Newport chosen by Government to help lead UK electric revolution

24 March 2020


Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult (CSA Catapult) is pleased to confirm that Newport has been chosen as part of a national network of cutting-edge centres to enable faster design, development & industrialisation of power electronics, electric machines & drives (PEMD) across 7 sectors – including automotive, aerospace & energy.

A network of power electronics, motors & drives (PEMD) capability across the UK, led by industrialisation centres, will house state-of-the-art equipment to enable faster design, development, testing and manufacturing of electrification technologies. Four ‘Driving the Electric Revolution’ (DER) Industrialisation Centres – backed by £30m Government funding – will be located across the UK, in Newport, Nottingham, Glasgow and Sunderland. The DER Industrialisation Centre South Wales & South West (SW2), based in Newport, will be co-ordinated by the CSA Catapult and will lead the Materials & Components aspects of the DER Industrialisation Centres.

The centres and their 35 world class partners, backed by £30m, will be a base for state-of-the-art equipment and will bring together the UK’s innovators and manufacturers in electrification research & development.  The network will help propel the UK’s advanced technologies and manufacturing capabilities to the fore on a national scale, and take the UK one step closer to its Net Zero ambitions.

The DER Industrialisation Centre, based at CSA Catapult’s Innovation Centre in Newport, will coordinate the national Materials & Components and the South Wales & South West (SW2) aspects of the DER Industrialisation Centres. Partners currently include the Universities of Bath, Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol, Birmingham and Exeter, CSA Catapult, the Compound Semiconductor Centre, and a range of industrial organisations and partnerships.

Compound Semiconductors are crucial to the progress of electric-powered technology, as they improve the efficiency of the flow of power from batteries to the motor, helping to improve the effectiveness and longevity of batteries.

Compound semiconductor technology, specifically Silicon Carbide (SiC), can cope with more power than silicon semiconductor technology and, because of this, actually produces less heat in the electronics than the silicon equivalent. This means that SiC technology needs less in the way of cooling and therefore, since cooling systems can be large, heavy and costly, this technology helps to reduce size, weight and expense.

One application where this will be beneficial is with electric vehicles, because reducing size and weight leads to longer time without needing to re-charge, reducing the currently termed state of ‘range anxiety’. And, reducing expense could mean that there is an increase in the production of electric vehicles, meaning they become used by more people – paving the way to the UK Government’s route to Net Zero.

Stephen Doran, CEO of CSA Catapult, said: “CSA Catapult is delighted to be part of this exciting program supporting the drive towards Net Zero carbon emissions. DER Centre SW2 will focus on the Materials & Component aspects of the national DER Industrialisation Centre capability and harness it to help grow the UK supply chain in the relevant technologies.

Garry Wilson, Industrialisation Centre – SW2 said: “The announcement of the DER Industrialisation Centres’ programme is exciting news for PEMD in the UK. The centres will bring together UK-wide PEMD capability with industry requirements to accelerate supply chain development. The Materials & Components and SW2 aspects of the national DER Industrialisation Centres’ programme include world-class capabilities in compound semiconductors and magnetic materials. SW2 as a region is a global leader in a range of the critical PEMD technologies which are applicable across all seven of the DER Challenge sectors that will underpin the growth in the UK PEMD supply chain. Exciting times for the UK PEMD industry!

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