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Structurally Robust Heavy Duty Vehicular Inductive Wireless Charging Systems

   Department of Electrical, Computer, and Software Engineering

   Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


Structurally robust wireless electric vehicle charging systems are required to ensure they remain efficient and in operation over their lifespan. Materials and configurations must be fit for purpose.

Over the past 5 years the NZ government has recognised the critical importance that wireless power brings to the uptake of electric vehicles and the associated benefits that accrue as a consequence including reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved urban air quality. A large multidisciplinary team was funded to work together to develop robust roadway-charging systems for EVs. The team comprises experts from the University of Auckland’s power electronics research group, the Centre for Advanced Composite Materials (CACM), the Thermofluids Laboratory, the Transportation Research Centre and the Energy Centre working together with materials engineers at GNS Science and Victoria University in Wellington. 

Recently this team has been awarded a second MBIE Endeavour grant to continue the work for a further 5 years focusing on the entire transportation fleet, including commercial fleet and heavy-duty vehicles to enable wirelessly fast chargers at off-road hubs (250-500 kW) and wireless power to the vehicle while it is on the move (50-100 kW/m), from within selected roadways. This wider collaboration includes researchers from Auckland University of Technology, University of Cambridge UK, and a close collaboration with ASPIRE, a large multi-university NSF funded Engineering Research Centre in the USA. The team will also work closely with industry partners within NZ and globally.

Implementation of wireless charging relies upon the development of novel electronic, magnetic and mechanical pad-pavement design systems that are fit for purpose (thermally and structurally robust, and efficient in operation over their lifespan). It also relies on suitable sizing and placement to ensure operational efficiency and economic viability of electric transportation in urban and rural communities. This new research aims to provide solutions for large buses and trucks that help reduce their battery weight and charging times while extending driving range, to help NZ meet its future electrified transportation and emissions goals.

As part of this larger project the CACM has a fully funded PhD opportunity available to conduct research on developing structurally robust charging system materials and configurations.

What we are looking for in a successful applicant

• A background in Mechanical, Mechatronics, or Materials Engineering

• Research experience in engineering structures and thermofluids and/or materials is desirable

• Evidence of an outstanding academic track record, research skills and technical writing.


Proposed Scope: To develop novel structural configurations for integrated, high-power IPT systems. These must protect the integrated electromagnetic and thermal management functionalities. Focus will be on vehicle side receiver where constrained spaces and constrained weight limits (target <1 kg/kW) are greatest. The candidate will leverage recent research into low-power charging system protection methodologies, extending to consider high-power systems, where internal configurations are expected to become more complex. The feasibility of applying novel electromagnetic and thermally conductive materials and composites will be investigated. The project will involve development of high-fidelity FEA models, incorporating static and dynamic loading scenarios. Experimental validation of the modelling will be required at a range of scales, as well as testing and validation of proposed structural solutions.

Areas of focus for potential students:

• Novel materials and composites for multi-functional structural protection.

• High-fidelity static and dynamic structural modelling of high-power IPT systems

• Experimental characterisation of materials (structural, magnetic and thermal) as well as interfaces/boundaries

• Experimental validation of structural robustness, at a range of scales

Other information

Academic Team and contact information:

Dr Tom Allen ()

Assoc. Prof.  Piaras Kelly ()

Prof. Simon Bickerton, first contact point ()

Assoc. Prof. Rajnish Sharma ()

Funding Notes

Fully funded

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