Principles of DC Machines

Principles of DC Machines

DC Machines are the electro mechanical energy converters which work from a d.c source and generate mechanical power or convert mechanical power into a d.c. power. These machines can be broadly classified into two types, on the basis of their magnetic structure. They are,

  1. Homopolar machines
  2. Heteropolar machines

Homopolar Machines :-

Homopolar Generators – A homo-polar generator is a DC electrical generator comprising an electrically conductive disc or cylinder rotating in a plane perpendicular to a uniform static magnetic field. A potential difference is created between the center of the disc and the rim (or ends of the cylinder) with an electrical polarity that depends on the direction of rotation and the orientation of the field. It is also known as a unipolar generator, a cyclic generator, disk dynamo, or Faraday disc.

The voltage is typically low, on the order of a few volts in the case of small demonstration models, but large research generators can produce hundreds of volts, and some systems have multiple generators in series to produce an even larger voltage. They are unusual in that they can source tremendous electric current, some more than a million amperes, because the homo-polar generator can be made to have very low internal resistance.

The Faraday disc:-

The first homopolar generator was developed by Michael Faraday during his experiments in 1831. It is frequently called the Faraday disc or Faraday wheel in his honor. It was the beginning of modern dynamos — that is, electrical generators which operate using a magnetic field. It was very inefficient and was not used as a practical power source, but it showed the possibility of generating electric power using magnetism, and led the way for commutated direct current dynamos and then alternating current alternators.

The Faraday disc was primarily inefficient due to counterflows of current. While current flow was induced directly underneath the magnet, the current would circulate backwards in regions outside the influence of the magnetic field. This counterflow limits the power output to the pickup wires, and induces waste heating of the copper disc. Later homopolar generators would solve this problem by using an array of magnets arranged around the disc perimeter to maintain a steady field around the circumference, and eliminate areas where counterflow could occur.

Hetero polar d.c. generators :-

In the case of a hetero-polar generator the induced emf in a conductor goes through a cyclic change in voltage as it passes under north and south pole polarity alternately. The induced emf in the conductor therefore is not a constant but alternates in magnitude. For a constant velocity of sweep the induced emf is directly proportional to the flux density under which it is moving. If the flux density variation is sinusoidal in space, then a sine wave voltage is generated. This principle is used in the a.c generators. In the case of d.c. generators our aim is to get a steady d.c. voltage at the terminals of the winding and not the shape of the emf in the conductors. This is achieved by employing an external element, which is called a commutator, with the winding hetero-polar, 2-pole machine and one-coil armature. The ends of the coil are connected to a split ring which acts like a commutator. As the polarity of the induced voltages changes the connection to the brush also gets switched so that the voltage seen at the brushes has a unidirectional polarity. This idea is further developed in the modern day machines with the use of commutators. The brushes are placed on the commutator. Connection to the winding is made through the commutator only.

The idea of a commutator is an ingenious one. Even though the instantaneous value of the induced emf in each conductor varies as a function of the flux density under which it is moving, the value of this emf is a constant at any given position of the conductor as the field is stationary. Similarly the sum of a set of coils also remains a constant. This thought is the one which gave birth to the commutator. The coils connected between the two brushes must be
“similarly located” with respect to the poles irrespective of the actual position of the rotor. This can be termed as the condition of symmetry. If a winding satisfies this condition then it is suitable for use as an armature winding of a d.c. machine. The ring winding due to Gramme is one such. It is easy to follow the action of the d.c. machine using a ring winding, hence it is taken up here for explanation.

A 2-pole, 12 coil, ring wound armature of a machine. The 12 coils are placed at uniform spacing around the rotor. The junction of each coil with its neighbor is connected to a commutator segment. Each commutator segment is insulated from its neighbor by a mica separator. Two brushes A and B are placed on the commutator which looks like a cylinder. If one traces the connection from brush A to brush B one finds that there are two paths. In each path a set of voltages get added up. The sum of the emfs is constant(nearly).

The constancy of this magnitude is altered by a small value corresponding to the coil short circuited by the brush. As we wish to have a maximum value for the output voltage, the choice of position for the brushes would be at the neutral axis of the field. If the armature is turned by a distance of one slot pitch the sum of emfs is seen to be constant even though a different set of coils participate in the addition. The coil which gets short circuited has nearly zero voltage induced in the same and hence the sum does not change substantially. This variation in the output voltage is called the ’ripple’. More the number of coils participating in the sum lesser would be the ’percentage’ ripple.

Another important observation from the working principle of a heterogeneous generator is that the actual shape of the flux density curve does not matter as long as the integral of the flux entering the rotor is held constant; which means that for a given flux per pole the voltage will be constant even if the shape of this flux density curve changes
(speed and other conditions remaining unaltered). This is one reason why an average flux density over the entire pole pitch is taken and flux density curve is assumed to be rectangular.

Motoring operation of a d.c. machine :-

In the motoring operation the d.c. machine is made to work from a d.c. source and absorb electrical power. This power is converted into the mechanical form. This is briefly discussed here. If the armature of the d.c. machine which is at rest is connected to a d.c. source then, a current flows into the armature conductors. If the field is already excited then these current carrying conductors experience a force as per the law of interaction discussed above and the armature experiences a torque. If the restraining torque could be neglected the armature starts rotating in the direction of the force. The conductors now move under the field and cut the magnetic flux and hence an induced emf appears in them. The polarity of the induced emf is such as to oppose the cause of the current which in the present case is the applied voltage. Thus a ’back emf’ appears and tries to reduce the current. As the induced emf and the current act in opposing sense the machine acts like a sink to the electrical power which the source supplies. This absorbed electrical power gets converted into mechanical form. Thus the same electrical machine works as a generator of electrical power or the absorber of electrical power depending upon the operating condition. The absorbed power gets converted into electrical or mechanical power.


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