Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering


Power electronics

We are involved with the development of inductive power transfer (IPT), motor control, electric vehicles, power electronics systems and magnetic modelling. Long term we aim to make IPT systems cost competitive with wired systems and extend the range of applications.

Research


In the area of IPT research this group is arguably the recognised world leader in medium to high powered systems. With IPT electrical power may be delivered without electrical contact to stationary or moving loads.

IPT technology is now used by the Biomedical Institute at The University of Auckland in the area of biomedical implants. It is also used by licensed industrial partners through Auckland Uniservices Ltd. These partners include:

  • Daifuku Company Ltd. in Japan with materials handling and clean room applications.
  • Conductix-Wampfler AG in Germany with applications in major German car assembly plants.
  • 3i Innovations Ltd. with Smart Road Studs for use in traffic control and marine systems worldwide.
  • Cabco Industries Ltd. with hands free charging applications for kid carts in shopping malls.
  • Lextar Pty Ltd in Australia with applications in wireless security systems.
  • Dream Solutions Ltd for applications in stage lighting.

Example systems are shown in the photos below. Other applications of the technology are being investigated and there are important research collaborations pending.

In the past decade, power levels for IPT have increased from a few watts to several hundred kW. Such progress is placing stress on the available components and complexity of the control strategies to maintain stability. The goal is to make the system cost competitive with conventional wired systems.

Power electronics research and magnetic modeling combine in the area of IPT to find means of improving the quality of supply while reducing costs. New areas of research at both PhD and masters level include improved low cost power supplies, high band width communications, self tuned high-power pick-up regulators, better magnetic structures and improved controllers.

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IPT technology in practice


The following images provide an insight into how IPT technology is being put to use by some of our industrial partners.

1. Inductively powered monorail system

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Bogie
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Schematic cross section of magnetic pick-up and track

2. Clean room systems courtesy of Daifuku Ltd

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Silicon chip manufacture
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A large stock crane for LCD pallets

3. Vehicles charged using inductive powered systems

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Conductix-Wampfler electric people mover at Whakarewarewa, Rotorua, New Zealand
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Cabco Kid Karts in situ in a US shopping mall

4. Roadway lighting courtesy of 3i Innovations Ltd

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Double left turn in Illinois, USA
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Mount Victoria tunnel Wellington, New Zealand

5. 3D finite element modeling of E-shaped IPT pick-ups

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Staff


Academic

Research Fellows

  • Dr Tobias Geyer
  • Dr Nick Keeling - email: nakeeling@gmail.com
  • Dr Michael Kissin
  • Dr Duleepa Thrimawithana
  • Dr Edward van Boheemen
     
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Contact


Associate Professor Grant Covic
Phone: +64 9 373 7599 ext 88102
Email: ga.covic@auckland.ac.nz

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