The University of Southampton

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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Published: 
6 August 2010
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Some members of the Electrical Power Engineering (EPE) research group recently presented their research at the 21st international symposium on Electromagenetic Phenomena in Nonlinear Circuits (EPNC), taking place in Dortmund and Essen, Germany. One participant, Richard Chippendale, was presented with the International Journal for Computation and Mathematics on Electrical and Electronic Engineering (COMPEL) award for the best presentation by a young researcher.

Richard is a postgraduate researcher working in the EPE group and Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory at the University of Southampton. Having previously completed his first degree in Physics at the University of Southampton he is now working towards a PhD modelling the thermal damage in carbon fibre composites. During his first year his modelling work has shown some new and unexpected results which he presented at the symposium in his paper titled “Transport Properties and Current Flow Patterns in Homogeneous Strongly Anisotropic Materials”.

Richard says, “As part of my work on anisotropic materials I have developed a number of numerical models to explain material behaviour. These models displayed very unusual current flow patterns which we had not seen before. My paper demonstrated experimentally that these anisotropic current flow patterns can exist, confirming the predictions from the numerical models which is a valuable step in our understanding of the potential of these materials. I am grateful to the University for funding my attendance to the symposium and the organisers for giving me the opportunity to present my findings.”

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Published: 
30 September 2010
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The Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory and Electrical Power Engineering (EPE) Group were proud to host the first in a new series of meetings organised by the Dielectrics Group of the Institute of Physics (IOP).

The new series, named "Dielectrics on Tour" (DoT), aims to provide a new format for scientists and engineers interested in dielectrics to access and explore research laboratories around the UK. Emphasis is placed on the interaction and discussion of work between early career researchers.

The first event took place on 23 September 2010 hosting 18 visitors from a selection of UK businesses and universities. Four presentations were prepared and delivered by PhD students and early career researchers covering the research areas within the TDHVL. Presentations covered areas on high voltage test techniques, condition monitoring, charge transport and space charge. In the afternoon participants were invited to explore the high voltage laboratory with researchers on hand to discuss the equipment and methods they were using. The day ended with an open discussion, chaired by Prof. Alun Vaughan, generating interesting ideas and discussion relating to the research and experiments seen by participants throughout the day.

A consensus between participants was that a continuation of these events would be a great opportunity to experience the differences between research laboratories across the UK and interaction between different research groups; another is in planning for summer 2011. The organiser Dr David Swaffield said: "It was a privilege to host the first of these events and was a rewarding experience for our research staff and students. I'm pleased that it attracted so many visitors to the laboratory and hope they enjoyed their day."

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Published: 
30 September 2010
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The IEEE Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society (DEIS) UK Chapter held its inaugural meeting in the Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory on the 23rd September 2010.

The UK Chapter has 48 voting members in the UK, 12 were present at the meeting and several decisions made. The Chapter will collaborate with UHVnet and the IOP Dielectrics and Electrostatics Groups to organise a postgraduate and early career researcher event, to be hosted by the University of Southampton in January 2011. The Chapter will also be a technical co-sponsor of Dielectrics 2011 taking place in Canterbury, 13th-15th of April, 2011.

The structure of the Chapter committee was agreed in principle. Ultimately, it will consist of three executive officers and six "members-at-large". In order to start organising events, elections were made for next year and further elections will take place over the next 12 months. The following appointments were made:

Position Period Member Affiliation
Chapter Chair January 2011 – December 2012 Professor Paul L. Lewin University of Southampton
Chapter Treasurer January 2011 – December 2012 Professor Alun S. Vaughan University of Southampton
Member-at-Large January 2011 – December 2012 Mr. Antonios Tzimas University of Manchester

"Our aim is to provide a UK forum for technical discussion on all aspects relating to electrical insulation and dielectric phenomena" said Prof. Paul Lewin (chair elect). "This will be inclusive and bring active researchers, academics and industrialists together to discuss topical issues."

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