Why is transport important?

With the current global climate, conventional road transport systems powered by internal combustion engines (ICEs) suffer ever-tightening restrictions on emissions. Vehicles on UK roads produce an estimated 20% of our greenhouse gases. When you combine this with the scarcity and fluctuating price of oil and the fuel economy and engine efficiency of a vehicle becomes of paramount importance. More efficient engines will reduce these emissions, however considering the maximum theoretical Otto-cycle efficiency of between 35-37%, alternative propulsion systems must also be considered.

Bigger reductions in vehicle emissions and significant efficiency improvements can only be achieved through electric- and hydrogen-based propulsion systems, which are sometimes referred to as ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs). Low emission vehicles are currently still more expensive than the average ICE vehicle. However, new battery and fuel-cell technology can reduce these costs.

As these electrical energy storage systems improve, the transportation sector can move to broader implementation of electrical propulsion by motors. Fault-tolerance can be included into these electrical machines for safety-critical systems such as seen in aerospace applications. Often such electrical machines can also be incorporated into safety-critical applications such as ABS, power assisted-steering, traction control and steer/fly-by-wire systems.

Our expertise and activities

  • We lead the only government-funded centre for training PhDs on energy storage.
  • We are part of the UK Transport Systems Catapult.
  • We have extensive lab facilities for battery cell chemistry, and battery testing at all scales.
  • We have a range of lab facilities for the prototyping and testing of electrical machines of all types and sizes.
  • We have an agreement for collaborative research with the Network Rail: Rail Innovation and Technology Centre.
  • We work closely with the Advanced Manufacturing Centre.
  • We are work with a wide range of partners including Nissan, Jaguar Land Rover and Rolls Royce.

Detailed research areas


  • Carbon-fibre composites for vehicle bodies
  • Active vehicle suspension
  • Anti-lock braking/traction control
  • Exhaust gas energy recovery
  • Electrical torque boosters for down-sized ICEs
  • Free-piston energy converters
  • Mild hybrid/integrated starter-alternator systems
  • Integrated modular drives for parallel hybrid vehicles
  • Hybrid and fully electric vehicles
  • Embedded-systems for electric vehicles
  • Intelligent state-of-charge and state-of-health battery monitoring
  • Vehicle to grid (V2G) operation for distributed energy storage
  • Second life operation of EV batteries
  • PM traction machines for low-speed passenger vehicles


Intelligent systems engineering involving detection, sensing, communication, materials, structures and software technologies that can be applied to rail infrastructure, operations and traffic.

Aerospace and aviation

  • Electrohydrostatic flight control surface actuation
  • Electromechanical flight control surface actuation
  • 'More-electric' aircraft engines
  • Fault tolerant drives
  • Aviation turbines, and use of alternative fuels


  • Sensorless control of matrix converters for thrusters on deep-sea 'remotely operated underwater vehicles' (ROVs)
  • High speed permanent magnet generators for marine applications
  • Integrated starter-alternator systems

Key people (A-Z)

Dr Simon Blakey
Senior Lecturer, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Professor Peter Fleming
Professor of Industrial Systems and Control, Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering

Professor Dan Gladwin
Lecturer, Electronic and Electrical Engineering

Dr Bhupendra Khandelwal
Lecturer, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Professor Dave Stone
Professor, Electronic and Electrical Engineering

Professor Jiabin Wang
Professor, Electronic and Electrical Engineering

Professor Zi-Qiang Zhu
Head of Electrical Machines and Drives Group
Electronic and Electrical Engineering

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