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DEFINITION OF THE BRUSHLESS DC MOTOR

A. Kusko, Fellow, IEEE

S.M. Peeran, Member, IEEE


Kusko Electrical Division
Failure Analysis Associates
Westborough, MA

Abstract
Available definitions of a brushless dc
motor are inadequate to distinguish it from
other types of brushless motors in the
industry.
A
formal definition of a
brushless dc motor is proposed in this
paper.
The definition includes the
components of the motor and the types of
circuits to energize the stator windings.
1.

INTRODUCTION

The proliferation of electric motors driven


by solid-state controllers on the market has
raised the question of what is truly a
"brushless dc motor".
In this paper, the
authors propose definitions for the
brushless dc motor, its component parts, and
its circuits in terms of phases and pulse
numbers [l]. The authors do not propose to
define the whole spectrum of motors and
controllers, just the brushless dc motor.
The available formal definitions are
inadequate to distinguish this particular
type, the brushless dc motor, over others.
For example, the IEEE Standard Dictionary of
Electrical Terms, ANSI/IEEE std 100-1984
only d e f i n e s " b r u s h l e s s (rotating
machinery) " [ 2 I
The NEMA standard,
"Motion/Position Control Motors and
Controls", MG7-1987 [3], defines "Brushless
DC Motor" as,

"A brushless dc motor is a rotating


self-synchronous machine with a
permanent magnet rotor and with known
rotor shaft positions for electronic
commutation.
A motor meets this
definition whether the drive electronics
are integral with the motor or separate
from it."

Informal definitions are given by Kusko and


Peeran [l], Kenjo and Nagamori [4], Veinott
Electrocraft [6], and
and Martin [ 5 ] ,
others.

2.

BRUSHLESS MOTORS

stator, which is supplied from a dc


power source through an invertor
whose output voltage and frequency
are controlled independently of
shaft position.
Motor with a wound rotor and wound
stator, brushless exciter to supply
t h e rotor
(field) windings,
invertor to supply the stator
windings, which is either self
commutated or machine commutated,
invertor supplied by a dc link from
a converter.
Induction motor with stator
windings fed by a self commutated
invertor supplied by a dc link from
a converter.
System may utilize
shaft position sensors for vector
control.
3. PROPOSED DEFINITION OF BRUSHLESS DC
MOTOR
The proposed definition for the brushless dc
motor includes the following elements:
(1) A motor having stator
(armature)
windings and a permanent-magnet (PM) or
salient-pole soft-iron rotor.
Comment :
- the stator windings can be placed
on a ferromagnetic or an "air"
core.
- the salient-pole soft-iron rotor
encompasses stepper motors.
- the PM rotor can consist of single
or multiple pole patterns.
(2) Primary dc supply voltage.
Comment :
- as compared to a converter and dc
link.
( 3 ) Motor speed approximately proportional
to primary dc supply voltage.
Comment :
-to
o b t a i n dc
s h u n t motor
characteristics.
- to eliminate motor speed control by
frequency.
- assumes no speed or torque
regulator.

The proposed definition must distinguish the


brushless dc motor from the many types of
brushless motors.
Examples of brushless
motors include the following:

(4) Matrix of solid-state switches to apply


the primary dc voltage to the stator
windings.

(1) Motor with a permanent magnet (PM)


rotor and wound stator, which is
supplied from a dc power source
t h r o u g h t r a n s i s t o r switches
controlled by a shaft position
sensor.
(2) Motor with a PM rotor and wound

(5) Rotor shaft position sensors and logic


to control the switching times of the
matrix switches.
Comment :
- Could encompass a position sensor
which operates from the stator
winding voltages.

8 8 C H 2 5 6 5 - O / 8 8 / 0 l 1 . 00
0 1988 IEEE

The proposed definition for the brushless dc


motor is the following:

1)

A motor having stator


(armature)
windings and a permanent-magnet (PM) or
salient-pole soft-iron rotor.
The
stator windings are supplied from a
primary dc supply through a matrix of
solid-state
switches, which are
controlled by rotor shaft position
sensors and logic. In the absence of a
regulator, the motor
speed is
approximately proportional to the
primary dc voltage.

actual brushless dc motor can include a


speed or torque regulator, power supply for
the logic, and other features that are not
required in the definition to distinguish
the brushless dc motor over other types.

An

The One-Phase One-Pulse Motor, Fig


2(a) : The stator of this motor has only
a one-phase winding which is energized
by a transistor switch once per
electrical revolution.

t V

DEFINITION OF COMPONENT PARTS

4.

To remedy the possible confusion on


terminology of the component parts of the
brushless dc motor, a list of terms is
proposed keyed to Fig. 1 as follows:

0'

(c) 180

0 '

360

9
degrees

PY Rotor or
Salient Pole
Soft-Iron Roto
L S t a t o r windings
Control
Signal

Regulator

DC Supply

'

(d)

180

360

E
degrees

Controller

Fig. 1. Components of a Brushless DC Motor

(1) Brushless motor


stator
stator windings
PM rotor or salient pole soft iron
rotor
(2) Controller
switches
driver
(3) Shaft Position Sensor
sensor units
sensor armature
(4) Regulator

5.

(e)

de;rccs

+V

DEFINITIONS OF CIRCUITS

0,
degrees

The terminology for describing brushless dc


motor circuits has not been standardized
[l]
Each circuit is described by, phases
of the stator winding, current pulses
delivered to the windings by the switches,
or the number of poles on the rotor. The
following definitions of brushless motors
has been originally given by Muller [ 7 ] :

Fig. 2 . Types of brushless dc motors.


(a) One-phase one-pulse motor.
(b) One-phase two-pulse motor.
(c) Two-phase two-pulse motor.
(d) Three-phase three-pulse motor.
(e) Four-phase four-pulse motor.
(f) Three-phase six-pulse motor.

21

This results in a torque without gaps


and an exploitation of the winding up to
50 percent.
However, the expenditure
for the electronics is twice that of the
two-pulse design.

The torque output of such a motor is


completely insufficient because in the
best case it can only generate a
positive torque over 180 deg. el. The
remaining angular rotation has to be
overcome by the inertia of the rotor or
by means of auxiliary torques.
2)

6)

The One-Phase, Two-Pulse Motor, Fig 2


(b): The stator of this motor also has
a one-phase winding only but receives
two pulses, i.e., its winding is
energized by two current pulses in
opposite direction.

Such a motor not only delivers an even


torque output but the exploitation of
the material used is at its optimum.
Its disadvantage is the relatively high
cost for the position sensors and the
control electronics.

The. resulting torque distribution is,


therefore, more favorable than with the
one-pulse motor.
Still, a continuous
electromagnetic torque output is not
achieved. There are still small regions
without torque which have to be bridged
with suitable auxiliary means.
The
advantage of this motor is its simple
design, yielding a high exploitation of
the armature material.
3)

4.

7RFFERENCES
1.

2.

The Three-phase Three-Pulse Motor, Fig 2


(d): This motor has a stator with a
three-phase winding displaced by 120
deg. el.
Each phase winding is
energized by one pulse per electrical
revolution: three current pulses are fed
cyclically to the stator.

3.

4.

The fact that only three power


transistors are required is the main
advantage of this motor design.
One
disadvantage is the relatively low
exploitation of the winding (on the
average, approximately 33 percent) as
well as the requirement for three Hall
sensors.
5)

SUMMARY

A formal definition of the brushless dc


motor is proposed in this paper in order to
distinguish it from other types of brushless
motors. Definitions are also proposed for
the component parts of the brushless dc
motor and the circuits for energizing the
stator windings.

The Two-Phase Two-Pulse Motor, Fig. 2


(c): The stator of such a motor has
two-phase windings which alternatively
are energized by two current pulses.
Therefore, the torque generated i s
basically the same as with a one-phase,
two-pulse motor.
Nonetheless, the
winding will be utilized to 50 percent
only. The advantage of this motor is to
be
s e e n in its simple control
electronics.
The gaps of the generated
electromagnetic torque have to be
bridged by suitable auxiliary means as
with the one-phase motor.

4)

The Three-phase Six-Pulse Motor, Fig 2


(f): The stator of this motor is wound
with three phase windings displaced by
120 deg. el., which can be connected in
delta or in wye. Generally the neutral
point is not used.
The windings are
energized with six pulses by six power
transistors in cyclic sequence.

5.

6.

The Four-Phase Four-Pulse Motor, Fig 2


(e): The stator of this motor is wound
with four-phase windings displaced by 90
deg. el.
The phase windings are
energized cyclically with four current
pulses.

7.

22

A. Kusko and S.M. Peeran, "Brushless DC


Motors Using Unsymmetrical Field
Magnetization", IEEE Transactions on
Industry Applications, Vol. IA-23, No.
2, March/April 1987, pp. 319-326.
ANSI/IEEE Std. 100-1984, Third Edition,
"IEEE Standard Dictionary of Electrical
Terms", Institute of Electrical and
Electronics Engineers, Inc., New York,
NY, 1984, p. 107.
"Motion/position Control Motors and
Controls", NEMA MG7-1987 published by
National
E l e c t r i c Manufacturers
Association (NEMA).
T. Ken jo and S. Nagamori, ''Permanent
Magnet and Brushless DC Motors",
Clarendon Press, Oxford, England, 1985.
C.G.
Veinott
a n d J.E.
Martin,
"Fractional and
Sub-fractional
Horsepower Electric Motors", McGraw Hill
Book CO., NY, 1986, pp. 261-265.
E1ectr0-Craft Corporat ion , " DC Mot ors
Speed Controls Servo Systems, An
Engineering Handbook'' published by
Electro-Craft Corporation, 1975.
R. Muller, "Collector-less dc motor,*'
US Patent 3,873,897, 1967.