Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Electrical motors and drives and electromagnetics

Design and manufacture of electromechanical systems and their accompanying power electronic drives and controls.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

This area encompasses design and manufacture of electromechanical systems and their accompanying power electronic drives and controls. This research area includes the associated challenges around electromagnetic compatibility, application of new materials, mechanical integrity, cooling, condition monitoring and future manufacturing processes. It also includes the field of power electronics, specifically the application of solid-state electronics to the control and conversion of energy between electrical and mechanical domains. Electromagnetics covers the study of electromagnetic interactions in engineering materials and devices, including electromagnetic interference.

This areas strategic focus reflects its relevance to a number of government and industry strategies. For example the commitment towards a low-carbon economy by 2050 has led to an increasing focus on more-electric and all-electric aircraft and low carbon propulsion systems in vehicles. The area has the potential to deliver advances in the short, medium and long term, and is vital to addressing numerous societal and industrial challenges.

To address fundamental challenges, we aim to:

  • strengthen leadership across all career levels, and particularly early career research, to build capacity in this research area
  • increase connectivity between researchers in this area and researchers across relevant areas and disciplines (for example materials engineering, manufacturing and superconductivity)
  • work with the EPSRC Centre for Power Electronics, universities, industry and small and medium-size enterprises to align and connect strategies, maximise existing investments and ensure industrial translation
  • work with the community to identify fundamental challenges that can be addressed to enable future growth and increased impact.

Fundamental challenges could include improving electric machine performance, reducing weight and cost, increasing reliability and eliminating critical materials.

Why we're doing it

This area has a large industrial focus, with support for research and innovation primarily coming from industrial sources. The increasing amount of activity in this research area reflects strong industry interest. There remains, however, a number of significant underpinning research challenges.

The Automotive Council’s Advanced Propulsion Centre was formed in 2013 to help the automotive industry meet the challenges of decarbonisation. This includes development of electric machines and power electronics. The Aerospace Technology Institute has highlighted the need to develop new electrical power systems for use in more electric aircraft.

Power electronics is enabling rapid growth and innovation in four sectors of recognised UK strength:

  • electrification of transport
  • energy generation, transmission and distribution
  • efficiency gains in consumer electronics and lighting
  • industrial drives.

Efficient energy conversion and associated control solutions are essential if the UK is to create a low carbon economy, and critical to this is the creation of the smart grid. The National Grid has been identified as an ideal host due to the old grid infrastructure, providing an opportunity to contribute to the concept and implementation of the smart grid.

Supporting developments in many areas

Electrical Motors and Drives and Electromagnetics research area contributes towards developments in a number of other application areas including robotics and renewable energy technologies (for example wind turbines). Within EPSRC, it pulls upon developments in the Control Engineering, Materials Engineering, and Superconductivity research areas, and has broader relevance to developments in Energy Networks and Whole Energy Systems.

The development of the power electronics hub (associated with the EPSRC Centre for Power Electronics) has provided some level of community focus. Training in this research area is primarily supported through the doctoral training partnership allocation. We will continue to assess the supply of students.

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships. Find out more about research area connections and funding for electrical motors and drives and electromagnetics.

Find previously funded projects on Grants on the Web.

Who to contact

Last updated: 21 December 2022

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