Smart control allows us to exploit the understanding developed through testing to use measurements and sensing technologies on the electric machine/power converter to control it in a particular manner or find out something whilst the system is running that we cannot find in any other ways. For example, a controller might measure ripple currents produced by the power converter and use this to predict how those currents will result in power loss and heating in the electric machine. It can then control these ripple currents to ensure that the entire drive operates at its most efficient point.
Sensorless rotor position detection (SAFRAN Electrical and Power UK)
Using electric measurements (e.g. voltages and currents) we can accurately determine the mechanical position of the rotating parts of an electrical machine. To date we have fused a range of techniques to achieve a precision of one electrical degree over the full operating speed and load envelope of a synchronous permanent magnet machine. This work has contributed to a range of research projects in the aerospace industry with Safran Electrical and Power UK, in particular supporting bleed less electric start of aircraft engines.
Prognostics for electric machines
The work in this areas combines measurement technologies not previously possible with existing measurement in electric machines to allow us to estimate an understanding of the state-of-health of a drivetrain and operate it accordingly. This is particularly important as electric technologies penetrate into markets that have safety critical requirements such as aircraft actuators, automotive power steering motors. Work in this area is focusing on robust, wireless measurement technologies for the rotating parts of machines in large airliners whilst they are in service and the use of this data for use in smart maintenance schedules.
Providing extra functionality
Using sensors already embedded in the electric drivetrain you can use that electric drive to give your system more functions than it had with its more conventional drivetrain. An example of this that formed part of an EC project whilst Leonardo Helicopters involved the use electric generators coupled to the main rotor of a helicopter. The developed machines was then used to explore supporting and controlling autorotation in the event of total loss of engine power, making a safe landing easier for a pilot to control.
Interested in the electric revolution, future of transport or Power Electronics? We're looking for enthusiastic and motivated students to join the EEMG.