Main Research Projects (2004 - present)

The research projects of the Advanced Control and Network Technology Research Unit 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:

Networked Control Systems

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.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

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.

Advanced Battery Development

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.

Industrial Advanced Control 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.