Our postdoc student receives EAWE Excellent Young Wind Dr Award

Dr Laith Rashid received the EAWE Excellent Young Wind Doctor Award

One of our postdoctoral students in the School, Dr Laith Rashid, won the EAWE Excellent Young Wind Doctor Award last year for his research into the effects of wind turbines on radars.

For the first time, as a result of Dr Rashid's work on the EPSRC's Supergen Project, a standard desktop PC is able to run detailed simulations of the effects of complete wind farms on radar systems operating nearby. It is expected that this work will have a positive impact on the safety of marine and air traffic near wind farms.

Dr Rashid, who has been in his Post-Doctoral position for over a year now and expects to continue working on the project until 2013, said: "Over the past few years there have been a lot of objections from government organisations and radar operators about the construction of wind farms which may affect the performance of radar such as used for Air Traffic Control and other applications. This can be safety critical so it is extremely important to find solutions to this problem. Due to their large size and the rotation of their blades wind turbines can appear to the radar as aircraft or other large targets.

"So under the Supergen project we were tasked with researching and modelling the radar interference and find possible solutions. That's where I came in with Prof Brown.

"Currently we are trying to exploit the models that we've developed and further extend their capabilities. In this way we hope to be able to help minimise these impacts so that wind farms can be deployed more readily. The models show very good potential, and can be developed further to meet industrial standard expectations. So we're thinking about using this work in a commercial way. But right now we are extending the models for marine radars to model more complex radar systems. We are also engaging with wind turbine manufacturers, wind farm developers and radar key stakeholders to help build a computer simulation tool that will assist them in meeting the Governments targets for wind energy."

Prof Brown, who led the project and nominated Dr Rashid for the award which was presented at the Delft Technical University in the Netherlands, added: "This research provides a truly original insight into the effects of wind farms, not just single turbines, on radar systems.

"Wind farms can indeed substantively affect the safety critical and other radar systems both onshore, in the marine environment and on airborne platforms.

"What is unique and important about Dr Rashid’s work is that for the first time a comprehensive simulation of a whole wind farm (as well as a single turbine) is possible within a normal workstation computational environment.

"The result is an accurate yet computationally attractive whole wind farm simulation including the mutual interactions between turbines in an array.

"The power of the approach is such that it allows such details as the effect of the lightning protection system applied to the blades and the use of carbon fibre or radar absorbing materials in part of the blade structure to be included in the simulation.

"Dr Rashid's thesis concentrates on marine radar as this has been largely ignored in prior literature yet is extremely important in maintaining safety at sea near offshore wind farms. The work however has now been extended to look at aircraft and other applications"

Social responsibility activities in the School

The challenges facing the education sector in Africa, and Zambia in particular, are many and varied. They span all aspects of education from pre-school, primary and secondary school through to vocational as well as higher education.

Delivery of quality education at all these levels is hampered by lack of both financial and human resources, especially in the face a rapidly growing population. The consequence has been a gradual deterioration in the standards of education, which must be stemmed.

The EPA project which was funded by the British Government was aimed at bringing together institutions of higher education in Africa and the UK to work on ways to address some of these issues. Under this programme, the University of Manchester, (through the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering) and the University of Zambia (through the School of Engineering) embarked on a project to redevelop the final year projects module at the University of Zambia to bring it to modern standards using the University of Manchester as a template.

The project was for an 18 month period and it came to end in April 2011. Due to the success and enthusiasm of everyone involved in the EPA project, it has been possible to continue and widen the scope of the project with funding being provided by local industry ensuring long term sustainability of the initiative.

As part of the long term agenda for collaboration, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the University of Zambia and University of Manchester. This MoU will provide the framework under which the University of Manchester, as one of its outreach and social responsibility activities, will work with the University of Zambia, initially through the school of engineering, to review and improve the quality assurance systems and processes in engineering education as well as provide advice on curriculum review including reequipping of the teaching laboratories.

The required funding for these programmes will be provided by local industry in Zambia. The ultimate objective is to secure international accreditation of the engineering degree programmes at the University of Zambia.

News and events 2012

EPSRC UK ICT Pioneers 2012 prize winner in the School

Mr. Mohammadreza Sadeghi

Mr Mohammadreza Sadeghi, a 2nd Year PhD student in the School working with Prof Mo Missous, has been awarded the EPSRC UK ICT Pioneers 2012 prize in the category of "Connected World".

This is an intensely competitive internationally recognised award with more than 90 bright UK PhD participants every year. The aim of this award is to recognise the most exceptional UK PhD students in ICT-related topics who are able to communicate and demonstrate the excellence and exploitation potential of their research. 

Reza was also selected as a finalist for the IET innovation awards for his innovative product "Ultra Sensitive Quantum Hall Effect Contactless Current Meter". Entrants to this competition included many major companies and organisations from all over the world and only 5 were shortlisted out of 440 entries.

Reza started his PhD programme after successfully completing his first Class Honours degree at the University of Bolton. He received the Governors' prize for the top student of the Electronic and Computer Engineering department. He is currently 18 months into his PhD programme under the supervision of Professor M. Missous working on advanced NanoTesla 2DEG Quantum Well Hall Effect sensors. Reza is an IET and IEEE student member.

Arago Cross-Arm Technology Wins National Innovation Prize

Arago Technology Ltd was presented with the Power & Energy Award at the IET Innovation awards ceremony, which was held last Thursday at The Brewery, London.

The company, spun out from The University of Manchester by its technology transfer arm, UMIP, was awarded the prize by the judges in recognition of its work in developing the Insulating Cross-arm (ICA), which has the potential to enable electricity network operators to increase transmission capacity of existing lines. The ICA, which has been developed over the last 4 years, can be retro-fitted onto existing electricity pylons allowing voltage and / or current upgrade and may reduce the height of new build electricity pylons.

Arago's revolutionary insulator was developed by engineers at the University in a joint venture with EPL Composite Solutions Ltd. The Insulating Cross-arms have been installed for over 2 years on pylons in some of the most stark and remote areas of the UK to test their resistance to extreme weather and since May 2012 they have also been continuously energised and monitored at voltages required for the 400,000 volt transmission network at a coastal site in northern Scotland.

Tests have also been carried out at the University's High Voltage Laboratory which has subjected them to lightning strikes of more than 1.4 million volts.

Arago is currently seeking further investment to complete final development of this technology with deployment of the ICA orders already secured on the transmission system, commencing in 2014.

David Gardner, Director of Transmission for Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc said: "This innovative technology has the potential to deliver a cost effective way of increasing the power carried on our transmission network. We have worked closely with Arago to help develop the technology to the stage it has reached today and we are delighted to see that Arago have received this recognition for this work"

Robin MacLaren, designate chairman for Arago Technology Ltd said: "Winning the IET Award confirms that our innovative technology is world class and has the potential to deliver real solutions for society. We are very proud to have won this award and look forward to supporting the development of Transmission networks throughout the world to support the connection of new low carbon generation, and upgrade existing infrastructure."

Ian Welch, innovation manager for National Grid, said: "Innovation will be vital for energy network companies as we meet the challenges from the huge changes underway in how we generate our electricity.  We have supported this project right from the early laboratory concept, so we are delighted to see it win the award."

Project funding to-date by National Grid, Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc, and The University of Manchester Intellectual Property’s Proof of Principle fund, managed by MTI Partners, totals £2.5m.

Ofgem gives green light to Low Carbon Networks Fund

Ofgem has approved £45.5 million for five innovative projects which aim to help make the electricity distribution network smarter and meet the challenges of moving to a low carbon economy (Ofgem's Press Release). Two of these projects have the involvement of the Electrical Energy & Power Systems (EEPS) Group and account for a total cost of £11.4 million.

Electricity North West's CLASS (Customer Load Active System Services) project (£7.2m) looks at investigating how reducing voltage on the distribution network can reduce peak demand.

Southern Electric Power Distribution & EA Technology's Innovation Squared project (£4.2m) will trial a technology that will allow a cluster of electric vehicles to recharge without stressing the distribution system and trial the delivery of a network project by a third party.

The funding comes from the LCN Fund which is now in its third year. The fund supports projects which display the potential to accelerate the development of a low carbon energy sector, provide value for money to customers and deliver financial benefits to consumers.

EU Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) - Clean Sky Grant Electrical Aircraft Drives

Efficiency gains in aircraft adopting more-electric systems are set to be examined during a recently awarded grant of €348,000.

Dr Judith Apsley, based in the Power Conversion Research Group in the School is leading the grant which was awarded by the EU JTI Clean Sky Green Regional Aircraft. She is supported by colleagues in Power Conversion, new academics, Dr Rebecca Todd and Dr Sinisa Durovic, plus Professor Andrew Forsyth and Dr Nigel Schofield, together with Dr Dave Drury from the University of Bristol.

Increasing numbers of electrical systems are being utilised on aircraft to manage power more efficiently and reduce fuel burn and engine emissions. This project will develop enhanced simulation models of electrical machines and power converters which enable losses to be evaluated over a range of electrical system architectures and operating scenarios. Energy management strategies will be devised to improve system efficiency.

We are selected by Maxon Motor for their UK student programme

Maxon Motor

In September 2012, the University of Manchester took delivery of over 80 precision components, suitable for small servo systems, as part of the Maxon Motor UK student programme. The components will be used to support teaching over all 4 years, and are particularly valuable to illustrate lectures relating to the mechatronics degree stream.

The machines are currently being evaluated to enhance second-year line-following robotsthird-year projects and are ideal for electronics club. Other ideas could see them used for scale models of renewable energy systems and lab experiments on sensors and actuators.

For further details please contact Dr Judith Apsley.

Power Conversion Group goes hiking

It was early in the morning, the commuters in Piccadilly station weaved around and through a group of assorted 'hikers'. A few in the group appeared prepared for arctic conditions (former boy scouts maybe?), several were in jeans (did they not understand British weather?), some had matching outfits and one soul had his worldly possessions (and several lunches plus a breakfast) in a carrier bag! The group was Power Conversion having a summer outing.

The group stumbled to Platform 1 – destination Edale in the nearby Peak District National Park. Upon arrival finally preparations were made; home-cooked flapjack was handed out (tasty but also an able double as a weapon of mass destruction), waterproofs we're readied, another member of academic staff appeared (he'd expanded overnight, that'd be his stash of pork pies!).

Off we set, the sun was out, were we really in the heart of England? We passed a few pubs (sadly closed till lunch) on the way to Grindsbrook. Half way up Fox Holes the rain descended on us, it took a break at the summit, and then resumed shortly along Upper Tor. The views, the company, no work for a day… nobody minded the rain.

A traditional stop-off at a hostelry for food and refreshment left us all prepared for the train back to Piccadilly. No injuries, no-one lost, success; several were asleep on the train, though Prof remained conscious, just!

Your roving reporter; T. Rodd (ice-packs on knees)

Smart Cities 2012

The Electrical Energy and Power System Group in the School was proud to organize from the 5th to the 7th of November 2012 the course "Smart Cities: planning and operation of future urban energy systems" within the EES-UETP partnership.

The course gave both industrial practitioners (technicians, engineers and managers) and young academics and researchers a fundamental understanding of the major issues that are behind the emerging concept of Smart Cities that will see the simultaneous presence and interactions of highly distributed generation, demand response, storage, multi-energy networks, smart devices, and new business models.

The following topics were addressed:

  • Fundamentals of urban energy system planning;
  • Impact analysis and optimal integration of distributed generation, demand response and storage in low and medium voltage networks;
  • Techno-economic and environmental assessment of district energy systems and multi-generation;
  • Impact of the electrification of heating and transport in urban areas and smart control for system support;
  • ICT requirements and integrated power and ICT analysis;
  • Power quality and protection issues and solutions in future urban networks;
  • Innovative concepts for reliability assessment of future distribution networks;
  • Technical and commercial aggregation concepts (such as microgrids and virtual power plants) for distributed energy resources in an urban environment;
  • New business models and commercial, regulatory and policy issues in Smart Cities.

For more information, please see the EES Smartcities Brochure or contact the organizers Dr Pierluigi Mancarella and Professor Jovica Milanovic.

Our PhD student receives the Best Student Paper Award

Mrs Atia Adrees won the Best Student Paper Award for the paper entitled "The Effects of Uncertainty in Mechanical parameters on SSR in Meshed Power Networks with Different HVDC Technologies" at recently held 12th International Conference on Probabilistic Methods Applied to Power Systems, PMAPS 2012, held on 10-14 June 2012 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Atia is second year EPSRC/Power Network Research Academy scholar working in Electrical Energy and Power Systems Group under supervision of Professor Jovica Milanovic on "Identification and control of Sub-synchronous resonance in meshed power networks with multiple series compensation devices and HVDC lines".

She joined Electrical Energy and Power Systems Group of the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering in in Ocotber after receiving her BSc and M.Sc degrees in Physics from The Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan, and her BEng (Electrical & Electronic Engineering) and M.Sc (Control Systems) degrees from The University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.

Saving the planet, one microwave at a time

We live in a throwaway society where electrical and electronic products are replaced frequently due to changing technology or fashion. For example, domestic microwave ovens are replaced on average every 7 years.

A microwave oven typically consists of 20kg of copper, steel, alloys, plastics and glass. These materials have been extracted from the earth and at the products end-of-life they are returned to the earth as landfill. Government agencies, environmentalists and industry now realise that such consumption is unsustainable.

At The University of Manchester, our researchers have been focussing on the functionality of disposed microwave ovens and have found that 85% were either in a fully functional state or easily repairable. Clearly, there are re-use and extended life opportunities that are being missed.

The researchers, PhD student Azadeh Dindarian and her supervisors Professor Andrew Gibson and Dr Joao Quariguasi are now being recognised for their work and recently have been featured on Wednesday 16th May in METRO (see picture) and Telegraph newspapers as well as on BBC Manchester Radio programme with Alan Beswick.

Azadeh said: "Electronic waste is a global problem and I feel privileged to be able to research the subject area. I am passionate about finding ways to reduce the amount of waste and my project addresses the possibility of re-using discarded electrical equipment."

Professor Gibson said: "Azadeh is working on a pioneering research project concerning the sustainability of core materials for the manufacture of electrical and electronic equipment. For the first time, a study is underway to look at the quality of disposed electrical goods. The results we have so far obtained are surprising in that the majority of disposed microwave ovens are either fully functional or easily repaired. The hard practical fault-finding data is what makes this project unique."

Dr Quariguasi Frota Neto added: "There is no reason for throwing away as many microwaves as we do in the UK and elsewhere, and I hope our research helps consumers, manufacturers and governments to understand that."

£1.5M funding for Autonomous System Applications

The University of Manchester is a core partner in a new project called Growing Autonomous System Mission Management Applications (GAMMA). GAMMA is an £8.8M project on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Autonomous Systems which has been 50% funded by the Regional Growth Fund, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, UK and the remaining 50% funded by the consortium partners. The University of Manchester is collaborating with the North West Aerospace Alliance Ltd., BAe Systems, National Nuclear Laboratory Ltd. and the Universities of Liverpool, Salford, Lanchaster and Central Lancaster on this project. Several prospective SMEs are also envisaged to engage during the evolution of the project. The University of Manchester has a 17% share in this project corresponding to £1.5M."

New staff members in Electrical Energy and Power Systems Group

Dr Pierluigi Mancarella joined the EEPS group in May 2011 as a Lecturer in Sustainable Energy Systems and Power Systems Economics. Before then, he worked in Italy for two years as Research Fellow at the Politecnico di Torino (where he got his PhD in Power Systems) and for three years as a Research Associate at Imperial College London. Pierluigi's research interests include modelling and analysis of multi-carrier energy systems (electricity, heat, gas, transport), impact of future technologies on networks and energy system operation, energy markets, and risk analysis of network investment. He is author of two books, five book chapters, and more than 60 highly cited research papers on techno-economic analysis and environmental impact assessment of multi-energy systems. He has been involved and led several projects and work packages in UK and European projects on distributed energy systems, demand response, and business cases for new technologies.

Dr Luis nando Ochoa joined the EEPS Group in January 2011 as a Lecturer in Smart Distribution Networks. From 2007 to 2010 he was a Research Fellow in Energy Systems at the University of Edinburgh, UK. In 2010 he also undertook an industrial secondment with the Edinburgh-based company Psymetrix Ltd (now part of Alstom Grid). Nando's research interests include network integration of distributed energy resources, active network management and future distribution networks. He has more than 70 research papers in peer-reviewed top ranked journals and top class international conferences and is also co-inventor of one patent filed by Psymetrix Ltd. Nando is also actively involved in working groups in IEEE and CIGRE.

Dr Konstantinos Kopsidas (or Kostas) is a Lecturer in Electrical Energy and Power Systems Group of Manchester since 2010. He studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering in Greece and in UK, at UMIST, where he received 3 awards of excellence. He obtained his MSc in 2005 and his PhD in 2009. Kostas leads various projects in UK in the field of Overhead Line Planning and Operation in which he is considered an expert. He has also been a part of Arago technologies since the start of the company, collaborating in the development and evaluation of composite cross-arm, an Energy Innovation Centre award winning technology. He is author of more than 20 research papers in peer-reviewed top ranked journals and top class international conferences, on the areas of overhead line design, smart technologies for voltage and current uprating, electromagnetic fields and acoustic noise on distribution and transmission networks. His research interests are concerned with Smart Grid realisation through various ways of increasing power transfer capacity of distribution and transmission networks. Such methods include incorporating system compaction, loadability optimisation and incorporating novel technologies, in order to allow for flexible power network expansion-operation so as to allow for integration of renewables and other generation. He is also interested in the evaluation of network reliability under smart technological implementation (demand side management, storage, FACTS, HVDC, dynamic thermal rating).

IEEE PES 2011 conference on Smart Grids

On 5th - 7th December 2011 The School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering hosted an IEEE Power and Energy Society international conference on Innovative Smart Grid Technologies – Europe 2011 at Manchester Central. With delegate numbers of over 500, this was probably the largest and most successful electrical power systems conference ever held in the UK. ISGT is a major international energy conference designed to help businesses and research organisations looking to develop sustainable power systems for the future. Professor Jovica Milanović, General Chair and Professor Peter Crossley, Technical Chair, from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Mr Mike Kay, Corporate Affairs Chair, from Electricity North West Ltd. chaired the conference, placing the University of Manchester at the heart of the international smart grids community.

With delegates from over 40 countries, and over 200 organisations involved, IEEE PES "Innovative Smart Grid Technologies" Europe 2011 brought some of the most internationally respected figures from academia and industry to Manchester. The conference featured over 360 presentations in a full programme with 232 papers, 4 tutorials, 28 panels, 18 keynote speakers, and special student and women in engineering sessions. The practical experiences, challenges and trends in Smart Grid implementation were discussed over the three days during these conference sessions and while visiting exhibition stands of the 25 exhibitors. The conference was made possible by drawing on the existing links and partnerships of the School, and we would like to thank the generosity and support of our four Gold Supporters: Alstom Grid, Electricity North West, Siemens and Wipro; and six Silver Supporters: ESB International, MIDAS, National Grid, Omicron, PBSI Group, and Toshiba Research Europe."

Download the event flyer ISGT Conference Progamme for more infomation

For more information about the ISGT Europe 2011 conference, please visit:

Prof Gaydecki’sTeaching Excellence Awards 2011 and beyond

This year, Professor Patrick Gaydecki was successful in winning a Teaching Excellence Award (2011-12) in what was a highly competitive field.

Patrick's commitment and contribution to Teaching and Learning in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and beyond has been described as inspiring to students and staff alike. As an experienced academic and educator, Patrick has provided leadership in addressing the present challenges, as well as mapping out future directions.

Some of Patrick's contributions to Teaching and Learning are outlined below:

Undergraduate teaching

Teaching of Digital Signal Processing (DSP) to 3rd year undergraduates, and to 2nd year undergraduates on the Computer Systems Engineering stream. This course was written by him and is based on his book, Foundations of Digital Signal Processing: Theory, Algorithms and hardware Design. The course also includes practical laboratory exercises in real-time and offline DSP, using software and hardware that he has designed.

Postgraduate teaching

Patrick developed and is responsible for the Digital Image and Signal Processing (DISP) MSc and teach Advanced DSP to all students enrolled on the DISP and Communications Engineering MSC courses. Again, teaching is based on his book, but the course differs significantly from the undergraduate syllabus. It extends the basic treatment of DSP to more advanced topics, including adaptive filters, specialist audio operations, real-time signal synthesis and manipulation, and the detailed algorithmic development of the fast Fourier transform. All lectures are accompanied by interactive electronic notes in PDF format. Similarly, the lectures are complemented by an in-depth practical laboratory course designed to reinforce the taught material. One of the challenges associated with postgraduate teaching is that it is difficult to ascertain in advance the background competencies of the students. To address this issue, two years ago Patrick introduced optional remedial introductory lectures, which are delivered on Wednesday afternoons at 14:00. These have proven very popular, and are attended by virtually the entire cohorts of both MSc programmes.

Student questionnaire returns are always very positive and that was verified when Patrick was awarded the "Legendary Lecturer Award 2011"; an award nominated by students of EEE and presented during the EEE Society Ball.

Professor Gaydecki quoted; "I feel both honoured and humbled to receive this award. It was made possible by working in a school in which all staff are encouraged to deliver to a standard worthy of this institution".

EEE Manchester becomes a LabVIEW Academy

The LabVIEW Academy will place EEE in a unique position to offer its students courses that are accredited by National Instruments (NI).

LabVIEW will be an integral part of our degree programmes. Students will be taught Data Acquisition and Industrial Control applications in the LabVIEW structured environment, and will have regular hands-on contact with the relevant hardware, particularly ELVIS and myDAQ. This will be carried out under the auspices of NI, as the professional curriculum is given to the students. Students will be able to take a free exam on their knowledge of LabVIEW at Manchester, and if successful, will be accredited by NI with a Certified LabVIEW Associate Developer certificate, an accreditation which is coveted by Industry.

Learn more about LabVIEW Academy at www.ni.com/academy.

X-ray Beam Positioning Monitor technology

UMIP has assisted Dr Roelof van Silfhout from the School to license his X-ray Beam Positioning Monitor technology which provides detailed diagnostics of the impinging beam during measurements using highly focused beams.

Dr van Silfhout developed the Nano Beam Position Monitor (BPM) with the aid of a grant of £405,500 from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Further funding was acquired under the EPSRC's "Collaboration Fund" which required a collaborative partner, FMB Oxford Limited. The funding enabled further research and development of the technology and the creation of an initial prototype which met industry need.

The BPM is the only technology of its kind in the world. To date, patents have been granted across Europe and the USA for both the product’s design and function.

The project was unusual as the BPM technology was licensed as a complete product with the relevant technology, hardware and software already in place. The fact that the product was operational at the time of the approach made it attractive to the licensee, FMB Oxford Limited. FMB is highly involved in the ongoing development process of the BPM and associated technologies. It is anticipated that the technology will have uses in synchrotron radiation centres across the globe, where its speed and simplicity is likely to have a huge impact on quality and precision of research conducted with X-rays.

Dr van Silfhout commented: "The BPM provides the missing link for synchrotron radiation facilities and will enable quicker and more accurate testing to take place. We are very excited to announce the licensing deal, which will enable us to continue our research and development of the BPM into the future."

It is anticipated that, in addition to its use in the synchrotron based X-ray measurements the BPM could be developed for the healthcare industry, where precision beam positioning is necessary in radiotherapy treatment. There is also scope for using key components of the system as a smart camera.

Speaking about the licensing deal, Managing Director at FMB, Nigel Boulding commented: "Our collaboration with UMIP has been very successful. Our first production systems have now been tested on a synchrotron and these have delivered the promised performance. We look forward to significant sales of this novel BPM over the next few years."

As a result of the licensing deal, The University of Manchester has secured additional funding for a PhD student to work alongside Dr van Silfhout on the further development of the BPM and associated technologies.

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