A new £40m research facility that will drive forward advances in powerful, clean electrification technology and pave the way towards a new generation of low-carbon, sustainable electric vehicles, power and propulsion has been unveiled by the University of Nottingham.
The state-of-the-art Power Electronics and Machines Centre (PEMC) on the university’s Jubilee Campus was officially opened by the university’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Shearer West, on Wednesday 29 June.
The PEMC offers purpose-built laboratories for the Power Electronics, Machines and Control research group, the largest such group of researchers in the world, and sits at the heart of the university’s commitment to establishing Nottingham and the East Midlands as a hub for the translation of net zero technologies from research bench to real world solutions.
The building is also home to the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)-funded Driving the Electric Revolution Industrialisation Centre - Midlands, which is developing innovative technology and manufacturing processes for advanced electrical machines and drives to support the UK’s net zero ambitions. It also houses the 20MW UK Electrification of Aerospace Propulsion Facility, which offers industry testing at a scale unrivalled by any other research centre in the world.
The facility is funded by UK Research Partnership Investment Fund, Wolfson Foundation, UK Research and Innovation, D2N2 and industry partners.
Professor Sam Kingman, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Faculty of Engineering, said:
“The creation of our new Power Electronics and Machines Centre is truly game-changing when it comes to the future of transportation electrification, including the aviation and automotive sectors.
“Our 20 megawatt UK Electrification of Aerospace Propulsion Facility (UKEAPF), which sits within it, allows us to test electrical propulsion systems powerful enough for regional and medium-haul aircraft. No other research institute in the world can offer this to the emerging electric transport propulsion industry.
“We’re using our test beds to look 10 years or more into the future, trying to solve the problems industry doesn’t know they’ve got yet while also working closely with industry to understand and help solve their needs for today.”
The group of 170 researchers is internationally leading across many application and research areas relating to high performance electrical machines and power electronics, with over 720 papers in top journals over the last five years and more grants from Europe’s Green Transport research programme than any other EU or UK based university. With around 80% of research funds related to or directly from industry, aerospace applications make up the largest proportion of research for example on high power density motors and power electronics.
The group is leading the development of electrification standards as well as technology roadmaps for zero-emissions flight for regional aircraft. The facility will now enable researchers to put their technology through rigorous test regimes and work with industry from automotive, rail, marine and aerospace to realise the products of the future.
Professor Shearer West, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham, said:
“By March 2024, we estimate that £470m worth of industrial work will align with the PEMC facility, and with the support of partners our ambition is to make the East Midlands the world’s foremost location for low-carbon aerospace innovation.
“Our investment also reflects a long-standing commitment to sustainability. We support Nottingham's goal to be a net zero carbon city by 2028. Further investment to make our buildings more energy efficient, as well as enhancing on-campus energy generation and our heating networks on University Park and Sutton Bonington will help achieve our own carbon reduction targets.”
The PEMC building lies at the heart of the university’s plans to develop research and innovation clusters over the next five years, a key pillar of the government’s innovation strategy, which will generate significant regional economic benefit while addressing strategic challenges faced by the UK.
A key focus will be its cluster for zero carbon innovation. Nottingham is among the top five institutions globally for translation of zero carbon research and its partnerships with government and industry will widen the real-world impact of that research in key areas such as electrification for transport, technologies for net zero aviation, developing green fuels and low energy solutions for the built environment.
To find out more about how to use the new facilities at the Nottingham PEMC, please get in touch.