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Energy Systems Projects

We participate in collaborative R&D projects with a range of partners across academia and industrial sectors. Projects cover the areas of:

Energy Storage and Battery Systems

AMorpheuS: Agnostic Amorphous Silicon Alloy Anodes for Multiple Battery Systems

Funded: EPSRC (2015 - 2018)
Partners: University of Cambridge; UCL; Jaguar Land Rover; National Physical Laboratory; Oxis Energy; Sharp Laboratories

Project AMorpheuS presents an alternative way to fabricate Silicon anodes that does not rely on complex, costly nanostructuring or attempting to control electrode architectures. The approach is simply to deposit from solution using
electrodeposition methods and to passivate the amorphous thin films with polymer chemistries that have already been shown to be effective as binders for Si electrodes. A fundamental understanding of the structural and surface properties of these electrodes will be obtained during realistic battery operation so as to identify the optimum Si alloy and polymer chemistry and optimise performance rationally. This project will develop Si electrodes that are not exclusively destined for use in Li-ion systems but can also be reversibly cycled in Na-ion and Li-S batteries. A variety of Si-alloy chemistries will be explored, including Si-Sn alloys, since these show considerable promise as anodes for Na-ion batteries. A goal is to develop the first Si-based Na anode.

AMPLiFII: Automated Module-to-pack Pilot Line for Industrial Innovation

Funded: Innovate UK (2015 - 2017)
Partners: Alexander Dennis; Ariel; Jaguar Land Rover; JCB; Delta Motorsport; Potenza; HORIBA MIRA; Trackwise; Axion Recycling; Augean; University of Oxford

The AMPLiFII consortium brings together OEMs, supply chain partners and technology providers. The project aims to create a UK supply chain for fully qualified battery packs to suit hybrid and electric vehicles across a range of automotive markets. A modular battery architecture will be designed, based on cylindrical cell formats, developed for both high power and high energy requirements. The common architecture will allow supply chain partners to aggregate demand for components for many applications and benefit from economies of scale.

A battery pack manufacturing pilot line has been constructed at WMG as part of the project and will allow manufacturing processes for high quality pre-production prototypes, which blend appropriate levels of manual and automated assembly methods. The pilot line will become an open facility following the end of the project – operating as part of the Energy Innovation Centre.

AMPLiFII also aims to develop new knowledge, skills, technologies and facilities to support UK industry seeking to implement new processes and technologies for next generation battery systems.

EFES: Ebbs and Flows of Energy Systems

Funded: EPSRC / Innovate UK (2015 - 2017)
Partners: Cenex; KAM Futures; Energy Saving Trust; Manchester Science Partnerships

The project aims to demonstrate the development, impact and business potential of a Virtual Power Plant (VPP) energy management system integrating: building energy management; renewable electricity generation; electric vehicles; battery storage systems. The project solution will reduce electricity cost, CO2 and demand on both domestic and commercial sites. More information>>

ELEVATE: Electrochemical Vehicle Advanced Technology

Funded: EPSRC (2014 - 2018)
Partners: Loughborough University; Jaguar Land Rover; Intelligent Energy; Yuasa Battery UK; National Physical Laboratory; SSE; Johnson Matthey; HVM Catapult; Lotus Engineering

One of the most promising routes for decarbonising the transport sector is the use of electrochemical power and storage technologies (e.g. batteries, fuel cells and supercapacitors). However, challenges persist in terms of performance, durability, cost, integration together within vehicles (hybridisation) and interfacing with the electricity grid.

The ELEVATE project is working on a technology innovation chain that adopts a system-to-materials approach. The project will identify, optimise and scale-up new materials into devices; develop novel diagnostic techniques in the lab and for on-board monitoring and control; and validate the technologies in a hybrid vehicle.

HEDB: High Energy Density Batteries

Funded: Advanced Propulsion Centre (2016 - 2018)
Partners: Nissan; Zero Carbon Futures; Hyperdrive Innovation; Newcastle University

The consortium, led by Nissan, brings together engineers, researchers, new technology and existing facilities, assets and knowledge to create and prove new and improved manufacturing processes for the next generation of automotive batteries.

WMG has particular skills around battery chemistry and the manufacturing processes used to scale this up to high volume production. WMG’s role in the project will be to investigate potential improvements to battery chemistry and increases to manufacturing yield, and to optimise automated manufacturing processes to enable Nissan to remain at the forefront of electric vehicle technology.

PALIS: Protected Anodes for Lithium Sulfur Batteries

Funded: EPSRC (2016 - 2019)
Partners: University of Oxford; Johnson Matthey; ilika

This collaboration aims to jointly develop a high energy density protected anode material for Li-sulfur batteries (LiSBs), as a low cost alternative to traditional lithium-ion. The project will evaluate protection mechanisms for anode materials. Without the protective layer, anode materials show little reversible capacity. These protected anodes give a much higher cycle life that can compete with traditional LiB (~500-1000 cycles at least before 80% initial capacity is reached). This is an innovative energy storage solution to be used in conjunction with renewable energy harvesting, with around three times more energy density than the current technology.

WMG will work directly with JM and Ilika to develop the high energy protected anode composites and also optimise the Li-S electrodes in conjunction with Oxford for both high energy and cycle life. The aim of the research is to provide new anode and cathode materials for high energy LiSBs, which will surpass performance levels of the commercialised Li-ion graphite systems.

SINTBAT: Silicon based materials and new processing technologies for improved lithium-ion batteries

Funded: EU Horizon 2020 (2015 - 2019)
Partners: VARTA; CEA; EurA Consult; Uppsala University; Materials Centre Leoben; University of Warsaw

The Sintbat project aims at the development of a cheap energy efficient and effectively maintenance free lithium-ion based energy storage system offering in-service time of 20 to 25 years. Insights gained from advanced in-situ and in-operando analysis methods will be used for multi scale modelling targeting the simulation of ageing mechanisms for a reliable lifetime prediction and enhancement. In addition, the latest generation of anode materials based on silicon as well as a prelithiation process for lifetime enhancement will be implemented in the cell manufacturing process. For more information...

SUPERGEN Energy Storage Hub

Funder: EPSRC
Partners: University of Oxford; University of Bath; University of Birmingham; University of Cambridge; Cranfield University; Imperial College London; University of Southampton; UCL

The project is establishing a strong SUPERGEN Energy Storage Hub with senior investigators recognised as excellent nationally and internationally in their fields of research. The Hub will advance the UK's Energy Storage capability (i.e. strengthen links, research synergy, road mapping, networking etc). SUPERGEN: More information>>

VLR: Very Light Rail

Funder: Future Railway/RSSB

This is a collaborative project with industrial partners to develop a radical train featuring self-propelled bogies and offering significant reductions in vehicle weight. The target specification is for an 18m long 60 seat railcar with a weight per linear metre of less than 1 tonne (less than half the weight of current vehicles) and a target selling price on £500k, significantly less than for current vehicles. By integrating a high efficiency diesel hybrid powertrain onto the vehicle bogies the project will deliver a proven sub-system that is a product in its own right, allowing vehicle integrators around the world to use proven powertrain solutions.

Energy Management and Electrical Systems

Agile Power Management Systems for Marine Vessels

Funded: Innovate UK (2016 - 2018)
Partners: Babcock

The project will develop a new approach to the specification and implementation of marine power management systems to improve efficiency and adaptability. An Agile Power Management System will be developed, demonstrating a capability to interface with multiple power sources and energy storage systems to meet the varying load demands across a range of marine vessels. This will enable the optimisation of energy management by intelligent control of power distribution in a way that is tailored to a specific vessel. As a result, vessel owners will be able to minimise their fuel consumption, improve maintenance regimes and reduce environmental impact.

C-MADEnS: Consortium for Modelling and Analysis of Decentralised Energy Storage

Funded: EPSRC (2015 - 2018)
Partners: University of Leeds; EDF; Leeds City Council; Birmingham City Council; Northern Powergrid; Moixa Energy; Engineering YES; SSE; Tata Steel; GDF Suez; Leeds City LEP; UK Power Networks; Hubbard Products; Department of Energy and Climate Change; EDF; Highview Power Storage; University of Birmingham; Loughborough University

The project aims to realise the potential offered by emerging technologies for decentralised storage of a range of energy vectors at the city scale. This project will use a variety of tools and methods, including technology validation, techno-economic modelling, innovation studies and public attitude surveys, address specific barriers to the deployment of city-scale energy storage. The tools and methods will be demonstrated through a number of case studies analysing opportunities for energy storage deployment in the cities of Birmingham and Leeds.

Frost EV Systems

Funded: Knowledge Transfer Partnership (2015 - 2018)
Partners: Frost EV Systems

This project will drive significant change within Frost EV Systems. It aims to develop new computer simulation models and the control algorithms that are required to integrate the company’s new power electronic systems within future electric and hybrid electric vehicles.

Off-Highway Intelligent Power Management

Funded: Innovate UK (2015 - 2017)
Partners: JCB; Pektron

The purpose of this collaborative project between JCB, Pektron and WMG is to lead industrial research into a range of novel technologies which could significantly increase the efficiency of off-highway vehicles. The world leading partners will bring together their expertise to analyse, develop and optimise off-highway vehicle systems to increase their efficiency whilst reducing fuel consumption and emissions. The results will disseminate into future product developments allowing customers to reduce the carbon footprint of their projects and benefit from increased competitiveness.

Optimised Electric System Architecture

Funded: Innovate UK (2016 - 2017)
Partners: GE Power; University of Nottingham

This joint initiative between GE, WMG and the University of Nottingham is focusing on innovation in the field of marine energy and power systems. The consortium draws on key strengths i.e. GE’s UK engineering talent, Whetstone testing and Rugby manufacturing facilities combined with WMG’s expertise with motors and University of Nottingham’s analytics. The project’s outcome is an optimised electric system with DC architecture, energy storage and high power-density motor with innovative cooling to benefit major naval programmes, both in the UK and abroad.

RESOLVE: Range of Electric Solutions for L-category vehicles

Funded: EU Horizon 2020 (2015 - 2018)
Partners: Piaggio; Austrian Institute of Technology; Bosch; Czech Technical University; IDIADA Automotive; Kiska; KTM; Magneti Marelli; RE:Lab; Ricardo; University of Florence; University of Pisa; Wamtechnik

The RESOLVE project aims to enable the development of a range of cost effective, energy efficient and comfortable ELVs (Electric L-category Vehicles) that will primarily attract ICE car drivers to switch to ELVs for daily urban commutes.

The RESOLVE project will develop components and systems that meet the very low cost requirements for the segment, particularly modular and scalable LV-specific electric powertrains and battery architectures. At the same time the project will deliver an exciting and attractive ELV driving experience by proposing new concepts (tilting & narrow track), while keeping the vehicle energy consumption at very low level. All the advances will be demonstrated in two tilting four wheeler demonstrator ELVs (L2e and L6e category), though a large number of such advances will also be applicable to the complete range of ELVs (including powered-two wheelers). The RESOLVE consortium is optimally positioned to drive such innovations: PIAGGIO and KTM are the 2 largest LV manufacturers in the EU and the whole ELV value chain is represented, complemented by top component suppliers and universities. More information>>

Energy Conversion - Electric Machines; Power Electronics; Transmission

Advanced Transmission and e-drive for High Value Hybrid Drive Vehicles

Funded: Advanced Propulsion Centre (2015 - 2019)
Partners: Hofer Powertrain; Yasa Motors

The partners have been awarded an APC grant to develop a premium, high performance driveline solution for application in future vehicle programmes. The APC grant will support the development of a completely new generation of technically advanced driveline modules offering significantly improved CO2 figures for high performance vehicles. It will also improve the UK’s development and production capability for advanced driveline solutions through the transfer of skills and research experience of transmission systems from hofer Germany to hofer UK as well as the development and productionisation of advanced axial flux e-motors by YASA Motors from their factory in Oxfordshire.

Affordable, Future-Proof, Rapid Charging Infrastructure for Electric Freight Vehicles

Funded: Innovate UK (2017 - 2019)
Partners: Zapinamo; Farmdrop

The project is funded under the low emissions freight trail (LEFT) scheme to provide a rapid charging facility for Farmdrop's fleet of electric vans. Zapinamo's technology uses on/off grid and renewable sources for EV charging and is capable of delivering over 400kW to charge a vehicle in minutes. This represents a step change in how we charge EVs as it is the first charging technology which can meet the demands of electric commercial vehicles with long and demanding duty cycles.

WMG's role in the project draws on its experience of complex power electronics based systems in defining the power conversion technology for the local battery energy store which delivers the fast charging whilst being gradually recharged from the mains. This will develop highly efficient power converters using new wide band-gap semiconductor devices to provide the basis for future advances in Zapinamo’s system.

HVEMS-UK: High Volume E-Machine Supply from the UK

Funded: Advanced Propulsion Centre (2015 - 2018)
Partners: Jaguar Land Rover; Midlands Tool & Design; Tata Steel UK; Motor Design Ltd; Grainger & Worrall; Newcastle University; HSSMI; Horizon Instruments

This project lays the foundations for Jaguar Land Rover and UK suppliers to combine their powertrain expertise and experience in a new, collaborative environment. This project will create an experimental "make-like-production" facility in which Jaguar Land Rover and supply chain partners will participate in the investigation of manufacturing and assembly methods suitable for possible future use. The facility will include prototype machine tools and assembly systems which will allow research and innovation in this highly competitive area. The knowledge and confidence gained from the project will enable Jaguar Land Rover to continue to be market leaders in reducing consumption and emissions.

TRANSCEND: Transmission Supply Chain Excellence for Next Generation Dual Clutch Technologies

Funded: Advanced Propulsion Centre (2016 - 2019)
Partners: Jaguar Land Rover; Drive System Design; Tata Steel UK; University of Strathclyde; University of Sheffield; Productiv; Manufacturing Technology Centre

An innovative research project led by Jaguar Land Rover, TRANSCEND strives to maximise fuel efficiency whilst maintaining the in-vehicle feel Jaguar Land Rover customers expect. The collaboration will develop a new transmission based around an ultra-wide ratio dual clutch architecture incorporating Jaguar Land Rover IP. Drive System Design will lead the development of the transmission design and control while Tata Steel, Productiv and partners from HVM Catapult will be responsible for developing both the manufacturing processes required and the supply chain necessary to take the transmission to production. The transmission will also benefit from 48V mild hybrid drive. This innovative transmission will offer improved fuel economy, low weight and seamless range changing performance. The consortium members recognise the importance of collaborative advanced research projects supporting initiatives that will expand the UK’s competitiveness and develop skills, innovations and new technologies in the automotive sector and throughout the supply chain.

Doctoral Projects - PhD and EngD

Researcher: Michael Abbott (EngD candidate)
Supervisors: Professor Paul Jennings, Dr Chek Pin Yang
Project: Inductive charging for electric vehicles
The scope of the project is to look at innovative wireless charging technologies that can enhance the appeal of hybrid and electric solutions. It will also include study of the human-technology interaction and understanding how the human factor influences the misalignment and system performance.

Researcher: Anup Barai (PhD candidate)
Supervisors: Professor Paul Jennings and Dr Andrew McGordon
Project: Development of an effective way to include real world data into battery testing cycles
It is important to use real world driving cycles to standardise batter lifetime testing for automotive markets. This research will focus on determining the best approach of using real world driver behaviour for testing of BEV / HEV, taking into account different climates, road conditions and driving cultures.

Researcher: Tom Bruen (EngD candidate)
Supervisors: Dr James Marco, Professor Paul Jennings
Project: Designing the next generation of Battery Management Systems for Transport Applications
An electric / hybrid vehicle battery pack may consist of hundreds of cells with unavoidable variation in capacity and impedance between cells. Pack performance is often limited by the weakest cell so signficant gains can be made using cell balancing to alter the energy distribution amongst cells. This project aim is to assess various balancing methods, considering factors such as complexity, cost, efficiency and pack design. Balancing schemes will be designed and verified through simulation and testing.

Researcher: Gunwant Dhadyalla (PhD candidate)
Supervisors: Professor Paul Jennings, Dr James Marco
Project: Testing the robustness of automotive electronic systems
Increasingly complex electrical and software systems in vehicles make the validation of system robustness very difficult. The introduction of hybrid and electric vehicles with safety critical functionality makes this more acute. Traditional functional validation techniques have not guaranteed robustness. Many untested and unexpected use cases reveal unintended functionality (failures) and therefore vulnerability. This project asks, what is the most effective way to blend statistical and heuristic testing for validating automotive software systems robustness?

Researcher: Robert James (EngD candidate)
Project: On-Board and Off-Board data platforms
In the automotive industry, there is a strong trend toward an increased data output from the Electronic Control Units (ECU) in order to enable more complex features. The challenges that have arisen include: the bandwidth and topology constraints of the In-vehicle Network (IVN); the bandwidth and latency of wireless communication platforms (2G/3G/4G LTE) and the inability to effectively store, process and query the available information wherever it is needed. In order to make the most effective use of this data, this project aims to research techniques that can assist with data transfer and management between the On-Board and Off-Board systems.

Researcher: Jim Hooper (EngD candidate)
Supervisors: Dr James Marco, Dr Yue Guo
Project: HV Battery Durability and NVH evaluation
In the context of durability testing, the problem being investigated is the effect of vibration on electric vehicle (EV) batteries and their associated sub-components for a given design life. The aim of this project is to define and critically assess the in-service vibration and the subsequent effects on EV battery assemblies and sub-components via the collection of real world data and component testing at pack and sub-component level.

Researcher: Siddartha Khastgir (PhD Candidate)
Project: Development of a Drive-in Driver-in-the-Loop fully immersive driving simulator for virtual validation of automotive systems
The work utilises a 3xD Simulator platform to fulfil a gap in the validation methodology of autonomous features at various levels in the automotive environment. Lack of standard processes and legislation implies a challenge in the commercialisation of these systems in the context of customer acceptance levels. Development of autonomous features will depend on the ability to perform tests in a safe and reproducible manner and defining a methodology for this. This research aims to establish standards for autonomous features by developing scenarios which are reproducible in a test platform.

Researcher: Alexandros Mouzakitis (EngD candidate)
Supervisors: Professor Paul Jennings, Gunwant Dhadyalla
Project: A pragmatic model-based product engineering framework
The importance of embedded software systems in the automotive industry is increasingly dramatic. Automotive companies must create robust embedded software while managing the pressures of increased system complexity and reduced time to market. This research project investigates why automotive product development processes are lacking early error fault finding and use of automated testing throughout the vehicle systems development cycle. The project methodology will explore the use of model-based principles and test automation techniques.

Researcher: Brahmadevan Padmarajan (PhD candidate)
Supervisors: Professor Paul Jennings, Dr Andrew McGordon
Project: Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Energy Management for Real World Driving
Learn to design an anticipative rule based Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHEV) Energy Management System (EMS) that can adapt to uncertainties of real world driving in real time. Research has shown anticipative EMS enhances hybrid vehicle performance such as fuel economy, emission and component life. However current rule based EMS used in production vehicles are non-anticipative. Existing anticipative (or predictive) EMS requires knowing the exact trip demand in advance and is computationally demanding. A full parallel PHEV model is simulated to compare the proposed EMS performance against conventional rule based EMS for various real world scenarios.

Researcher: Carlos Pastor-Fernandez (EngD candidate)
Supervisors: Dr James Marco, Dr Kotub Uddin
Project: Improved state of health estimation and management within the battery management systems of future electric and hybrid electric vehicles
The aim of this project is to derive the most appropriate definition of battery state of health (SoH) and to define how, within the context of a real-time embedded control application, a measure of SoH may be meaningfully employed to improve the functional and non-functional performance of future electric and hybrid electric vehicles.

Researcher: Limhi Somerville (EngD candidate)
Supervisors: Professor Paul Jennings, Dr Andrew McGordon
Project: Techniques to determine the causes of battery cell ageing
This project aims to increase the useful lifetime of lithium-ion cells used in vehicles. In order to provide power, a lithium-ion cell must facilitate internal chemical reactions. However, as a cell is used or stored, parasitic reactions happen, which shorten the useful lifetime of the cell. It will investigate what these chemical reactions are and why they happen, then determine how automotive manufacturers might mitigate them.

Researcher: Will Suart (EngD candidate)
Supervisors: Dr James Marco, Professor Paul Jennings
Project: Future system mathematical modelling and simulation integration platform vehicles
This research addresses the challenge of how to use innovative mathematical modelling and simulation for rigorous design and analysis into high interaction multidisciplinary and diverse complex vehicles and sub systems. Currently this relies on the manual integration of specialised simulation tools to replicate the complex systems and interactions and their behaviour, which often results in sub optimal solutions, outcomes and computational effort. The aspiration of this research is to standardise integration between model interfaces through a synchronised simulation architecture platform with a potential to couple a synchronised environment of both discrete and continuous objects approximating the physical entity.

Researcher: Aimee Williams (PhD candidate)
Supervisors: Professor Paul Jennings, Dr Andrew McGordon
Project: The comparison of the fit of models to data and how this might be used to gain better understanding or categorisation of driver behaviour with respect to fuel economy
This project will develop formal methods to compare models, yielding insights by characterising the degree that the assumptions and principles utilised within the models captures the behaviour observed for the influence of driving behaviour on fuel economy. It will set out formal methods to aid in understanding the effect of different causes, classifying the degree of importance of the behaviour in relation to the effects, and the frequency with which they occur in correlation with each other for different driver behaviour and the subsequent results on fuel economy.