Ian Cotton


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Personal profile


I studied for my first degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Sheffield. Following this I worked for an electricity distribution company before returning to University to complete a PhD. This saw me work on lightning protection of wind turbines at UMIST (one of the two Universities that merged to form the University of Manchester in 2004). I have been employed at the University since 1998 within the Electrical Energy and Power Systems Group of the School Of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Manchester. 


I have a number of roles at the University. I carry out research in the area of high voltage with particular interests including the novel power system equipment, power systems transients, the use of higher voltage systems in aerospace applications and power system induced corrosion. I also work in the area of smart cities - supporting a range of projects that are using the University campus and the wider city to test out new energy technologies. My work is based in the University of Manchester HV Laboratories, the largest in the UK where a 2MV impulse generator, 800kV AC test set and 600kV DC test set is available. I have supervised 15 PhD students to completion and am the author / co-author of over well over 100 papersMy research has led to a number of patents and the formation of a spin-off company, Arago Technology, of which I am a Director. 


I am Head of the Power & Energy Division within the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering. I am also the Director of Manchester Energy, the cross-University research initiative maximising the societal impact of our energy research and the University academic lead for Sustainability. I am a Member of the IET, a Senior Member of the IEEE and a Chartered Engineer. I am also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Memberships of committees and professional bodies


BEng (Sheffield), PhD (UMIST), CEng, MIET, SMIEEE. FHEA

Research interests

Higher Voltage Aerospace Systems - As aircraft are using more and more electrical power, it is desirable that voltages increase to minimise the weight involved with the use of high current conductors. Work is underway to examine the design and long term reliability of various forms of electrical distribution systems and components in an aerospace environment. We have completed a number of projects in this area and the research work has led to the development of SAE AIR6127 and has seen us test a number of systems in use on the Boeing 787 / Airbus A350.

Higher Voltage Power Electronics - The increasing use of power electronics in systems as diverse as marine, rail, aerospace and power systems themselves means that the voltages of power electronic modules is continually increasing. We have carried out a range of work in the area of partial discharge performance of power electronic systems including work on IGBT modules, the circuit boards / coatings used in such systems and in partial discharge monitoring.

Power System Transients - These have a fundamental impact on the way in which the power system is designed and operated. Studies are examining the ability to minimise substation size through careful control of transients and the effect of power system transients on parallel structures such as pipelines.

Power System Plant - Current projects include an examination of the feasibility of using composite crossarms on overhead line towers to reduce visual impact and increase reliability. We are also looking at means of reducing SF6 usage within the transmission system.

My group


Please contact me if you have an excellent academic background and an enthusiam for research in the following areas. Some opportunities can be found at http://www.power-networks-cdt.manchester.ac.uk/and http://www.m4de.manchester.ac.uk/

-Power system plant (overhead lines, cables, switchgear)
-Power system transients (including live line working)
-Future electricity systems
-High voltage systems including those used in aerospace and marine applications

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water

External positions

External Examiner, Imperial College London

1 Sept 2016 → …

Areas of expertise

  • TK Electrical engineering. Electronics Nuclear engineering
  • Power Systens
  • High Voltage
  • High Voltage Aerospace Systems
  • Overhead Lines
  • Power System Plant

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Aerospace Research Institute
  • Manchester Energy
  • Energy
  • Manchester Urban Institute
  • Dalton Nuclear Institute
  • Manchester Environmental Research Institute


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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