Net Tech, formerly the Advanced Control and Network Technology Research Group, specialises in advanced control theory and industrial control technology, which received grade 2.6 in RAE 2008 and grade 2.47 in REF 2014.
The research unit has been in existence for over 20 years and has collaborated with both industry and research groups in the UK, Europe and the world. Since RAE 2008 the members of the unit have published more than 80 journal papers and 70 conference papers, and two books.
The team has widespread expertise in both control theory and industrial applications. In view of Professor Guoping Liu’s landmark contributions to research in the field of engineering, he has been named amongst Highly Cited Researchers by Clarivate Analytics, a list of the world’s leading scholars in the sciences and social sciences.
Professor Liu was selected as a Highly Cited Researcher in the five consecutive years between 2014 and 2018 due to the number of citations his work has received from his fellow researchers. Essentially, his peers have identified his contributions as being among the most valuable and significant in the field of engineering.
In further recognition of his accomplishments, Professor Liu has been listed in the The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds: 2014. This report can be found at ScienceWatch.com.
It has focussed its efforts on advanced research towards the creation of novel theory and technology for control systems for many years.
In particular, the work on advanced control theory and its industrial applications is highly recognised internationally.
This unit provides an excellent base for developing new control strategies for control systems, particularly, Internet based control systems and control technology of industrial fuel cells.
Researchers work closely with colleagues in the Centre for Automotive & Power Systems Engineering (CAPSE), an internationally recognised independent research, development, test and certification house. CAPSE has a reputation for cutting edge research and knowledge transfer activities within the advanced automotive and power systems engineering sectors.
Research projects are mainly funded by EU-FP6, EU-RDF, EU-SF, EPSRC, HEFCW, DTI, TSB, ESRC, WAG, Energy Saving Trust, Royal Society, Leverhulme Trust and industrial companies. The main research areas are as follows:
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.
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.
The advanced battery development covers fundamental research, development and testing of a variety of battery technologies using advanced optimisation, modelling and control strategies. The research unit is equipped with advanced battery development facility which has the potential to revolutionise the global battery industry by producing bipolar batteries that are up to 40% lighter, 20% smaller, have 40% more energy capacity and twice the lifespan of traditional lead acid batteries. The bipolar batteries are more environmentally friendly using up to 50% less lead and produce 80% less CO2 during the manufacturing process. They are 100% recyclable and will be significantly cheaper than other battery types under development such as lithium technologies. The bipolar batteries have the potential for use in a wide range of applications including the automotive industry and particularly the development of hybrid and electric vehicles. Also, they have the potential for use in telecommunications, providing uninterrupted power supplies, stationary power and renewable energy power storage, both solar and wind 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.
We welcome applications for postgraduate research in one of our areas of expertise. You can study full or part time, on campus or remotely (depending on your area of Engineering). Find out more on the Graduate School website or contact Professor Nigel Copner.
Click on the links to see research outputs and publications, or search for expertise in our research repository.