PhD DC grid protection


The Electrical energy & computer architectures ELECTA division of the Department of Electrical Engineering (ESAT) covers the broad spectrum of electrical energy systems and robust control of industrial systems. The development of the future smart grid is the key activity. As the largest research group on electrical energy systems in the Benelux, ELECTA is recognized as a center-of-excellence on these topics, where fundamental research is combined with immediately and prospectively applicable solutions for the industry. 

Alongside this development of know-how, it is important is to share gained knowledge with the academic community, students, industry and the society as a whole. ELECTA is also co-founder of the knowledge center EnergyVille together with VITO, imec and UHasselt. The work location is the EnergyVille Campus in Genk / Belgium.


The planned increase of renewable energy sources such as wind or photovoltaics is posing challenges to the current way of designing and operating the power system. To integrate large amounts of these sources, there will be need for transmission corridors with power ratings and lengths greatly exceeding those of the existing power system. Besides AC links, more and more High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) links are being built, as they provide economical and technical benefits. To further reduce costs and increase grid reliability, these links may eventually evolve into meshed HVDC grids which exist besides the current AC systems.

The ongoing transitions in the modern power system challenge today’s approach to power system protection. On the one hand, the proliferation of power electronic interfaced components in the AC grid reduces the system inertia, and hence calls for a faster power system protection. On the other hand, new types of systems such as DC grids require protection which is ten to one hundred times faster compared with existing AC protection. Furthermore, given the different economics in HVDC grid protective equipment, protection in DC grids will look fundamentally different compared with that in existing AC grids.

This project will focus on signal processing and communication aspects concerning protection algorithms for ultra-fast HVDC grid protection, for faults on HVDC cables. The methods are expected to be useful not only for online protection algorithms (detecting the fault to operate circuit breakers) but also for offline protection algorithms.


The ideal candidate has:
  • Masters degree in electrical engineering or computer sciences 
  • Knowledge of power system modelling, HVDC, electromagnetic waves
  • Experience in signal processing and/or digital processors
  • Excellent communication skills in English (and possibly Dutch)