Researcher spotlight: Dr Abdollah Malekjafarian 

Dr Abdollah Malekjafarian is Lecturer/Assistant Professor (Ad Astra Fellow) in UCD’s School of Civil Engineering, and work package leader of WP3 of the NexSys Offshore Wind Strand, entitled “Monitoring”. We learn more about his research below.

What is your NexSys research about and what are you working on at the moment?

My research is about employing novel sensing systems and data analytic methods to reduce the cost of operation and maintenance and de-risking the wind energy sector.

What first got you interested in your research area?

The challenging and complex environment that offshore wind turbines are operating in and how we can use fundamental science to overcome these challenges.

What is one interesting fact about your research area people may not know about?

Data collected from cheap sensors installed on wind turbines can tell you many facts about their structural condition. We can detect structural anomalies at their early stage and extend the life-time of offshore wind turbines using these information.

What is the wider relevance of your research to the energy transition?

Considering the number of wind farms reaching their end-of-life, ensuring safe and profitable life extension will have great environmental impact by avoiding the need for new wind turbines. In addition, it is expected that, that up to 5% reduction in the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) can be achieved by extending a turbine’s lifetime by up to 15 years.

Researcher spotlight: Alireza Etemad


In this Researcher Spotlight, we chat to NexSys PhD researcher Alireza Etemad, based in UCD’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, and find out more about his work on district heating systems.


What is your NexSys research about and what are you working on at the moment?
I’m exploring how modern district heating systems can be more efficient and integrated with urban infrastructures. My current focus? Tapping into the potential of data centers—transforming their waste heat into a sustainable energy source for heating our buildings. My PhD research project is entitled: Integration of Supply, Demand, and Policy for Development of 5th Generation District Heating Systems.

How did you first become interested in research?
During my tenure as a mechanical engineer in large thermal plants in my home country of Iran, I observed significant energy wastage in industrial setups. Also, as a tech enthusiast, I always followed the AI development news, and I always had this curiosity of using AI in energy systems operation and optimization. These ignited a passion to research and develop more efficient energy systems, leading me to the academic world.

What is one interesting fact about your research area people may not know about?
Many urban establishments, like data centers and supermarkets, are potential goldmines of sustainable energy. With the right systems, we can harness this energy to heat our cities.

What is the wider relevance of your research to the energy transition?
Smart district heating systems are not just a technological upgrade—they’re a pathway to a sustainable future. By optimizing energy use and reducing waste, these systems support global climate goals and sustainable urban development.

What is something people may find surprising about you?
I’m deeply fascinated by history. Exploring ancient civilizations and their innovations gives me a fresh perspective on today’s challenges. For me, understanding the past is a way to navigate the present and shape a better future.

Learn more

To learn more about Alireza’s research, you can download a copy of his recent presentation at the EirGrid research forum which took place in Dublin in August 2023:

Researcher spotlight: Maryam Pourmahdi

NexSys PhD researcher Maryam Pourmahdi, based in UCD’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, was recently awarded the Best Paper Award at the Universities Power Engineering Conference (UPEC) in TU Dublin. 

We catch up with Maryam below.

Maryam Pourmahdi headshot

What is your NexSys research about and what are you working on at the moment?

My research focuses on creating better and more efficient devices called “rectifiers” that convert alternating current (AC) from the grid to direct current (DC) for use in various applications like electric vehicle charging, power supplies, and hydrogen production. I’m currently working on a design that not only improves energy efficiency but also reduces electromagnetic interference noise, making it safer and more grid friendly. The title of my NexSys project is ‘Advanced Active rectifiers for grid connected applications.’

How did you become interested in this research field?

I was initially intrigued by the challenges of modern power systems and the importance of energy efficiency. With the growing demand for DC power in various applications, the role of rectifiers becomes critical. This led me to explore how these devices could be designed to be more efficient, reliable, and compatible with the power grid.

What is one interesting fact about your research area people may not know about?

My research offers ‘grid-friendly’ rectifiers that not only reduce electrical noise but also maintain stable interactions with the electrical grid. This is critical for preventing disruptions and failures. Additionally, my work has applications in electrolysers for green hydrogen production, making them more efficient and compact.

What is the wider relevance of your research to the energy transition?

The efficiency and reliability of rectifiers are paramount, especially when applied to electrolysers—devices pivotal to the production of green hydrogen, an emerging clean energy source. As the world shifts towards cleaner energy solutions, my research on advanced rectifiers can significantly enhance the efficiency of hydrogen production systems. This translates to reduced energy waste, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and more affordable green hydrogen, potentially accelerating policy shifts towards this sustainable energy option.

You recently won a Best Paper Award at the Universities Power Engineering Conference in TU Dublin. Congratulations! What was the paper about? 

The paper title was “Dual-Cuk High Step-up Bridgeless PFC Converters with Continuous Input and Output Currents”. This paper proposes two novel types of dual-Cuk bridgeless rectifiers for voltage conversion in power systems. These grid-friendly rectifiers overcome the limitations of conventional boost rectifiers and offer several significant advantages including high reliability, low voltage stress across the semiconductors, continuous input and output current, and high step-up voltage operation capability.

What is something people may find surprising about you?

Outside the lab, I have a passion for painting and portraiture, where I find a different kind of creative expression compared to my scientific work. I also enjoy playing the guitar, which serves as a melodic break from the analytical world. Additionally, I love feeding birds; it’s a simple act that brings me immense joy and a sense of connection to nature.