About

The name McTronX is an acronym after the field of mechatronics and was chosen due to the strong developments in the area of AMBs, a product of mechatronics, in the initial years since the establishment of the research group. This drive resulted in numerous laboratory demonstrator systems that today provide platforms for continued research. An equally strong activity involved the Modelling and Control and Condition Monitoring of different Brayton-cycle based configurations of the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) project.

The core activity of the McTronX research group is the Dynamic Modelling and Control of large-scale industrial systems or processes. Characteristic of the group is the multi-disciplinary nature of its projects. In terms of research capacity, the research group constitutes 7 academics across the engineering disciplines of electrical, mechanical and chemical and numerous postgraduate students. Up to the end of 2019 the group has delivered in excess of 60 Masters students and 16 PhD students. In terms of publication, in excess of 50 accredited journal articles have culminated from the research.

Founder

Prof. George van Schoor founded the research group in 2003 due to the research needs of the PBMR project under way in South Africa at the time.  The needs involved Dynamic Modelling and Control on the main thermohydraulic cycle as well as Active Magnetic Bearings (AMBs) that was seen as an enabling technology. 

Mission

Modelling and Control contributes to the improvement of industrial processes. The improvement can be quantified in terms of specific objectives of which energy efficiency, product quality or plant reliability is most prominent.

Research Focus

  • Energy-based characterisation of large-scale industrial plants
  • Energy-based control and fault detection and diagnosis of large-scale industrial plants
  • Modelling of electrical machines; with a special emphasis on thermal modelling

Significant Projects

  • State space model extraction of thermohydraulic systems
  • Health monitoring of a Brayton-cycle based power conversion unit
  • An improved model for self-sensing heteropolar active magnetic bearings
  • Self-sensing algorithms for active magnetic bearings
  • Nonlinear robustness estimation applied to self-sensing active magnetic bearings
  • Thermal modelling of a high-speed permanent magnet synchronous machine
  • Delevitation modelling of an active magnetic bearing supported rotor
  • Optimal power management and sizing of renewable energy hydrogen systems
  • Multi-scale model of a valve-regulated lead-acid battery with electromotive force characterization to investigate irreversible sulphation
  • Energy-based approach to condition monitoring of an auto-thermal reformer
  • Energy-based visualisation of the boiler performance of a pulverised coal-fired power plant
  • Energy-based visualisation of a Brayton-cycle based power conversion unit
  • Cooperative control of an active magnetic bearing and sensorless drive system
  • Advanced four-dimensional trajectory generation for tactical guidance of unmanned aerial vehicles

Partenerships

Industrial:

  • Sasol
  • Proconics

Academia: 

  • The McTronX research group maintains international collaboration with the University of Applied Sciences Zittau / Görlitz in Germany since 2004, characterised by regular staff and student exchanges.
  • Local collaboration with Stellenbosch University, Department of Process Engineering

Postgraduate Studies

We invite prospective Master and PhD students to join us on an exciting research journey with the McTronX research group.  Feel free to contact us for more information on our research projects and outputs.

Contact Details

For more information on our research projects and outputs please contact prof. George van Schoor at:
Email: George.VanSchoor@nwu.ac.za