Electrical motors and drives / electromagnetics

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 area's strategic focus reflects its relevance to a number of government and industry strategies (e.g. 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, over the Delivery Plan period 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/disciplines (e.g. Materials Engineering, Manufacturing and Superconductivity)
  • Work with the community to identify fundamental challenges that can be addressed to enable future growth and increased impact. These could include improving electric machine performance, reducing weight and cost, increasing reliability and eliminating critical materials. We will work with the EPSRC Centre for Power Electronics, universities, industry and small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) to align and connect strategies, maximise existing investments and ensure industrial translation.

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 remain, however, a number of significant underpinning research challenges.

The Automotive Council’s Advanced Propulsion Centre has spokes in Electric Machines and Power Electronics (Evidence source 1,2,3) while the Aerospace Technology Institute has highlighted the need to develop new electrical power systems for use in more-electric aircraft (Evidence source 4).

Power electronics is enabling rapid growth and innovation in four sectors of recognised UK strength (Evidence source 5): electrification of transport; energy generation, transmission and distribution; efficiency gains in consumer electronics and lighting; and 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 (Evidence source 6).

Electrical Motors and Drives/Electromagnetics contributes towards developments in a number of other application areas including robotics and renewable energy technologies (e.g. wind turbines). Within EPSRC, it pulls upon developments in the research areas Control Engineering, Materials Engineering, and Superconductivity, 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, and training in this research area is primarily supported through the Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) allocation. We will continue to assess the supply of students over the current Delivery Plan.

This area has significant potential to contribute to the Productive and Resilient Nation Outcomes, including the following specific Ambitions:

P1:  Introduce the next generation of innovative and disruptive technologies

Research in this area will be critical and could include developing new magnetic materials with fewer losses, or managing resources more efficiently and sustainably.

R4: Manage resources efficiently and sustainably

Reducing the use of rare earth element permanent magnets in electric machines can contribute to this.

R1: Achieve energy security and efficiency

There is potential for significant impact through the transition to hybrid-electric and all-electric motors.

Research area connections

This diagram shows the top 10 connections between Research Areas within the EPSRC research portfolio. The depth of the segment relates to value of grants and the width of the segment relates to the number of grants shared by those two Research Areas. Please click to see the related Research Area rationale.

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EPSRC support by research area in Electrical motors and drives / electromagnetics (GoW)
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Contact Details

In the following table, contact information relevant to the page. The first column is for visual reference only. Data is in the right column.

Name: Engineering Team
Department: Engineering
Organisation: EPSRC