High precision fault localisation


Funded studentships

School of Engineering and Built Environment

Funded PhD Research Project


Project Title:

High precision fault localisation in buried power cables based on wireless charging

Project Reference Number:  SCEBE_ETP_001

Key words:  cable breaks, electrical distribution system, fault localisation, wireless charging


Distribution system cable fault-finding is a major challenge for the energy supply industry. State-of-the-art techniques can only locate fault locations within proximity of several square metres. Even when a faulty cable has been identified, exact fault localisation may be quite complex due to non-conformance of laying maps with actual cable location. This is, therefore, a slow and costly process to network operators and results in disruption to supply and road traffic.

Current fault-finding techniques either depend on cable impedance measurement in a null detector device, such as Murray or Varley loops, or time domain reflectometry, which depends on impedance variations during faults affecting reflected signals injected from one end. These techniques have one characteristic in common: treating the cable as a “black box” which can only be accessed through the cable end terminals.

This project is proposing a novel, yet practical and feasible, technology solution based on the state-of-the-art inductive wireless charging (IWC) technology to achieve more precise identification of fault locations. This is expected to cut down the time and cost on excavations, improve supply security to customers and mitigate the negative societal impact arising from roadworks disruption. The technology solution proposed transfers power inductively from an over-ground mobile energy source to the de-energised buried cable. This device would fundamentally be operating as a mobile scanner, and can be used in conjunction with existing estimation techniques to help narrow down the scanning area.


Example References

1-      M. R. Hans, Snehal C. Kor, and A. S. Patil, “Identification of underground cable fault location and development”, IEEE International Conference on Data Management, Analytics and Innovation (ICDMAI), pp. 5-8, 2017.

2-      Charna Parkey, Craig Hughes, and Nicholas Locken, “Analyzing artifacts in the time domain waveform to locate wire faults”, IEEE Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine, vol. 15, No. 4, pp. 16 – 21, 2012.

3-      Wenzheng Xu, Weifa Liang, Jian Peng, Yiguang Liu and Yan Wang, “Maximizing Charging Satisfaction of Smartphone Users via Wireless Energy Transfer”, IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, vol. 16, No.4, pp. 990-1004, 2017.

4-      Changbyung Park; Sungwoo Lee; Gyu-Hyeong Cho; Chun T. Rim, “Innovative 5-m-Off-Distance Inductive Power Transfer Systems With Optimally Shaped Dipole Coils”, IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics, vol. 30, No.2, pp. 817-827, 2015.

5-      Zhenjie Li; Chunbo Zhu; Jinhai Jiang; Kai Song; Guo Wei, “A 3-kW Wireless Power Transfer System for Sightseeing Car Supercapacitor Charge”, IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics, vol. 32, No.5, pp. 3301-3316, 2017.


Project aim:

 To design, analyse and implement a novel wireless scanning technique for high precision fault localisation in buried power cables.


Project objectives:

1-      Review wireless charging systems and fault-finding/diagnosis techniques in power cables.

2-      Develop simulation model of the proposed system under study using Matlab software.

3-      Create full system design of proposed mobile scanner (circuit, controllers and data acquisition).

4-      Validate/modify design using Matlab software and considering practical/industrial context.

5-      Build experimental prototype (cable samples sought from SPEN).

6-      Test operation with small separating distances and gradually reaching typical burial depths up to 100cm.

7-      Investigate the effect of other environmental conditions (such as soil and asphalt) on inductive coupling between mobile source and buried cable.

8-      Analyse electrical current measurements to yield patterns and profiles to indicate more precise location and type of fault.

 Research Supervisor(s)

Candidates are encouraged to contact the following academics for further details:

Mode(s) of Study

This project is available as a PhD: 3.5 years full-time (42 months)


The project provides funding for the following:

  • Bursary of £52,726 over a total period of 42 months
  • UK/EU tuition fees for 42 months
  • International students would have to find funds to pay the difference between UK/EU tuition fee rates and international fee rates for the duration of the project.


Current fee information: https://www.gcu.ac.uk/research/postgraduateresearchstudy/tuitionfees/



Applicants will normally hold a UK honours degree 2:1 (or equivalent); or a Masters degree in a subject relevant to the research project. Equivalent professional qualifications and any appropriate research experience may be considered. A minimum English language level of IELTS score of 6.5 (or equivalent) with no element below 6.0 is required. Some research disciplines may require higher levels.

 Specific requirements of the project:


The successful candidate should be able to demonstrate a solid educational background in power system engineering and power electronics.

The successful candidate should have strong self-motivation and dedicated passion in power system research.

The willingness of team-working in a multi-cultural team and the ability to deliver research outcomes to meet deadlines.


Relevant academic research and industrial experience will be preferable

Experience of power conversion system control design and simulation

Experience of power electronic devices and converters

Practical skills with building and testing power electronic circuits

Strong mathematical background

 How to Apply

Candidates are encouraged to contact the research supervisor(s) for the project before applying. 

Applicants should apply online at:


State the Project Titleand Reference Number(as listed above).

You do not need to attach a research proposal. In this section of the application, just enter “As advertised”.

You should upload copies of academic qualifications (including IELTS if required), 2 references and any other relevant documentation.  Applicants shortlisted for a PhD will be contacted for an interview.

 Application Deadlines

This PhD programmes commences on 01 February 2019.  The application deadlines are as follows:


Start Date

Application Deadline

February 2019

1 December 2018