Funded PhD opportunities at CACM

Two funded PhD positions are available at the Centre for Advanced Composite Materials, which includes all fees and an annual tax-free stipend of $27,000 for a minimum of three years. Both opportunities include PReSS funding for research-related costs and a $5,000 bonus stipend if you're also been awarded a University of Auckland Doctoral Scholarship

The opportunities are part of an MBIE grant to explore the implementation of Inductive Power Transfer technologies into roadways, with a long-term aim to eliminate active charging requirements for electric vehicles. They will involve working with Dr Tom Allen, Professor Simon Bickerton and Associate Professor Piaras Kelly in a multidisciplinary team across the University.

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Development of robust IPT pavement systems for electric vehicles

Electric vehicles represent an opportunity for large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and improved urban air quality. Using clean, renewable energy to power a NZ vehicle fleet is an attractive goal, and the government’s Electric Vehicles Programme aims to facilitate a low-carbon economy, without compromising individual mobility. The Ministry of Transport aims to reach 64,000 EVs by 2021 (about 2% of NZ’s light vehicle fleet), doubling every year thereafter. But the uptake of electric vehicles in New Zealand and elsewhere depends on resolving ‘range anxiety’ as EVs can need to be recharged frequently. Motorists are slow to switch to EVs, concerned that the car will run out of charge between charging stations. A multi-disciplinary team from Power Electronics, Transportation, CACM and Economics has received funding to develop a robust roadway-charging system for EVs, enabling vehicles to pick up charge from the roadway itself, when they are parked, stopped at the lights, or moving along a special charging lane. The long term aim is to eliminate active charging requirements for EVs. 

Implementation of IPT charging pads into a roadway infrastructure relies upon robust and durable pad designs. This durability should not be at the expense of electromagnetic performance of the pads. Current pad designs utilise weak and brittle materials such as Ferrite and Copper Litz Wire. While minimisation of these within the pads is possible, reduction would result in reduced performance.

As part of this larger project the Centre for Advance Composite Materials are presenting two fully funded PhD opportunities, including:

  • Development of embedding methodologies for protecting delicate IPT componetry. Pads are currently potted into simple thermoplastic casing to increase their durability, however the inclusion of pads into a roadway will require more complex protection approaches. This project will look at how pads can be protected using advanced structural design approaches including; multi-functional and functionally graded materials and stress cloaking methodologies. This work will intertwine with work being undertaken by other researchers in the wider group, utilising the material properties and modelling approaches established. Experimental testing at material, sub component and system level will be required to develop solutions and improve structural and thermal performance. Final characterisation of developed protection methodologies will be undertaken in conjunction with the University of Auckland’s Transportation Engineering Group in an in-road scenario. Potential focus areas include:
    • Multi-functional and functionally graded materials
    • Stress cloaking
    • Experimental testing of encapsulated IPT pads under static, dynamic and fatigue scenarios
  • Development of multi-physics finite-element models of IPT pads. . This work will intertwine with work being undertaken by other researchers to look at how complete embedded IPT arrangements can be model to capture the mechanical, thermal, magnetic and electrical behaviour. The modelling will be developed alongside researchers from both the Power Electronics and Transportation Engineering Groups at the University of Auckland.  Some work will be required to characterise the interface/ boundary interactions experimentally in order to develop robust multi-body models, most notably for a thermal perspective. Experimental validation of the modelling will be required at a range of scales, under a range of loading scenarios. Potential focus areas include:
    • Multi-physics numerical modelling
    • Experimental characterisation of interfaces/boundaries and result development of numerical representation
    • Experimental validation under static, dynamic and fatigue scenarios