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Module 5 - Introduction to Generators and Motors
Navy Electricity and Electronics Training Series (NEETS)
Chapter 1:  Pages 1-1 through 1-10

NEETS   Module 5 − Introduction to Generators and Motors

Pages i, 1−1, 1−11, 1−21, 1−31, 2−1, 2−11, 3−1, 3−11, 4−1, 4−11, Index


Chapter 1


Learning Objectives


Upon completion of the chapter you will be able to:


1.  State the principle by which generators convert mechanical energy to electrical energy.


2.  State the rule to be applied when you determine the direction of induced EMF in a coil.


3.  State the purpose of slip rings.


4.  State the reason why no EMF is induced in a rotating coil as it passes through a neutral plane.


5.  State what component causes a generator to produce direct current rather than alternating current.


6.  Identify the point at which the brush contact should change from one commutator segment to the next.


7.  State how field strength can be varied in a dc generator.


8.  Describe the cause of sparking between brushes and commutator.


9.  State what is meant by "armature reaction."


10.  State the purpose of interpoles.


11.  Explain the effect of motor reaction in a dc generator.


12.  Explain the causes of armature losses.


13.  List the types of armatures used in dc generators.


14.  State the three classifications of dc generators.


15.  State the term that applies to voltage variation from no-load to full-load conditions and how it is expressed as a percentage.


16.  State the term that describes the use of two or more generators to supply a common load.


17.  State the purpose of a dc generator that has been modified to function as an amplidyne.



A generator is a machine that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy by using the principle of magnetic induction. This principle is explained as follows:


Whenever a conductor is moved within a magnetic field in such a way that the conductor cuts across magnetic lines of flux, voltage is generated in the conductor.


The AMOUNT of voltage generated depends on (1) the strength of the magnetic field, (2) the angle at which the conductor cuts the magnetic field, (3) the speed at which the conductor is moved, and (4) the length of the conductor within the magnetic field.


The POLARITY of the voltage depends on the direction of the magnetic lines of flux and the direction of movement of the conductor. To determine the direction of current in a given situation, the LEFT-Hand RULE for GENERATORS is used. This rule is explained in the following manner.


Extend the thumb, forefinger, and middle finger of your left hand at right angles to one another, as shown in figure 1-1. Point your thumb in the direction the conductor is being moved. Point your forefinger in the direction of magnetic flux (from north to south). Your middle finger will then point in the direction of current flow in an external circuit to which the voltage is applied.

Left-hand rule for generators - RF Cafe

Figure 1-1. - Left-hand rule for generators.



The simplest elementary generator that can be built is an ac generator. Basic generating principles

are most easily explained through the use of the elementary ac generator. For this reason, the ac generator will be discussed first. The dc generator will be discussed later.


An elementary generator (fig. 1-2) consists of a wire loop placed so that it can be rotated in a stationary magnetic field. This will produce an induced EMF in the loop. Sliding contacts (brushes) connect the loop to an external circuit load in order to pick up or use the induced EMF.



The elementary generator - RF Cafe

Figure 1-2. - The elementary generator.


The pole pieces (marked N and S) provide the magnetic field. The pole pieces are shaped and positioned as shown to concentrate the magnetic field as close as possible to the wire loop. The loop of wire that rotates through the field is called the ARMATURE. The ends of the armature loop are connected to rings called SLIP RINGS. They rotate with the armature. The brushes, usually made of carbon, with wires attached to them, ride against the rings. The generated voltage appears across these brushes.


The elementary generator produces a voltage in the following manner (fig. 1-3). The armature loop is rotated in a clockwise direction. The initial or starting point is shown at position A. (This will be considered the zero-degree position.) At 0º  the armature loop is perpendicular to the magnetic field. The black and white conductors of the loop are moving parallel to the field. The instant the conductors are moving parallel to the magnetic field, they do not cut any lines of flux. Therefore, no EMF is induced in the conductors, and the meter at position a indicates zero. This position is called the NEUTRAL Plane. As the armature loop rotates from position a (0º) to position B (90º), the conductors cut through more and more lines of flux, at a continually increasing angle. At 90º  they are cutting through a maximum number of lines of flux and at maximum angle. The result is that between 0º  and 90º , the induced EMF in the conductors builds up from zero to a maximum value. Observe that from 0º  to 90º , the black conductor cuts DOWN through the field. At the same time the white conductor cuts UP through the field. The induced EMFs in the conductors are series-adding. This means the resultant voltage across the brushes (the terminal voltage) is the sum of the two induced voltages. The meter at position B reads maximum value. As the armature loop continues rotating from 90º  (position B) to 180º  (position C), the conductors which were cutting through a maximum number of lines of flux at position B now cut through fewer lines. They are again moving parallel to the magnetic field at position C. They no longer cut through any lines of flux. As the armature rotates from 90º  to 180º , the induced voltage will decrease to zero in the same manner that it increased during the rotation from 0º  to 90º . The meter again reads zero. From 0º  to 180º  the conductors of the armature loop have been moving in the same direction through the magnetic field. Therefore, the polarity of the induced voltage has remained the same. This is shown by points A through C on the graph. As the loop rotates beyond 180º  (position C), through 270º  (position D), and back to the initial or starting point (position A), the direction of the cutting action of the conductors through the magnetic field reverses. Now the black conductor cuts UP through the field while the white conductor cuts DOWN through the field. As a result, the polarity of the induced voltage reverses. Following the sequence shown by graph points C, D, and back to A, the voltage will be in the direction opposite to that


shown from points A, B, and C. The terminal voltage will be the same as it was from a to C except that the polarity is reversed (as shown by the meter deflection at position D). The voltage output waveform for the complete revolution of the loop is shown on the graph in figure 1-3.


Output voltage of an elementary generator during one revolution - RF Cafe

Figure 1-3. - Output voltage of an elementary generator during one revolution.


Q1.   Generators convert mechanical motion to electrical energy using what principle?


Q2.   What rule should you use to determine the direction of induced EMF in a coil?


Q3.   What is the purpose of the slip rings?


Q4.   Why is no EMF induced in a rotating coil when it passes through the neutral plane?




A single-loop generator with each terminal connected to a segment of a two-segment metal ring is shown in figure 1-4. The two segments of the split metal ring are insulated from each other. This forms a simple COMMUTATOR. The commutator in a dc generator replaces the slip rings of the ac generator. This is the main difference in their construction. The commutator mechanically reverses the armature loop connections to the external circuit. This occurs at the same instant that the polarity of the voltage in the armature loop reverses. Through this process the commutator changes the generated ac voltage to a pulsating dc voltage as shown in the graph of figure 1-4. This action is known as commutation. Commutation is described in detail later in this chapter.



Effects of commutation - RF Cafe

Figure 1-4. - Effects of commutation.


For the remainder of this discussion, refer to figure 1-4, parts a through D. This will help you in following the step-by-step description of the operation of a dc generator. When the armature loop rotates clockwise from position a to position B, a voltage is induced in the armature loop which causes a current in a direction that deflects the meter to the right. Current flows through loop, out of the negative brush, through the meter and the load, and back through the positive brush to the loop. Voltage reaches its maximum value at point B on the graph for reasons explained earlier. The generated voltage and the current fall to zero at position C. At this instant each brush makes contact with both segments of the commutator. As the armature loop rotates to position D, a voltage is again induced in the loop. In this case, however, the voltage is of opposite polarity.


The voltages induced in the two sides of the coil at position D are in the reverse direction to that of the voltages shown at position B. Note that the current is flowing from the black side to the white side in position B and from the white side to the black side in position D. However, because the segments of the commutator have rotated with the loop and are contacted by opposite brushes, the direction of current flow through the brushes and the meter remains the same as at position B. The voltage developed across the brushes is pulsating and unidirectional (in one direction only). It varies twice during each revolution between zero and maximum. This variation is called RIPPLE.


A pulsating voltage, such as that produced in the preceding description, is unsuitable for most applications. Therefore, in practical generators more armature loops (coils) and more commutator segments are used to produce an output voltage waveform with less ripple.


Q5.   What component causes a generator to produce dc voltage rather than ac voltage at its output terminals?


Q6.   At what point should brush contact change from one commutator segment to the next?


Q7.   An elementary, single coil, dc generator will have an output voltage with how many pulsations per revolution?




The effects of additional coils may be illustrated by the addition of a second coil to the armature. The commutator must now be divided into four parts since there are four coil ends (see fig. 1-5). The coil is rotated in a clockwise direction from the position shown. The voltage induced in the white coil, DECREASES for The NEXT 90º  of rotation (from maximum to zero). The voltage induced in the black coil INCREASES from zero to maximum at the same time. Since there are four segments in the commutator, a new segment passes each brush every 90º  instead of every 180º . This allows the brush to switch from the white coil to the black coil at the instant the voltages in the two coils are equal. The brush remains in contact with the black coil as its induced voltage increases to maximum, level B in the graph. It then decreases to level A, 90º  later. At this point, the brush will contact the white coil again.

Effects of additional coils - RF Cafe

Figure 1-5. - Effects of additional coils.


The graph in figure 1-5 shows the ripple effect of the voltage when two armature coils are used. Since there are now four commutator segments in the commutator and only two brushes, the voltage cannot fall any lower than at point A. Therefore, the ripple is limited to the rise and fall between points a and B on the graph. By adding more armature coils, the ripple effect can be further reduced. Decreasing ripple in this way increases the effective voltage of the output.


Note: Effective voltage is the equivalent level of dc voltage, which will cause the same average current through a given resistance. By using additional armature coils, the voltage across the brushes is not allowed to fall to as low a level between peaks. Compare the graphs in figure 1-4 and 1-5. Notice that the ripple has been reduced. Practical generators use many armature coils. They also use more than one pair of magnetic poles. The additional magnetic poles have the same effect on ripple as did the additional armature coils. In addition, the increased number of poles provides a stronger magnetic field (greater number of flux lines). This, in turn, allows an increase in output voltage because the coils cut more lines of flux per revolution.


Q8.   How many commutator segments are required in a two-coil generator?




Nearly all practical generators use electromagnetic poles instead of the permanent magnets used in our elementary generator. The electromagnetic field poles consist of coils of insulated copper wire wound on soft iron cores, as shown in figure 1-6. The main advantages of using electromagnetic poles are (1) increased field strength and (2) a means of controlling the strength of the fields. By varying the input voltage, the field strength is varied. By varying the field strength, the output voltage of the generator can be controlled.

Four-pole generator (without armature) - RF Cafe

Figure 1-6. - Four-pole generator (without armature).


Q9.   How can field strength be varied in a practical dc generator?




Commutation is the process by which a dc voltage output is taken from an armature that has an ac voltage induced in it. You should remember from our discussion of the elementary dc generator that the commutator mechanically reverses the armature loop connections to the external circuit. This occurs at the same instant that the voltage polarity in the armature loop reverses. a dc voltage is applied to the load because the output connections are reversed as each commutator segment passes under a brush. The segments are insulated from each other.


In figure 1-7, commutation occurs simultaneously in the two coils that are briefly short-circuited by the brushes. Coil B is short-circuited by the negative brush. Coil Y, the opposite coil, is short-circuited by the positive brush. The brushes are positioned on the commutator so that each coil is short-circuited as it moves through its own electrical neutral plane. As you have seen previously, there is no voltage generated in the coil at that time. Therefore, no sparking can occur between the commutator and the brush. Sparking between the brushes and the commutator is an indication of improper commutation. Improper brush placement is the main cause of improper commutation.



Commutation of a dc generator - RF Cafe

 Figure 1-7. - Commutation of a dc generator.


Q10.   What causes sparking between the brushes and the commutator?




From previous study, you know that all current-carrying conductors produce magnetic fields. The magnetic field produced by current in the armature of a dc generator affects the flux pattern and distorts the main field. This distortion causes a shift in the neutral plane, which affects commutation. This change in the neutral plane and the reaction of the magnetic field is called ARMATURE REACTION.


You know that for proper commutation, the coil short-circuited by the brushes must be in the neutral plane. Consider the operation of a simple two-pole dc generator, shown in figure 1-8. View a of the figure shows the field poles and the main magnetic field. The armature is shown in a simplified view in views B and C with the cross section of its coil represented as little circles. The symbols within the circles represent arrows. The dot represents the point of the arrow coming toward you, and the cross represents the tail, or feathered end, going away from you. When the armature rotates clockwise, the sides of the coil to the left will have current flowing toward you, as indicated by the dot. The side of the coil to the right will have current flowing away from you, as indicated by the cross. The field generated around each side of the coil is shown in view B of figure 1-8. This field increases in strength for each wire in the armature coil, and sets up a magnetic field almost perpendicular to the main field.



Armature reaction - RF Cafe

Figure 1-8. - Armature reaction.


Now you have two fields - the main field, view A, and the field around the armature coil, view B. View C of figure 1-8 shows how the armature field distorts the main field and how the neutral plane is shifted in the direction of rotation. If the brushes remain in the old neutral plane, they will be short- circuiting coils that have voltage induced in them. Consequently, there will be arcing between the brushes and commutator.


To prevent arcing, the brushes must be shifted to the new neutral plane.


Q11.   What is armature reaction?




Shifting the brushes to the advanced position (the new neutral plane) does not completely solve the problems of armature reaction. The effect of armature reaction varies with the load current. Therefore, each time the load current varies, the neutral plane shifts. This means the brush position must be changed each time the load current varies.


In small generators, the effects of armature reaction are reduced by actually mechanically shifting the position of the brushes. The practice of shifting the brush position for each current variation is not practiced except in small generators. In larger generators, other means are taken to eliminate armature reaction. COMPENSATING WINDINGS or INTERPOLES are used for this purpose (fig. 1-9). The compensating windings consist of a series of coils embedded in slots in the pole faces. These coils are connected in series with the armature. The series-connected compensating windings produce a magnetic field, which varies directly with armature current. Because the compensating windings are wound to produce a field that opposes the magnetic field of the armature, they tend to cancel the effects of the armature magnetic field. The neutral plane will remain stationary and in its original position for all values of armature current. Because of this, once the brushes have been set correctly, they do not have to be moved again.



Compensating windings and interpoles - RF Cafe

Figure 1-9. - Compensating windings and interpoles.


Another way to reduce the effects of armature reaction is to place small auxiliary poles called "interpoles" between the main field poles. The interpoles have a few turns of large wire and are connected in series with the armature. Interpoles are wound and placed so that each interpole has the same magnetic polarity as the main pole ahead of it, in the direction of rotation. The field generated by the interpoles produces the same effect as the compensating winding. This field, in effect, cancels the armature reaction for all values of load current by causing a shift in the neutral plane opposite to the shift caused by armature reaction. The amount of shift caused by the interpoles will equal the shift caused by armature reaction since both shifts are a result of armature current.


Q12.   What is the purpose of interpoles?




When a generator delivers current to a load, the armature current creates a magnetic force that opposes the rotation of the armature. This is called MOTOR REACTION. A single armature conductor is represented in figure 1-10, view A. When the conductor is stationary, no voltage is generated and no current flows. Therefore, no force acts on the conductor. When the conductor is moved downward (fig. 1- 10, view B) and the circuit is completed through an external load, current flows through the conductor in the direction indicated. This sets up lines of flux around the conductor in a clockwise direction.


NEETS Modules
- Matter, Energy, and Direct Current
- Alternating Current and Transformers
- Circuit Protection, Control, and Measurement
- Electrical Conductors, Wiring Techniques, and Schematic Reading
- Generators and Motors
- Electronic Emission, Tubes, and Power Supplies
- Solid-State Devices and Power Supplies
- Amplifiers
- Wave-Generation and Wave-Shaping Circuits
- Wave Propagation, Transmission Lines, and Antennas
- Microwave Principles
- Modulation Principles
- Introduction to Number Systems and Logic Circuits
- - Introduction to Microelectronics
- Principles of Synchros, Servos, and Gyros
- Introduction to Test Equipment
- Radio-Frequency Communications Principles
- Radar Principles
- The Technician's Handbook, Master Glossary
- Test Methods and Practices
- Introduction to Digital Computers
- Magnetic Recording
- Introduction to Fiber Optics
Note: Navy Electricity and Electronics Training Series (NEETS) content is U.S. Navy property in the public domain.
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