Developing next generation circuit breakers for rail network

Researchers at the University are collaborating with Sheffield Hallam University on a two-year project to improve the resilience and efficiency of the UK’s national rail network.

The £50,000 project is one of 19 new Industrial Fellowships awarded by the Royal Academy of Engineering to drive technological improvements in transport on land, sea and in the air.

Professor Joseph Spencer, Emeritus Professor Gordon Jones and Professor Joseph Yan from the University’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Electronics will work with Dr Leonid Shpanin from Sheffield Hallam University to develop the next generation of direct current circuit breakers used on the national rail network.

The project is in partnership with Brush Switchgear, a UK switchgear and circuit breakers manufacturing company and is expected to finish in September 2022.

Dr Leonid Shpanin, Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “The aim of this project is to address the technical challenge of extinguishing large current faults or short circuits on UK railways, ultimately providing more reliable and resilient electric power delivery across the network. I’m excited to be working with Brush Switchgear who are the only manufacturer of this kind of circuit breaker in the UK.”

Joe Spencer, Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Liverpool, said:We are pleased to support Dr Shpanin with our knowledge and experience in circuit breaker simulation and testing to make this project a success. We believe that the use of digital tools, such as simulation, supports the industrial drive toward the goals of Industry 4.0.”

Dr Raul Montano, from  Brush Switchgear, said: “We are honoured to embark in this collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University and Liverpool University addressing energy efficiency in the rail industry, a key element to achieve the net zero goals.”