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Novel sensors and techniques for high voltage insulator inspections

Project Description

Transmission system operators rely on periodic inspection and maintenance of high voltage transmission lines to guarantee a high reliability of their networks. In particular, a key element of the overhead lines, the insulators have to be monitored to assure their mechanical and electrical performances are adequate for all their life expectance (40years)are inspected using visual high definition, corona and infrared cameras installed on helicopters. The maintenance is performed by special crew who has to climb the towers and perform maintenance operations at height and if double circuits are present, very often one of the circuit is live, and the one under maintenance is earthed. Any new inspection technique may improve the rate of detecting problems on the system. The adoption of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system or robotic devices to access the overhead line and the insulators offers the possibility to perform a closer inspection than using helicopters and it can reduce the number of operations at height and in difficult environment by the tower crew. The lower distance between the device and the system, offers the adoption of new type of sensors to detect possible problems earlier than currently adopted methods, in particular pollution on the insulator surface and its degradation.
The project will investigate a wide range of non-contact probes and test techniques for the identification of problem on the system (e.g. pollution on insulator surface, surface degradation and hydrophobicity reduction, localized discharges). The research will have to investigate a wide range of electromagnetic spectrum from infra-red, microwave and radio frequency ranges in order to evaluate their optimal capability to detect insulator problem earlier as possible. Multi-physic simulations and high voltage experiments will be performed to verify the capability of the probe/technique selected in High Voltage laboratory on artificially polluted and aged insulators.

The candidates initial Research plan and the Development Needs Analysis will help to identify the expertise already developed in previous experiences by the student and the areas that need to be more developed. After this initial period, the student will develop mathematical modelling and laboratory experiments in the high-voltage and high-frequency laboratories to identify the suitable sensors for this research. Regularly weekly meeting will be scheduled and a brief agenda with some notes of the work performed will be circulated to the supervisors in advance. The students will benefit of the wider availability of the supervisor for regular meetings and for any issues on high voltage aspects; The tracking and planning of various research activities will take advantage of cloud based software (One Note and MsTeam)


You should have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK.

Applicants with a Lower Second Class degree will be considered if they also have a master’s degree. Applicants with a minimum Upper Second Class degree and significant relevant non-academic experience are encouraged to apply.

Funding Notes

Full awards, including the Tuition fee and maintenance stipend (Approx. £14,777 in 2018/19), are open to UK Nationals and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements. To be eligible for the full award, EU Nationals must have been in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the course for which they are seeking funding, including for the purposes of full-time education.


Applications should be made online at:

Please note the following when completing your online application:

The Programme name is Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering with an October 2019 start date.

In the "Research proposal and Funding" section of your application, please specify the project title, supervisors of the project and copy the project description in the text box provided.

Please select “No, I am not self-funding my research” when asked whether you are self-funding your research.

Please quote “project ID” when asked "Please provide the name of the funding you are applying for".

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