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Research projects:
Grand Challenge 1.1

Realising novel machine design freedoms from innovative manufacture

Electrical machines design has arguably been limited by traditional manufacturing techniques, which in turn reinforces the stasis in design and reticence of manufactures to consider alternatives. In work package 1.1 we will focus on harnessing emerging and innovative manufacturing methods to realise alternative machine topologies and to demonstrate how performance, efficiency and material utilisation can all be improved if new techniques and processes are adopted.

Focus 1: Modular components: the effect of manufacturing on performance and tolerance.

The modularisation of electrical machines offers benefits such as denser windings, improved thermal capability and an ability to discretely alter power output. Assembly is however more complex and manufacturing tolerances have an effect on electromagnetic performance through the introduction of small, unintended airgaps into the magnetic circuit. 

Electrical machines with a modular structure require more individual components than standard designs, are dependent on the tolerance between components and require more manufacturing steps which may affect electromagnetic performance and mechanical integrity. A series of machine modules will be manufactured, inspected using a high-resolution 3D visioning system and compared to the original design to quantify the difference in design and manufactured components. 

Changes during batch production will be tracked and quantified and electromagnetic performance measured. These results will be fed back to an adaptable electromagnetic model, to enable more accurate design informed by manufacturing processes. 

A range of machine topologies will be considered with suitability for modularisation ranked. Continuous laminated profiles (an extruded 2D form), variable laminated structures (2.5D and 3D forms), soft magnetic composites (3D forms) and hybrids will be considered in order to develop and classify versatile modular structures which offer improved mechanical integrity, electromagnetic performance and easier assembly. 

This work will help the machine designer and manufacturer to assess when, how, and when not to modularise.

Focus 2: Integrated design using new manufacturing methods and materials to enhance power density.

The power density of an electrical machine is strongly reliant on ability to reduce losses and the removal of excess heat. Using additive manufacture and new composite materials, we will investigate the integration of complex features and structures to reduce loss and remove heat. Heat pipes, custom designed heat removal structures and thermally conductive composites will be

considered for integration into the machine to enable higher electrical loads within the thermal limits. Precision formed coils will be incorporated to take advantage of better thermal conductivity and higher current densities. This work will be to demonstrate the increased power density and higher.

For more information on this project please contact Glynn Atkinson from the Electrical Power Research Group at Newcastle University.