Historical Projects

The following page gives a flavour of the sorts of project that the individual researchers are involved with.

A feedback control system wherein the control loop is closed through a real-time network is known as a networked control system. We have proposed several control strategies for networked control systems and studied the random time-delay on the Internet, and stability and robustness of Internet based control systems. Currently, an Internet based servo control test rig (i.e., the controller is in the Chinese Academy of Sciences in China and the servo plant to be controlled is in the University of Glamorgan in the UK) has been established and various internet based control experiments were carried out, which have successfully demonstrated the effectiveness of our proposed networked control strategies. Recently, we organised two special sessions on networked control systems for UKACC Control ’04 in Bath in 2004 and an invited session on design and analysis of networked control systems at the 16 th IFAC World Congress in Prague in 2005. One member of the research unit was invited to give a one-hour keynote speech on networked control systems at the IEEE International Conference on Networking, Sensing and Control in Arizona in 2005. The main contributions to networked control systems are:

NETWORKED PREDICTIVE CONTROL: The network in a system leads to various problems, e.g., random time delay and data dropouts, which dramatically degrade the control performance of the controlled system. We proposed a new approach – networked predictive control, which actively compensates for the random network delay and data dropouts so that the closed-loop networked control performance is very similar to the one without network.

STABILITY AND ROBUSTNESS ANALYSIS: The presence of communication delays makes system analysis much more complicated. The research that focuses on stability and robustness analysis of networked linear/nonlinear control systems has provided advanced control algorithms, new control structures and implementation techniques for various industrial applications. Some criteria on stability and robustness of Internet based control systems have been obtained.

Modelling and Control of Fuel Cell Systems: A fuel cell basically consists of an anode and cathode separated by the membrane. Hydrogen is passed over the anode and oxygen over the cathode. The hydrogen is then split into its proton and electron elements, of which the proton freely passes through the membrane to the cathode. However the electrons cannot freely pass through the membrane and therefore follow an electrical conducting path to the cathode, generating electricity as the electrons flow with zero emissions. The electricity is then utilised for industrial and domestic electrical systems, including electrical motors which drive vehicles. Research activities in the research unit focus on the modelling, simulation and real time deployment of advanced fuel cell control strategies to improve critical system performance characteristics.

INTELLIGENT ELECTRIC TRIBRID DELIVERY VEHICLE: A unique intelligent control system is being developed to form an intelligent tribrid powered delivery vehicle specifically designed to give the delivery industry an environmentally friendly zero CO2 emission alternative to diesel based fleets at comparable costs to existing vehicles. The tribrid system will make use of a smal sized PEM fuel cell, a new cheap reliable lead acid battery with light weight and a recently developed ultra-capacitor. Working with 6 industrial companies, the world’s most efficient electrically powered delivery vehicle solution is being developed.

ELECTRIC HYBRID MIDI BUS: The specific technical challenge of a fuel cell hybrid midi bus is the large weight when fully loaded, combined with large low end torque requirements to initially start movement. The problem will be further compounded at hilly geographical locations requiring the midi bus to be capable of uphill starts. Working with four industrial partner companies, the research unit is developing a high torque midi bus vehicle solution. The midi bus will utilise a novel motor which can produce maximum torque from start. A revolutionary light weight battery solution and the unique developed control system will be employed. It will be the first public transportation demonstration project within Wales and will be utilised by local council’s and public bodies to promote CO2 free technologies.

Industrial Applications: The system identification and control research expertise is applied in industrial research programmes to develop novel control technology for various industrial systems. The industrial projects include gas turbine modelling and control, active acoustic control of combustors for gas turbines, adaptive predictive control of combustor Nox emission, adaptive optimal control of hydro turbines, optimal-tuning control for hydraulic position systems, auto-tuning PID controller, design for rotary hydraulic systems, multi-loop PI control of power station, multiobjective optimal controller design for a gasifier, nonlinear modelling for car suspensions, modelling and control of fuel cell powered electrical vehicles, intelligent control of rotary dryers, transport system modelling and analysis, and splicer process modelling.

Construction materials

Research deals with the environment and sustainable development which concerns us all. Emphasis is on the production of novel cementitious materials with enhanced durability by effective utilisation of existing materials (particularly waste materials), with the object of reducing the environmental impact of building materials production by reduction in energy demand and raw materials extraction. Current projects include the investigation into utilisation of waste as a sustainable source of construction material, including metakaolin (MK), pulverized-fuel ash (PFA), ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS), slate waste and sludges/ashes from: municipal, sewerage, water treatment, wastepaper and other waste streams. Recent successes in research include EPSRC grants and various collaborative industrial research projects, which are totalled up to £500,000.

Applications of GIS and Remote Sensing in Water Resources Management

Research in this area focuses mostly on water resources and environmental applications of satellite Remote Sensing and GIS (Geographical Information Systems), particularly in semi-arid regions (e.g. Lake Chad Basin) to map hydrogeological parameters such as superficial deposits, land use/cover, soil moisture/vegetation, etc and
their impact on groundwater recharge and resource quality. Similar applications are made in temperate remote mountainous catchments (the River Fani watershed in the northern part of Albania) to map flood inundation, soil erosion and general environmental degradation through change detection and modelling. These types of mapping, modelling and assessment enable both governments and NGOs in developing countries to plan and manage water resources and the environment in a more sustainable way.

Geotechnical Engineering and Foundations

Designing and building heavy viaduct structures in areas of weak ground call for the use of piled foundations to transfer the stresses to more solid layers lying further below the surface. In the case of the Taff viaduct, which was built to carry an important link road in the Cardiff Bay development, the foundations had to be based on layers of Mercia mudstone some 20 metres deep. Designing piles to transfer loads to mudstone has traditionally relied on the geotechnical principles of piles formed in clay, using published guidelines. However research carried out in the School of Technology of the University of Glamorgan shows this approach is inherently unreliable for assessing
load bearing capacity and pile settlement wherever these particular ground conditions exist.

Structural Engineering, facilities and infra-structure rehabilitation and maintenance

All structures are designed for specific loading conditions and, like humans, they have a limited life span. Many existing buildings or infrastructure built more than twenty years ago are now subject to greater loads than they were designed. For example, the rapidly increased traffic volume over the past three decades and the heavier goods-carrying vehicles of today result in weight restrictions being applied to many of the nation’s highway bridges.
The advanced FRP composite materials, which have been traditionally used in the aerospace and defence industries, can overcome such problems and provide an effective and environmental sustainable solution. Tests carried out by researchers at the University of Glamorgan show that the FRP strengthened concrete beams can double the original load-carrying capacity.

Non-destructive methods of structural integrity determination

This on-going research interacts with the R&D on repair and rehabilitation of structures. It is focused to determine and evaluate structure (residual) strength utilising neutral and remote methods so that the assessment in is non-contact and non-invasive. Of the methods actively developed is the NDT evaluation using Infrared Thermographic technique. In this method maximum use is made of the heat transfer properties within the structural component. The data is then interpreted to estimate the state of integrity or distress in the element. In addition there are other projects such as the following which have not been expanded.

The Mechanical Engineering Research Unit currently offers a variety of R&D opportunities in theoretical, experimental and mixed (theory & experiment) fields. The disciplines on offer for full/part-time research include:

Prof Steve Wilcox, Prof John Ward, Dr Chee Keong Tan, Dr. S.M. Thai “REAL–TIME INTELLIGENT DIAGNOSTICS AND OPTIMISATION OF REHEATING FURNACE PERFORMANCE (SMARTFIRE)” Sponsor: Commission of European Communities. Value: circa £180,000, Duration: 01/07/2005 – 01/01/2009.

Dr Trevor J. Price and Dr R. Garwood 'Biokerosene: a renewable biofuel for domestic space heating’
Sponsor: Two EPSRC Industrial CASE Awards; Oil Fired Technical Association (OFTEC). Value: circa £120,000 Duration: 01/03/2003 – 30/09/2009.

Mr. Paul Rogers, Dr. Alex Z. S. Chong & Prof. Steve Wilcox “Virtual Crash Testing of Specialist Wheelchair”. sponsor: EPSRC (CASE for New Academics) and the NHS value: £63,000 of funding awarded. £48k from the EPSRC, £15k from NHS. Duration: 01/04/2004 – 30/03/2007.

Prof. Steve Wilcox, Prof. John Ward, Dr. Alex Chong & Dr. Shee Meng Thai. “Optimisation of Biomass Combustion on Chain Grates” Sponsor: The Carbon Trust value: £98,000 duration: 01/08/2004 – 28/02/2007.

Dr. Alex Z. S. Chong & Prof. John Ward “Commercial Development of an Innovative Low-Cost Bio-Fuel
Burner” sponsor: Knowledge Exploitation Fund – Patent and Proof of Concept (PPOC) value: £88,000, duration: 01/04/2005 – 30/06/2006.

Dr. Robert Tucker, Prof. John Ward, Dr. Alex Chong & Dr. Chee Keong Tan. Development of a Radiant Recuperative Burner for Industrial Furnaces Using Permeable Ceramic Membranes sponsor: The Carbon Trust
value: £24,164 duration: 01/01/2005 – 31/03/2006.

Prof Steve Wilcox, Prof John Ward and Dr Chee Keong Tan Title: “Studies of fuel blend properties in boilers and simulation rigs to increase biomass and bio-waste materials used for co-firing in pulverised coal fired biolers (POWERFLAM 2)” Sponsor: Commission of European Communities Value: circa £130,000, Duration: 01/01/2003 – 31/12/2005