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INTRODUCTION TO ELECTRICAL DRIVES Drives are employed for systems that require motion control e.g.

. transportation system, fans, robots, pumps, machine tools, etc. Prime movers are required in drive systems to provide the movement or motion and energy that is used to provide the motion can come from various sources: diesel engines, petrol engines, hydraulic motors, electric motors etc. Drives that use electric motors as the prime movers are known as electrical drives There are several advantages of electrical drives: a. Flexible control characteristic This is particularly true when power electronic converters are employed where the dynamic and steady state characteristics of the motor can be controlled by controlling the applied voltage or current. b. Available in wide range of speed, torque and power c. High efficiency, lower noise, low maintenance requirements and cleaner operation d. Electric energy is easy to be transported. A typical conventional electric drive system for variable speed application employing multimachine system is shown in Figure 1. The system is obviously bulky, expensive, inflexible and require regular maintenance. In the past, induction and synchronous machines were used for constant speed applications this was mainly because of the unavailability of variable frequency supply.

AC motor

fixed speed

DC generator

variable DC If

variable speed DC motor Load

Figure 1 Conventional variable speed electrical drive system

With the advancement of power electronics, microprocessors and digital electronics, typical electric drive systems nowadays are becoming more compact, efficient, cheaper and versatile this is shown in Figure 2. The voltage and current applied to the motor can be changed at will by employing power electronic converters. AC motor is no longer limited to application where only AC source is available, however, it can also be used when the power source available is DC or vice versa Power Processor
(Power electronic Converters)

Power Source



feedback Control Control Unit

Figure 2 Modern Electric drive system employing power electronic converters

Electric drives is multi-disciplinary field. Various research areas can be sub-divided from electric drives as shown in Figure 3.

Utility interface Renewable energy

Machine design Speed sensorless Machine theory

Non-linear control Real-time control DSP application PFC Speed sensorless Power electronic converters

Figure 3 Multi-disciplinary nature of electric drive system

Components of Electrical Drives The main components of a modern electrical drive are the motors, power processor, control unit and electrical source. These are briefly discussed below. a) Motors Motors obtain power from electrical sources. They convert energy from electrical to mechanical - therefore can be regarded as energy converters. In braking mode, the flow of power is reversed. Depending upon the type of power converters used, it is also possible for the power to be fed back to the sources rather than dissipated as heat. There are several types of motors used in electric drives choice of type used depends on applications, cost, environmental factors and also the type of sources available.. Broadly, they can be classified as either DC or AC motors: DC motors (wound or permanent magnet) AC motors Induction motors squirrel cage, wound rotor Synchronous motors wound field, permanent magnet Brushless DC motor require power electronic converters Stepper motors require power electronic converters Synchronous reluctance motors or switched reluctance motor require power electronic converters b) Power processor or power modulator Since the electrical sources are normally uncontrollable, it is therefore necessary to be able to control the flow of power to the motor this is achieved using power processor or power modulator. With controllable sources, the motor can be reversed, brake or can be operated with variable speed. Conventional methods used, for example, variable impedance or relays, to shape the voltage or current that is supplied to the motor these methods however are inflexible and inefficient. Modern electric drives normally used power electronic converters to shape the desired voltage or current supplied to the motor. In other words, the characteristic 2

of the motors can be changed at will. Power electronic converters have several advantages over classical methods of power conversion, such as : More efficient since ideally no losses occur in power electronic converters Flexible voltage and current can be shaped by simply controlling switching functions of the power converter Compact smaller, compact and higher ratings solidstate power electronic devices are continuously being developed the prices are getting cheaper. Converters are used to convert and possibly regulate (i.e. using closed-loop control) the available sources to suit the load i.e. motors. These converters are efficient because the switches operate in either cut-off or saturation modes Several conversion are possible: AC to DC

Diode rectifier

DC-DC converter control

Controlled rectifier


DC to AC
Inverter (PWM)

DC-DC converter control

Inverter (six-step) control


DC to DC

DC-DC Converter


AC to AC
Controlled Rectifier control Inverter (six-step) control Diode Rectifier Inverter (PWM) control

Matrix Converter



Control Unit The complexity of the control unit depends on the desired drive performance and the type of motors used. A controller can be as simple as few op-amps and/or a few digital ICs, or it can be as complex as the combinations of several ASICs and digital signal processors (DSPs). The types of the main controllers can be: analog - which is noisy, inflexible. However analog circuit ideally has infinite bandwidth. digital immune to noise, configurable. The bandwidth is obviously smaller than the analog controllers depends on sampling frequency DSP/microprocessor flexible, lower bandwidth compared to above. DSPs perform faster operation than microprocessors (multiplication in single cycle). With DSP/microp., complex estimations and observers can be easily implemented.

d) Source Electrical sources or power supplies provide the energy to the electrical motors. For high efficiency operation, the power obtained from the electrical sources need to be regulated using power electronic converters Power sources can be of AC or DC in nature and normally are uncontrollable, i.e. their magnitudes or frequencies are fixed or depend on the sources of energy such as solar or wind. AC source can be either three-phase or single-phase; 3-phase sources are normally for high power applications There can be several factors that affect the selection of different configuration of electrical drive system such as: a) Torque and speed profile - determine the ratings of converters and the quadrant of operation required. b) Capital and running cost Drive systems will vary in terms of start-up cost and running cost, e.g. maintenance. c) Space and weight restrictions d) Environment and location

Comparison between DC and AC drives Motors : DC require maintenance, heavy, expensive, speed limited by mechanical construction AC less maintenance, light, cheaper, robust, high speed (esp. squirrelcage type) Control unit: DC drives: Simple control decoupling torque and flux by mechanical commutator the controller can be implemented using simple analog circuit even for high performance torque control cheaper. AC drives, the types of controllers to be used depend on the required drive performance obviously, cost increases with performance. Scalar control drives technique does not require fast processor/DSP whereas in FOC or DTC drives, DSPs or fast processors are normally employed. Performance: In DC motors, flux and torque components are always perpendicular to one another thanks to the mechanical commutator and brushes. The torque is controlled via the armature current while maintaining the field component constant. Fast torque and decouple control between flux and torque components can be achieved easily. In AC machines, in particular the induction machines, magnetic coupling between phases and between stator and rotor windings makes the modeling and torque control difficult and complex. Control of the steady state operating conditions is accomplished by controlling the magnitude and the frequency of the applied voltage; which is known 4

as the scalar control technique. This is satisfactory in some applications. The transient states or the dynamics of the machine can only be controlled by applying the vector control technique whereby the decoupling between the torque and flux components is achieved through frame transformations. Implementation of this control technique is complex thus requires fast processors such as Digital Signal Processors (DSPs). Overview of AC and DC drives The advancement in electric drive system is very much related to the development in the power semiconductor devices technology. The introduction of the Silicon-Controlled Rectifier (SCR) in 1957 has initiated the application of solid state devices in power converters. The development of the electrical drives systems can be divided into three stages Before power semiconductor devices were introduced: AC drives were used for fixed speed operation. Generating an AC voltage with variable frequency was only possible by using rotary converters, which are bulky and inflexible. Although it is possible to use variable voltage with fixed frequency sources to control the speed of AC motors, the efficiency of the drive system will be very poor especially at low speeds. On the other hand, variable DC supply can be produced using multi-machine configuration and hence could be used to control the armature voltage of the DC motors. Consequently, DC drives are widely used for variable speed operation, whereas AC machines were used mainly for fixed speed applications. After power semiconductor devices were introduced in 1950s Although self turnoff devices (Bipolar Junction Transistor BJT) were available in the 1950s their voltage ratings were too low which make them inappropriate to be used in power circuit. Silicon-Controlled Rectifier (SCR) was introduced in 1957. The higher ratings of SCR compared to the solid state transistor at that time, has made it possible for it to be used in static frequency converters or inverters. Speed control with AC motor can be performed because variable frequency AC supply can be generated using inverters. However, since the switching frequency of an SCR was low which require commutation circuit in order to turn off, square wave inverters were mainly used in AC drive system. In early 1960s, the improvement in the fabrication of BJT along with the introduction of pulse width modulation (PWM) control technique has significantly contributed to the improvement in the AC motor drives. Transient torque control to some extend, was nearly achieved to the expense of a very complex algorithm with numerous approximations. The true high performance torque control similar to DC drives was still not achievable due to the complex magnetic coupling between phases in the stator and rotor of the AC machines. Nevertheless, DC drives were gradually being replaced with AC drives in medium performance variable speed applications. Applications requiring precise and fast torque control were still dominated by DC drives. After semiconductor devices were introduced in 1980s In 1972, Prof. Blashke published his approach of AC motor control, to what is now known as Field Oriented Control (FOC) or vector control. FOC control basically transformed the control of AC motors to the one similar to DC motor control. In other words, the high performance torque control can be achieved using AC motors. This is possible through complex frame transformations and algorithm. However not until in the early 80s, where faster microprocessors were available, the algorithm used for FOC was not practically realizable. In 1980s, increasing number of applications utilizing FOC control could be found in industries. Applications which were previously possible only with DC drives were gradually being replaced with FOC of AC drives. It was predicted that the AC drives will eventually replace the DC drives in the near future.

Torque Equations For Rotating Systems The Newtons Law states that, the net force acting on a body of mass M equals to the rate of change of its mechanical momentum, which is the product of its mass and its velocity in the direction of the net force. In the equation form, this is given by (1) where F is the net force acting on the body, M is the mass of the body and v is its velocity. This is illustrated by Figure 4. x v Fp M Ff

Figure 4 Translational motion

With constant mass, (1) can be written as

For rotational motion (which is the case for rotating electrical machines), the force, the mass and the linear velocity is equivalent to the torque, the moment of inertia and the angular velocity, respectively. Equation (1) can therefore be written as (3) where T is the net torque, J is the moment of inertia and is the angular velocity. The rotational system which is analogous to the translational system of Figure 4 is shown in Figure 5.

, Te TL J

Figure 5 Rotational motion

For most of the cases, J is constant thus reducing (3) to (4) In terms of the angular position, , this can be written as

(5) For rotating electrical machines, the net torque is given by (6) where Te is the internal electrical torque produced by the motor, Tl is the load torque and/or the internal friction of the motor. T is the available torque at the shaft and is responsible for accelerating the inertia of the motor. T is also known as the dynamic torque and it only exists during the transient (i.e. acceleration and deceleration). In order to accelerate in forward direction, Te Tl must be positive; which means that the applied electrical torque must be larger than the load torque. In order to decelerate, the net torque must be negative; the electrical torque must be made smaller than the load torque and the motor operates in braking mode more on this later. Note that the speed is always continuous. A discontinuity in speed (i.e. step change in speed) theoretically will require an infinite torque. This is analogous to the voltage and current across a capacitor in which discontinuity in capacitor voltage is not allowed as it correspond to an infinite capacitor current. Equation (4) relates the torque and the mechanical speed (or position) of the machine. For a given electrical torque profile, with the known moment of inertia and the load torque, the speed profile of the drive system can be determined. In a torque-controlled drive system, the speed is governed by the load. If the load torque comprise of only the frictional torque which is proportional to the speed, (4) can be written as (7) Equation (7) can be easily simulated using SIMULINK as shown in Figure 6. In the simulation, a square wave torque is applied.

Figure 6 Dynamic simulation of mechanical system

Usually in a cascaded closed-loop control system in which the speed is to be controlled, the reference torque will be generated by the speed controller. In such cases, the torque will be governed by the speed. If we multiply (7) with the angular speed, we obtain an equation describing the power balance, (8) 7




Where pD = mTe is the driving power, pL = mTl is the load power and

is the change in

kinetic energy. Integrating the equation with time and setting the initial speed (0) = 0, we obtain the following:

(9) The last term of (9) is the stored kinetic energy of the system. It is analogous to the energy stored in a capacitor or an inductor . Similar to a capacitor voltage or an inductor current, an angular velocity must be continuous. An abrupt (discontinuous) change in will results in an infinite power. Relation between translational and rotational motions In most applications of the drive systems, the translational and rotational motions are related. An example of a typical system is shown in Figure 7.


Fl M



Figure 7 Translational and rotational motions

The relation between the torques and the linear forces are given by Also, Tl = rFl, Tm = rFm .

V = r If the mass M is constant, we can write

(10) Equation (10) states that the equivalent moment of inertia of the translational motion referred to the axis of the pulley is given by Jequ = Mr2

System with gears It was found out that machines designed to operate at low speeds are large in size compared to the ones which are designed to operate at high speeds. In order to avoid the unnecessary large size machines, high speed operations are normally preferred. However, in some applications, slow motion with high torque is required. Consequently for such applications, gears which reduce speed but amplify the torque, are commonly employed. An example of the hoist drive employing gears is shown in Figure 8.

1, T m
Loss-free gear

J2 J3


3 M3
Figure 8 Hoist drive with gears

The hoist drive system shown in Figure 8 can be represented by an equivalent system similar to Figure 5. In order to do that, we need to obtain the equivalent moment of inertia and load torque. If the mass M3 is considered being moved upwards, with the negligible frictional torque, it can be shown that the torque equation for the equivalent system is given by (11)


Steady state operating speed The characteristics of the motor and load are normally described based on their torque versus speed graph or T- characteristics. The T- characteristic of a motor corresponds to the variation of its torque versus its speed, with all other variables, including the voltage (or current) and frequency (for AC motor) are kept constant. Typical shape of T- characteristics of different motors are shown in Figure 9.

Synchronous motor

Separately excited DC motor

Induction motor

Series DC motor

The loads on the other hand will have their own T- characteristics. It is the intersection between the motor and the load T- characteristics that determines the steady state speed. This can be seen from (6) where at steady state d/dt = 0 and Te = Tl. 9

The steady state torque-speed characteristic of the motor depends on the applied voltage or current. Hence, by changing the point of intersections between the motor and load torque-speed curves, different steady-state speeds can be achieved.
Different steady-state torque-speed characteristics of the motor, Te


Torque-speed characteristic of the load, Tl

Different motor speeds


Figure 9 Different steady state speeds (Tl = Te) for different motors T- characteristics

It should be noted that the graph in Figure 9 only displayed the steady state characteristics of the load and motor. The transient responses before these steady state speeds are reached have to be dealt with using the dynamic characteristics of the load and motor. Components of Load Torque, Tl In general, the load torque Tl can be classified into two types: the passive load torque (frictional torque) and the active load torque. Frictional toque exists only when there is motion and it always opposes the driving torque. Active load torque on the other hand, is independent of the direction of motion. Frictional torque Moving parts of the motor and load constitute the frictional torque. There are several types of frictional as described in Figure 4 and explained below: Coulomb friction exists in bearings, gears, coupling and brakes. It is almost independent of speed. Viscous friction exist in lubricated bearings due to the laminar flow of the lubricant. It is directly proportional to the speed. Windage friction occurs due the turbulent flow of air or liquid. It is directly proportional to the square of speed

In practical drive system consisting of load and motor, all components of friction described above exist simultaneously. However, in most of the cases, only one or two components are dominating. For instance, a fan or a propeller will typically have the windage friction dominating, whereas in paper mill and machine tools, the dominating one could be the viscous friction.



Windage Viscous

Figure 10 torque


Constant torque The direction of constant load torque is independent of speed it retains the direction even when the direction of rotation reverses or changes, e.g. gravity, tension or compression undergone by elastic body. This type of torque is capable of driving the motor under equilibrium and is said to be an active torque.


Gravitational torque

Te TL = rFL = r g M sin TL



Figure 11

Constant load torque: gravitational force

Thermal considerations The losses in the machines contribute to the temperature increase in the machine. The various parts of the machine have different temperature limits. Particularly important is the insulation used for the windings which give rise to the different classes of machines. If the temperature goes beyond the allowable temperature, it will cause an immediate breakdown (short circuit in the winding) or it will deteriorate the quality and hence reduces the lifetime of the insulation material. Allowable power losses are higher for materials which can withstand higher temperature which translates to higher costs. The classes of the insulator used for the winding in electrical machines are shown in Table 1.


Table 1 Classification of the insulators Class V A E B F H C Three main cause of power losses are: Conductor losses (i2R) Exist in the windings, cables, brushes, slip rings, commutator, and etc. Core losses Mainly due to eddy current and hysteresis losses Friction and windage losses Mainly due to ball bearings, brushes, ventilation losses The constructions of the machines are very complex; normally built from various types of materials (heterogeneous) with complex geometrical shapes. To exactly predict the heat flow and hence the temperature distribution is extremely difficult. Based on the assumptions that the temperature limits of all parts does not exceed the temperature limits under certain operating conditions, the motors can therefore adequately modeled as homogeneous bodies. Obviously, this assumption cannot determine the specific internal thermal conditions for the motors. Max safe temp. oC 90 105 120 130 155 180 >180

Thermal capacity, C (Ws/oC) Surface A, (m2) Surface temperature, T (oC) Ambient temperature, To

p1 INPUT POWER (losses)

p2 OUTPUT POWER (convection)

Figure 12 Homogeneous body

Let us assume that a homogeneous body shown in Figure 12 represents a motor which has a thermal capacity C. The input power, which is the losses incurred in the motor, is represented by p1 whereas the output power, which is the power released as heat by convection, is represented by p2. The output power due to radiation is assumed negligible because of the low operating temperature and back radiation. Under a steady state condition, the input power equals the output power; this is when the steady state temperature is reached. The equation describing the power balance is given by (12)


The heat dissipated by convection is given by p2= A (T To) where is the coefficient of heat transfer. If we let T = T To , equation (12) can be written as (13)

or (14) where T = C/(A) is the thermal time constant. With T(0)=0 and a step change in the power input p1 from 0 to ph at t=0, the solution for T is (15) At steady state, T() = ph/(A) During cooling, i.e. when heat is removed at t=0, the temperature of the body decays to the ambient temperature. (16)

Heating transient

Cooling transient


Figure 13 Heating and cooling transients

The thermal time constant depends on the coefficient of heat transfer which in turn depends on the velocity of the cooling air. Machines which are self-ventilated will have larger cooling time constants compared to their heating (assumed moving) time constants. On the other hand machines with forced ventilation system will have a cooling and heating time constants of more or less equal. It should be noted that the thermal time constant of electrical machines are typically much larger than their mechanical or electrical time constants. It may vary from few minutes few hours. If the thermal time constant is large, a temporary overload is therefore possible without exceeding the temperature limits. Three typical modes of operation are: - Continuous duty - Short time intermittent duty - Periodic intermittent duty (i) Continuous duty The motor is loaded continuously. Obviously the rating of the motor must at least equal the continuous loading of the machine. Normally, motor with next higher power rating from commercial available rating is selected. (ii) Short time intermittent duty The time of operation is considerably less than the thermal time constant. The motor is allowed to cool to ambient temperature before the new load cycle is applied. The motor is allowed to be overloaded provided that the maximum temperature is not exceeded. However, the application of much higher power than the rated power is subject to the available torque of the machine. For DC machine this is limited due the sparking between the brushes and the commutator. In induction machine, this is limited by its pull-out torque. (iii) Periodic intermittent duty The load cycle is repeated periodically. The machine is not allowed to cool to ambient when the next load cycle is applied. The temperature will fluctuate and the mean value will eventually settle to a steady state value. The machine can be overloaded and amount of overloading depends on the duty cycle of the load. The heating and cooling time constant may be different depending whether the machine is self-cooled or forced-cooled.


Four-quadrant operation of a drive system The T plane with motors shaft cross sectional area is shown: Te II I T Te III IV Te


Figure 14 Four-quadrant operation of a drive system

The positive or forward speed is arbitrarily chosen in counterclockwise direction (it can also be chosen as clockwise). The positive torque is in the direction that will produce acceleration in forward speed, as shown above. The plane is divided into 4 quadrants , thus 4 modes of operation. The quadrants are marked as I, II, III and IV Quadrant I Both torque and speed are positive the motor rotates in forward direction, which is in the same direction as the motor torque. The power of the motor is the product of the speed and torque (P = Te), therefore the power of the motor is positive. Energy is converted from electrical form to mechanical form, which is used to rotate the motor. The mode of operation is known as forward motoring. Quadrant II The speed is in forward direction but the motor torque is in opposite direction or negative value. The torque produced by the motor is used to brake the forward rotation of the motor. The mechanical energy during the braking, is converted to electrical energy thus the flow of energy is from the mechanical system to the electrical system. The product of the torque and speed is negative thus the power is negative, implying that the motor operates in braking mode. The mode of operation is known as forward braking. Quadrant III The speed and the torque of the motor are in the same direction but are both negative. The reverse electrical torque is used to rotate the motor in reverse direction. The power, i.e. the product of the torque and speed, is positive implying that the motor operates in motoring mode. The energy is converted from electrical form to mechanical form. This mode of operation is known as reverse motoring.


Quadrant IV The speed is in reverse direction but the torque is positive. The motor torque is used to brake the reverse rotation of the motor. The mechanical energy gained during the braking is converted to electrical form thus power flow from the mechanical system to the electrical system. The product of the speed and torque is negative implying that the motor operates in braking mode. This mode of operation is known as reverse braking.

Ratings of converters and motors In order to accelerate to a given reference value, the motor torque has to be larger than the load torque. According to (1), the difference between Tl and Te determines how fast the angular acceleration is. For example, the speed and torque responses for a closed-loop speed control DC drive with two different torque limit setting (10 Nm and 15 Nm) is shown in Figure 7. The higher the torque during the speed transient, the faster is the speed gets to its reference.

Figure 7 Speed response with different torque limit settings

In most cases, the torque during this transient condition can be up to 3 times the rated torque of the motor and for servo motor, it can be as high as 8 to 10 times the rated value. This momentary high torque is possible due to the large thermal capacity of the motor with suitable insulators used for the winding. The converter, which conducts the motor current, must be able to sustain this condition. However since the thermal capacity of a switching device is small, the current cannot be higher than its rated value even for a short time. Consequently, the current rating of the converter is normally set to equal the maximum allowable motor current and this can be as high as the 3 times the motor rated current. The maximum allowable torque during transient of a drive system is determined by the current rating of the converter used whereas the continuous torque limit depends on the current rating of the motor. The operating area of a 4-quadrant motor drive is shown in Figure 8. The converter is normally protected from the overcurrent condition by the current limiter mechanism within the converter system, which means that sustained overloads on the motor has to be protected by an additional thermal protection mechanism. Above the base speed, b, the toque is limited by the maximum allowable power, which depends on whether the transient or continuous torque limit is considered. The speed limit basically depends on the mechanical limitation of the motor.


Transient torque limit Continuous torque limit Power limit for transient torque

Power limit for continuous torque Maximum speed limit

Figure 8 Limits for torque, speed and power for drive system

- b


Steady-state stability The motor will operate at the steady-state speed (point where Tl = Te) provided that the speed is of stable equilibrium. The stable equilibrium speed is investigated using steady-state torquespeed characteristics of the load and motor. A disturbance in any part of the drive will result in a speed to depart from the steady state speed. However, if the steady-state speed is of stable equilibrium, the speed will return to the stable equilibrium speed. On the other hand, if the speed is not of the stable equilibrium, the disturbance will results in the speed to drift away from the equilibrium speed. It can be shown mathematically that the condition for stable equilibrium is: (17) Torque Torque Te Tl Tl Te

speed Motor will decelerate back to equilibrium since Tl > Te

Figure 9 Steady state stability

speed Motor will accelerate away from equilibrium since Te > Tl


References G.K. Dubey, Fundamental of Electrical Drives, Narosa, 1994. W. Leonhard, Control of Electrical Drives, Springer-Verlag, 2001