said: “This investment brings together world-class researchers and leading manufacturing firms to help revolutionise how key industries like steel operate in the future.
“We are determined to ensure the UK sets the global best standard for making our energy intensive industries competitive in the new clean economy.”
Professor Keith Ridgway, Executive Chairman of the AFRC, said: “The Hub will play a crucial role in addressing key challenges around the manufacture of electrical machines and we’re delighted to be part of a strong, collaborative team whose combined talents and capabilities are at the very cutting edge of advanced technologies and digital manufacturing research.
“Electric machine design, performance and manufacture is an exciting area to work in and one which requires the strength of each of the partners if UK industry is to overcome these challenges and deliver on increasing electrification in UK manufacturing.”
Professor Jewell, commented: “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.”
Dr Jill Miscandlon, Senior Manufacturing Engineer and lead researcher for the EPSRC Future Electrical Machines Manufacturing Hub, added: “Collaboration is key and while we can learn from the partners, we will also bring significant research and understanding to the table, helping place the AFRC and Scotland on the map for electrification. This is no small feat, however the Hub will exploit the very best precision and technical knowledge to positively impact industry across a variety of sectors.”