The University of Southampton

Published: 
24 April 2009
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The Institute of Physics (IOP) Dielectrics 2009 conference took place at Reading University, England, attracting 85 individuals from various companies and research institutions across 12 different countries. The University of Southampton sent 18 delegates from the schools of Engineering Sciences (SES) and Electronics and Computer Science (ECS). A large number of these researchers were from the Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory based at the University.

The conference spanned a wide range of themes over the 3 days including: Molecular and bulk relaxation processes, space charge and charge transport in insulators, bio-dielectrics and complex systems and functional materials. The majority of the work at the Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory covers the first two topics but the range of themes allowed our delegates to observe research completed in different fields at other institutions.

Delegates from the High Voltage Lab gave two oral presentations, one by Dr. Ian L Hosier entitled “Polypropylene based systems for high voltage cable insulation applications” and the other by Dr. George Chen entitled “Experimental Research on Cell Membrane Charging Properties Using Pulsed Electro-acoustic Method”. Researchers from the lab gave twelve poster presentations allowing the research community to see the large range of research currently undertaken at Southampton.

The next IOP Dielectrics conference will take place in 2011.

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Published: 
11 June 2009
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On a sunny Monday this week (8 June), a group of 18 undergraduates, postgraduates and lecturers from ECS took a trip up the A34 to the Oxfordshire countryside to visit the Diamond Synchrotron Light Source at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus.

This amazing facility accelerates electrons around a huge doughnut-shaped ring the size of five football pitches to near the speed of light in order to produce x-rays, infrared and ultra-violet light of exceptional quality and brightness: one hundred billion times more intense than the sun. This unique facility is used for a wide range of scientific research, leading to many breakthroughs in medicine, genetics, material science and environmental studies. After a technical introduction, the group was able to tour the facility and see first-hand, the engineering and technology involved in the acceleration and control of elementary particles.

This visit formed part of a series of biannual visits organised for the Power Academy Scheme, by the Electrical Power Engineering research group for their electrical and electromechanical engineering students. Previous visits to other facilities include: the National Grid Control Centre, Wokingham; EDF Substation, Crawley; and Scottish and Southern Headquarters, Portsmouth.

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Published: 
16 June 2009
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The 2009 conference season will see a record number of research papers being presented by staff and postgraduates from the Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory.

A total of 46 papers are due to be presented across seven conferences both within the UK and further afield, a significant increase over previous years. In recent weeks, delegations from the laboratory have presented at two conferences which cover the topic of electrical insulation: the national Insucon conference (Birmingham, UK) and the biennial IEEE Electrical Insulation Conference (Montreal, Canada). The papers were drawn from a broad spectrum of the Lab's research activity, from fundamental research on ageing in dielectric materials to more industrially-focused work such as advanced condition monitoring techniques for high voltage plant and improved techniques for calculating the current ratings for high voltage cable circuits.

All of the papers received interest from the insulation community and the authors gained a great deal from sharing their work with fellow researchers from around the world. With the conference season at its midpoint, the focus moves farther afield as preparations are made for conferences in China, South Africa and the USA.

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Published: 
18 June 2009
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At the request of the Royal Society, Dr Paul Lewin of the Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory has been a participating member of the recent European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) Working Group considering the implications of creating a European-wide electrical transmission network.

The Working Group recently presented its report to the EC Energy Commissioner at a meeting in Brussels, where it was very well received.

European energy policy seeks to achieve a pan-European energy market and a substantially increased contribution of renewable sources of electricity. The EASAC Working Group examined the developments required in grid planning, operation and infrastructure to support the process towards a united European energy grid.

Dr Paul Lewin comments: 'There is a general concern about security of supply, that is having energy resources available to generate electricity. However, this report is more concerned with operational security of supply, that is how can we ensure that the future infrastructure across Europe will deliver electrical energy from the point of generation to the user. For example, in terms of future renewable energy resources, the system must be capable of being operated in such a way that wind energy generated in Northern Europe can be supplied to Southern Europe and conversely solar energy generated in the south supplied to the north.'

The aim of the report is to advise on the steps that need to be taken to produce a European network which is reliable and secure whilst facilitating the increase in renewable generation.

The report was published in May 2009.

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Published: 
5 August 2009
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The Conference on Properties and Applications of Dielectric Materials (ICPADM) has been held once every three years since 1985. The 9th ICPADM meeting was held in Harbin (China) during July 2009 to promote the mutual understanding and international collaboration between intellectuals in China and those throughout the rest of the world.

The conference attracted around 100 delegates with around 310 papers from across the High Voltage Engineering, Electrical Insulation and Materials community for a lively discussion and debate. The conference provided researchers from both academic and industry to discuss their research and provide new ideas on the future of dielectric materials, applications in the industry and enhancing the equipment to improve our daily life.

Four delegates led by Dr George Chen from the Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory represented the University of Southampton to present 2 orals and 6 poster presentations. The presented papers received lots of interest from the electrical insulation community and the authors gained a great deal from exchanging ideas and knowledge with fellow researchers from around the world.

We are particularly grateful to the organising committee and also to the staff in Harbin University of Science and Technology for making the conference atmosphere filled with enthusiasm; the staff were very friendly, sincere, and everyone cooperative in ensuring the conference a successful one.

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Published: 
20 August 2009
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Researchers at the Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory have made an important contribution to a long overdue international standard for High Voltage measurement techniques (IEC 60060-1).

The next version of the international standard for High Voltage measurement techniques is in the final stages of preparation (IEC 60060-1). It was last updated in 1989 and the new standard will include digital techniques for automatic determination of lightning impulse waveform parameters. The new method has been developed in consultation with HV Laboratories around the world and includes a brand new zero phase implementation of the k factor that was created by researchers at the Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory.

Dr Paul Lewin, who is a member of the British Standard Institute Committee responsible for HV measurements, said 'The new standards are long overdue. There is currently no internationally agreed approach to the use of digital techniques for processing HV measurement data. It is a measure of the international standing of our laboratory that methods we have developed are to be used worldwide.' Dr Lewin was an invited expert on the International Electrotechnical Committee that developed the new draft and has previously published articles on the new technique.

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Published: 
10 September 2009
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The 16th International Symposium on High Voltage Engineering (ISH 2009) was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) South Africa. The symposium consisted of 380 papers covering electromagnetic fields, transients, outdoor insulation, diagnostics, system aspects and HV measurements. It was also a great opportunity to inform the international community of our ongoing research work at the Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory and we presented 7 papers covering a wide range of our activities in 4 of the 6 topic sessions.

Over the week the Southampton team managed to see some of the sights that Cape Town is world famous for, such as; Table Mountain, Camps bay, Cape point, Cape Town Waterfront and Simon’s Town. The Southampton team would like to extend their deepest gratitude to Prem Orrie for her taxi and tourist services throughout our stay. She helped us make the most of our time in Cape Town, kept us safe and provided fantastic local area knowledge. The African continent is famous for its wildlife amongst other things, with South Africa being residence to the big five – Lions, Leopards, Elephant, Buffalo and Rhino. Over the course of the week the team were lucky enough to see baboons, springbok, a whale, ostriches and African penguins.

For one night of the conference, a cultural evening was held at the school of music at the University of Cape Town. A medley of local and traditional African based music courtesy of amaAmbush Marimbas was particularly well received by the ISH attendees. The conference dinner took place within the CTICC with entertainment from the Cape Town Minstrels.

Overall ISH 2009 was considered a great success for all involved will a great deal of entertainment and discussion. Our thanks go to the Steering Committee, Sponsors and attending Institutions for making this the most enjoyable conference possible.

Article by Martin Reading

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Published: 
17 November 2009
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The beginning of this academic year has seen a significant increase in the number of projects and postgraduate students taking on research within the Electrical Power Engineering (EPE) group based within the School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at the University of Southampton. The group has taken on 10 more fulltime PhD students bringing our total to 24 students progressing towards a PhD.

Many of these students have moved to the EPE group after completing undergraduate study in other fields and Universities, bringing a diverse range of skills and interests to the research group. This will ensure the research and testing completed by the EPE group and Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory will always have the expertise available to maintain our international reputation.

The research topics of the new students cover a range of projects and areas, from the condition monitoring work of Jack Hunter and Hidayat Zainuddin to the materials science work of Junwei Zha and Celia Yeung. For further information about the current projects and research areas undertaken by the rest of our PhD students and postdoctoral staff see the EPE group research page.

• Jack Hunter – Identification of indicators of incipient failure of MV cable circuits • Hidayat Zainuddin – Discharge in the Inter-phase barrier region of large transformers • Junwei Zha – Corona-resistant nanohybrid films and dielectrics • Celia Yeung – Raman spectroscopy on the analysis and development of dielectric materials

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Published: 
18 January 2010
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A new MSc course - Energy and Sustainability with Electrical Power Engineering - is intended to ensure continued development in energy networks.

The new course (for 2010 entry) will consider aspects of sustainable energy generation as well as issues concerned with bulk electrical energy transport to the ultimate user. In order to design and develop our future energy networks it is necessary to have knowledge and understanding of the current infrastructure, and therefore this course will provide a solid grounding in generation, transmission and distribution engineering in addition to considering the wider issues of energy, renewable generation and sustainability.

Potential students should have (or expect to gain) a first degree in engineering, physics or applied mathematics. The course is particularly relevant for students considering a career in the electrical power industry. 'The course is designed to meet a growing specific industrial need - the development of future power engineers capable of meeting the challenge of providing secure sustainable energy to consumers in the most efficient and cost effective way possible,' said Dr Paul Lewin, Course Co-ordinator. General information about the ECS Masters Programme is on the School's MSc Web pages. Potential students interested in the MSc Energy and Sustainability with Electrical Power Engineering are welcome to contact Dr Lewin for additional information.

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Published: 
5 February 2010
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The Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory at the University of Southampton has a new system for testing the breakdown and dielectric strength of solid electrical insulating materials at commercial power frequencies within the D149 ASTM standard.

The Phenix Technologies AC dielectric test set type 600C is capable of testing up to 100kV AC at 50milliamperes. It will perform withstands at one voltage level, periodic cycling between 2 levels and monotonic voltage ramps, steps and holds. Further arbitrary voltage profile programming is possible through a programmable logical controller (PLC) through an external PC.

One of our postdoctoral researchers, Dr Chris Green, says, “This equipment gives us the ability to measure AC breakdown strengths up to 100 kV in a small space. This means that we no longer have to subject research staff and students to the inconvenience of screening off a large section of the laboratory in order to perform such tests.”

The complete system is capable of testing samples up to 600mm deep x 800mm wide x 400mm high and is available for commercial testing. Details of all the High Voltage Laboratory commercial testing facilities can be found on the commercial testing section of the website.

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