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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P511092/1
Title: NanocompEIM Phase 2 - Nanocomposite Advanced Electrical Insulation Systems for Enhanced HVAC and HVDC Energy Networks
Principal Investigator: Vaughan, Professor A
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Electronics and Computer Sci
Organisation: University of Southampton
Scheme: Technology Programme
Starts: 01 October 2016 Ends: 31 December 2019 Value (£): 375,708
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Design & Testing Technology Materials Processing
Sustainable Energy Networks
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Two of the most critical global challenges currently being faced are energy security and climate change. In the UK, massive investment will be required in the next decade, both to replace ageing plant and to allow for the incorporation of renewable sources. These changes will involve a paradigm shift in the ways in which we generate and transmit electricity. Since a central element of all items of power plant is electrical insulation, meeting our future energy challenges will involve the deployment of new innovative plant which, in turn, will require the development and exploitation of a new generation of high performance insulation materials.

This project brings together Alstom Grid, Supergrid Institute, GnoSys Global and the University of Southampton. This consortium will develop advanced materials for use in next generation HVAC and HVDC systems, which will reduce carbon emissions, improve security of supply and reduce overall costs. The strategy centres on the use of nanocomposites as high performance dielectrics - nanodielectrics - and although this concept has attracted enormous interest since first being proposed in the mid-1990s, the field is plagued by irreproducibility. Indeed, entirely contradictory effects are often reported for nominally equivalent systems. Thus, while it has been shown that nanodielectrics can exhibit greatly improved properties, if the technological potential of these materials is ever to be realised, then it is essential that production strategies be developed to fabricate materials repeatably with known and controlled structures and properties.

The work programme builds upon and exploits the NanocompEIM feasibility project supported by TSB (Ref.101144) and will progressively build from optimising functionalised and reactive nanofillers to meet wider applications in insulating components, through industrial scale up of materials processing, to the manufacture and testing of large components. The work is divided into a number of work packages (WP). In WP1, functionalised and reactive nanofillers will be optimised to meet identified HV application needs; WP2 will concern the industrial scale-up of materials processing for reliable large volume rapid batch processing of nanocomposites, together with the development of quality assurance metrics to ensure reliability and repeatability. In WP3, the resulting materials will be used to manufacture a number of large components, which will subsequently be tested in WP4, to verify large component performance. These results will be fed back into WP1 for further refinement of material factors. WP5 will focus on exploitation and dissemination and will include value-chain analysis and the development of strategic partnering and licensing strategies to facilitate broader use of the IP produced in the project. A key element in this is the establishment of custom materials supply and production arrangements through GnoSys, which will directly facilitate the adoption of the materials we will develop outside the immediate consortium. Finally, WP6 will be devoted to effective project management.

From the above, sound quantitative structure-property-process relationships (QSPPR) will be established that will enable nanodielectrics to be used reliably within industry. It is commercially innovative to carry out this development with the engagement of the complete supply chain, from materials suppliers, through manufacturers of components and equipment, to end users in the form of the UK transmission system operators. While the project will focus on the electrical application of nanocomposites, the consequences of the knowledge produced will be much wider, since the QSPPRs that will emerge will be applicable in many different technology areas that employ advanced materials. As such, this project will generate a range of environmental, economic and societal impacts.
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Organisation Website: http://www.soton.ac.uk