Engineers at Warwick will take a leading role in securing the UK’s low carbon future after being awarded two major research projects into the development and application of novel Power Electronics devices and solutions. In total, five Underpinning Power Electronics (UPE) projects, each worth £1.2M and lasting three years, have been awarded to UK University consortia by the EPSRC, in association with the Centre for Power Electronics. These will each focus on a different part of the power electronics supply chain, but have the shared ambition to deliver wide bandgap semiconductor devices and applications that realise the full energy saving potential of this emerging technology.
Dr Peter Gammon will lead the Switch Optimisation theme, in which a team from Warwick (including Prof. Phil Mawby as a co-investigator), Cambridge, Coventry and Newcastle Universities will develop and commercialize ultrahigh voltage silicon carbide (SiC) transistors. With voltage ratings in excess of 15 kV, SiC IGBTs are a considerable processing challenge that requires extremely high quality starting material, state of the art semiconductor fabrication and expertise in device simulation and optimisation. At nearly 10 times the voltage rating of any SiC device on the open market, these devices have the potential to make considerable gains in efficiency for the National Grid, in particular when connecting off-shore wind power to the network.
Dr Layi Alatise will lead the Reliability and Health Management theme comprising of Warwick, Bristol, Nottingham and Newcastle Universities. The other Warwick based co-investigators include Jose Ortiz Gonzalez and Prof. Li Ran. The research proposed in this project builds on previously funded EPSRC grants on components integration in power electronics where condition monitoring techniques have been proposed for SiC power devices. The objective of the research proposed here is to implement condition monitoring and health management technologies for SiC and Gallium Nitride based power devices using novel and innovative gate drive techniques. The overall ambition is to deliver improved power density in power electronic converters without compromising on reliability.