Prof Russell Phillips

Associate Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering
041 5043609
E7G North Campus

Biography / Background

Russell Phillips is a Professor at the Nelson Mandela University and Manager of the Renewable Energy Research Group as well as the Mandela Autonomous Operations group. He holds a Doctoral degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Nelson Mandela University.
He holds a number of patents in his research fields.

DTech Mechanical Engineering
Reg Eng Tech (ECSA)
SACAA CPL/Instructor GR2/Test Pilot/RPAS pilot

Awards and Achievements
2010/2011   Golden key lecturer of year awards
2010    Teacher of year award EBEIT
2011    Faculty excellent teacher award
2013    NMMU Innovation award
2019    DST Top IP Creator award for NMU

Professional Activities
• Member SaiMechE
• ECSA Reg Eng Tech

Teaching Interests

Prof Phillips has since 2005 used various novel approaches to address the challenge of teaching large (200+) undergraduate engineering classes in an effective manner that maximises the potential of the students and enhances the throughput rate. These have included various real time interactive methods designed to create a more “one on one” type of experience for the students. Currently he uses weekly (Friday) assessments based on smaller parcels of weekly content. Students obtain results of their assessments before commencement of new content on the Monday. Whilst he concedes that this unusual method of delivery and assessment will not necessarily be appropriate for all levels of undergrad study he has proved that it does work effectively, particularly with first and second year learners in analytical type engineering modules. Most recently as a result of the COVID pandemic he has developed a comprehensive suite of online tuition videos that achieve the sub 1Mb/minute threshold vital for delivering content to learners without access to uncapped/reliable connectivity.

Research Interests

His research spans two fields:
Renewable Energy (Off grid energy harvesting and storage systems)
• Novel vertical and horizontal axis wind turbine designs
• Solar thermal concentrators for heating rock
• Extraction of energy from the heated rock and generating electricity from it
• Batteryless solar PV applications such as industrial processes and motive power

Autonomous vehicles (Fixed wing, Rotary wing and VTOL drones).
• Heavy lift multi-rotor drones with hybrid power for long duration operations
• Heavy lift fixed wing aircraft for long range operations
• VTOL (vertical take off and landing) aircraft for offshore scientific research and patrol

Representative Publications

Poole, S and Phillips R, Rapid prototyping of small wind turbine blades using additive manufacturing. ICCBN Durban October 2015

Poole, S and Phillips R, Vorster F, High Yield Small Wind Turbines Operating In Urban Environments. Windac Cape Town November 2016
Winston Dyason, Russell Phillips, Riaan Stopforth and Theo van Niekerk. Performance Evaluation and Comparison of Filters for Real Time Embedded System Applications Nov 2017

H.B. van der Merwe, A. Young, R. Phillips , Performance prediction of composite wing structure using Siemens NX ICCBN 2018

Maidadi, M and Phillips, R, Packed-Bed rock thermal energy storage for concentrated solar power:  Enhancement of storage time and system efficiency, R&D Journal of the South African Institution of Mechanical Engineering – under review

Poole,S and Phillips, R, development of low-cost CSP for heating of air. R&D Journal of the South African Institution of Mechanical Engineering – under review

Newey, K and Phillips R, Optimising performance of small HAWT’s through improved rotor/alternator matching, R&D Journal of the South African Institution of Mechanical Engineering – under review
Basson, Hansraj, Stopforth, Mooney, Phillips, van Niekerk, du Preez.  A Review of Collaborated Educational Drone Development and Design at the BRICS 2018 Future Skills Challenge, 2019 SAUPEC/RobMech/PRASA 2019
Winston Dyason, Riaan Stopforth, Theo van Niekerk and Russell Phillips
Real-Time Optimization Method for Complimentary Filter using Signal-to-Noise Ratio Maximization Robmec 2020

Cawood J, Phillips R. Development of fringe technologies to enable effective passive solar tracking SASEC 2019

Benjamin Nelson, Jacques Du Preez, Theo van Niekerk, Russell Phillips and Riaan Stopforth
Autonomous Landing of a Multirotor Aircraft on a Docking Station  - Robmec 2020

Cawood, J, Phillips R. Emergency ventilator for breathing assistance JNGS -under review

Cawood J, Phillips R. Development of a highl head low flow centrifugal pump for solar tracking hydraulic positioning. - Journal for New Generation Sciences - under review

Sewell J, Van Niekerk T, Phillips R. Vision Based Intra Row Navigation System for Agricultural Robotics – Mauricon 2020