Nottingham University to lead power electronics research

Nottingham University is to lead a new £18m national research centre devoted to power electronics, a technology that underpins and is vital to UK industry and the economy.

The EPSRC National Centre of Excellence for Power Electronics will have its coordinating hub at Nottingham, led by Prof Mark Johnson in the University’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, but will also involve researchers at the universities of Manchester, Newcastle, Cambridge, Greenwich, Bristol, Sheffield, Strathclyde, Warwick and Imperial College London.

The centre will also be work with industrial partners to stimulate knowledge transfer and to take new components and devices from the lab to the marketplace.

In a statement, Prof Johnson said, ‘Most people will be unfamiliar with the term ‘power electronics’ but it is a pervasive technology. Power electronics is at the heart of anything that utilises or manages electrical energy from the smallest handheld mobile devices right up to the largest energy networks and renewable generation.

‘Leading this new centre puts Nottingham at the forefront of developing the next generation of power electronics components and devices which are cheaper, smaller, lighter, and more energy efficient and durable.

‘Our aim is also to create an environment in which academe-industry collaboration can flourish, with industrial partners ranging from the smallest enterprises to global corporations and the views and opinions of our industrial partners will act as a driver for the strategic direction of our fundamental research.’

Investment in the centre comes from EPSRC, which is awarding £18m as a series of grants, each involving multiple partner universities.

A total of around £5m will be coming to Nottingham in capital equipment funding, in recognition of its leadership of the hub and to fund its research activities in three out of the four technical programmes associated with the centre, namely components, converters and drives.

The fourth technical programme – devices – will be led by Prof Phil Mawby at Warwick University and involves the universities of Bristol, Cambridge, and Newcastle.

The EPSRC’s chief executive, Prof David Delpy, said, ‘This £18m investment in a six-year research initiative is part of the EPSRC response to the government’s 2011 BIS Strategy for Power Electronics in the UK.

‘We will invest an initial tranche of £12m with a further £6m being released subject to a future review of progress. Power Electronics was also a priority area in our recent call for new Centres for Doctoral Training.’