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Department of Engineering, Cambridge Uiniversity
Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 IPZ, United Kingdom

Abstract-The paper describes the use of a formal optimisation proce- shapes of these slots have arisen largely as a result of evolu-
dure to determine the design of a rotor slot to obtain maximum efficiency. tion rather than revolution and there can be no certainty that
The method involves the use of an equivalent-circuit model coupled to
a finite-element field-model to calculate machine performance. Typical they are in any sen,sethe best for the specific task in hand.
results are given for a 37kW 4 pole motor designed for three particular The purpose of this paper is to present the results of a design
applications, and for a 150kW 2 pole general purpose motor. optimisation study in which the authors sought to discover the
‘best’ rotor slot shape to meet certain applications roles. The
I . INTRODUCTION best shape is taken, for the purposes of this study, to be that
which meets the performance specification whilst giving the
Induction motor manufacturers design machines for a wide highest efficiency.
range of applications with different performance require-
ments. Typical applications include drives for pumps, fans 11. APPROACHES
and compressors. If possible, the manufacturer will use a
general-purpose motor to meet the application requirements. Rotor slot design has traditionally been a process of evo-
National standards exist which provide a minimum perfor- lution; the designer begins with an existing slot shape and
mance specification for these general-purpose motors. In the alters the dimensicm until the performance specification is
UK the relevant standards authority is British Standards [ l ] met. This process usually results in slot shapes which are not
and in the USA it is NEMA [2] .These standards set a maxi- radically different from existing designs. In addition, the de-
mum value for the locked-rotor current and minimum values signer has no formid way of ensuring that further alterations
for the locked-rotor torque, pull-up torque and breakdown to the dimensions will not produce improved performance.
torque of a motor, dependent upon its rating. Designers often Much depends upon the skill and experience of the designer.
impose further performance requirements, frequently as a re- An alternative to this cut-and-try approach is to use a formal
sult of marketing considerations. Normally minimum values method in which the slot dimensions are altered determinis-
of power factor and efficiency are also specified and a tighter tically until the desired performance is achieved. Formal
specification may be placed upon the starting performance, techniques of this type are well-suited to the task of induction
pull-up torque and breakdown torque. Another common re- motor design. Appelbaum, Khan and Fuchs [3], Singh, Singh
quirement is that the efficiency is maximised whilst all other and Jha [4] and Fei, Fuchs and Huang [5] have all described
performance idices in the specification are met. the application of optimisation techniques to induction mo-
If a general-purpose motor is not suitable for the applica- tor design. More recent applications utilising this approach
tion a special motor must be designed. The performance of a include the design of energy efficient motors for irrigation
special motor is not governed by any standards but depends pumps by Shridhar, Singh, Jha, Singh and Murthy [6] and the
solely upon the application requirements. The specification design of a maximum torque motor by Poloujadoff, Christaki
will, however, usually contain the same performance indica- and Bergmann [7]. A general technique has been described
tors as that of a general-purpose motor. If a motor is designed by Williamson and Smith [8] who defined a ‘cost’ function in
to a particular standard its compliance will be flagged on the terms of the margin by which a particular design fails to meet
label. each specified index of performance. Selecting a suitable
The design of the rotor of an induction motor is critical in set of design parameters can the be equated with minimising
meeting the performance specification because the shape of this cost function. The procedure involved is summarised in
the torque speed curve is largely determined by the rotor de- Section 111. Before such a procedure can be employed, how-
sign. Manufacturers of cage induction motors with closed ro- ever, it is necessary to decide which design parameters are to
tor slots employ a limited repertoire of slot shapes. Typically, be varied. To this end the authors use the generic rotor slot
slots may be trapezoidal, rectangular, round or Boucherot. shown in Fig. 1.
The more intricate slot shapes successfully exploit skin effect The generic slot is divided into 13 sections, as shown. The
to obtain specific performance characteristics - such as a high widths w l , w2 . . .tu14 are all design variables that must be
starting torque or a high breakdown torque. However, the chosen, as are the bridge depth ( d l ) and the depth of the

0-7803-3008-0195 $4.00 0 1995 IEEE 507

Central to the deterministic design approach described by
Williamson and Smith [SI is the definition of an appropri-
ate cost function. This cost function is a measure of the
margin by which a particular design fails to meet the perfor-
mance specification. For the purposes of this paper the per-
formance specification requires that the full-load efficiency
is maximised, whilst other performance indices are met (or
exceeded). The performance indices chosen by the authors
are those commonly found in the BS and NEMA standards
and in design specifications. These are:
0 minimum locked-rotor torque, To
0 minimum pull-up torque, Tpu
minimum breakdown torque, Tbmzn
0 maximum breakdown torque, Tbmas
0 maximum locked-rotor current, Io
0 minimum full-load efficiency, q
0 minimum full-load power factor, cos
No economic factors are included in the performance spec-
ification as it is assumed here that the manufacturing and ma-
terial costs for all slots remain constant. If required, it would,
of course, be possible to include an index in the performance
specification to represent these economic considerations. The
minimum acceptable values of To,Tpu, and Tb and maxi-
mum acceptable values of I , and Tb will depend on the rele-
vant standards and the application (eg fan drive, pump drive).
These may be fixed in per-unit terms. The minimum power
factor, cos 4, is set at an acceptable level. The minimum full-
load efficiency is regarded as a ‘target’ value. It is initially
set at an achievable level and then raised progressively as
the optimisation proceeds. This procedure will be discussed
further below. Suppose now that a particular set of design
variables results in a macvne with a locked-rotor torque To
and locked-rotor current I,. The error in locked-rotor torque
may be defined by,
Fig. 1. Generic rotor slot

bottom section (dz). The depths of the upper sections of the This error will be zero if the design meets or exceeds the
slot are deemed to be fixed. The first 6 sections have depth do locked-rotor torque specification, but is proportional to the
and the next 6 have depth 2do, where do is equal to one twelfth relative deficiency in locked-rotor torque if it does not. The
of the skin depth of the rotor bar conductor at locked rotor. corresponding error in the locked-rotor current may be de-
There is therefore a total of 14 widths and 2 depths to choose, fined by,
giving 16 design parameters in all. It would be possible to
increase the number of variables to include all rotor and stator
design parameters. This would, however, result in a problem
that is intractable, even with the power of modern computers.
E2 =
Io 16
I* L I:,

€2 will be zero when the locked-rotor current is equal to, or

Furthermore, the focus of this investigation is on the shape less than, the maximum specified value. Similar expressions
of rotor slots. For these reasons the approach taken by the are used to define the error for each performance index in the
authors has been to choose industrially-designed machines specification using a relationship such as (1) if a minimum
and to seek to improve their performance by redesigning the value is specified and a relationship such as (2) if a maximum
rotor slots. value is specified. The errors are then summed to give the

cost function workstation, making the calculation of function gradients us-
ing finite differences unfeasible. The choice of optimisation
methods is therefore greatly reduced because many common
techniques require gradient information. There are several
The selection of a set of design variables which results optimisation methods which rely solely on function values.
in a machine that meets the performance specification and In recent years there has been much interest in the methods
achieves the target efficiency is clearly equivalent to reducing of Simulated Annealing [IO] and Genetic Algorithms [11],
C to zero. One of a variety of optimisation algorithms may which, if applied correctly, can obtain the global minimum of
be used to achieve this. If the algorithm successfully reduces a function. These methods are well-suited to problems where
C to zero the efficiency target is raised and the optimiser is there are a number of local minima which may trap tradi-
rerun. This process is repeated until the optimiser fails to tional search metholds and prevent the global minimum being
find a zero. This procedure ensures that the highest possible found. However, if these conditions do not exist a determinis-
efficiency is obtained. tic method will frequently converge more rapidly than either
The design process is an example of a constrained opti- of these stochastic methods. If necessary, the optimisation
misation problem. Limits on the slot dimensions exist from process can then ble repeated using a different set of initial
consideration of feasible geometries. For example, none of conditions to check; that the same minimum is achieved. In
the dimensions can be negative and a maximum value for the terms of the work in this paper, a new set of initial conditions
depth, d2, exists as the slot cannot extend into the shaft. In ad- equates to a new ‘start’ geometry for the slot. It was found
dition to these geometrical constraints further constraints on that for the range of slot optimisation problems investigateda
the dimensions are obtained from consideration of the man- deterministic optimisation method performed adequately and
ufacturing processes. A minimum value for the tooth width a stochasticmethod was not, therefore, required. The method
exisls if the laminations are to be punched reliably. Further- chosen by the authors for minimising C is Powell’s Method
more, the casting process requires that the aspect ratios of [121.
slot sections are not extreme, otherwise air bubbles may form
in the bar. These constraints on the design variables may be Iv. IMPLEMENTATION OF ROTORSLOT OPTIMISATION
introduced through the use of penalty functions. Suppose, for
example, that at an intermediate stage the optimisation algo- The process of rottor slot optimisation based on the generic
rithm chooses a set of dimensions which include a value for slot of Fig.l requires that values for 16 variables be chosen.
w1 which is less than its allowable minimum wl(mzn). The These variables are the widths w1,w2 . . .~ 1 and 4 the depths

cost function is calculated as if the limiting value, wl(mzn) dl ,d2. This process could be implemented as a 16 variable
had been chosen and it is then multiplied by a penalty factor, optimisation problem. However, such an approach was not
P where, adopted because the time taken for a 16 variable optimisation

- w1
l2 (4)
to converge was found to be excessive. lnstead a two-step
successive-refinement strategy was employed. In the first
step the entire rotor slot geometry is optimised to provide
The effect of P is to cause C to increase rapidly when a good estimates of thie values for the design variables. A more
‘forbidden’ value of w1 is chosen so that the optimiser will detailed optimisation of the top region of the slot is then per-
rapidly readjust w1 to an acceptable value. In a similar fash- formed. This approach was chosen because the performance
ion w1 will have a maximum permitted value and a penalty of the motor at starting is an important component of the per-
function can be used if the optimiser attempts to choose a formance specification. At starting, the rotor frequency is the
value of w1 greater than If more than one variable line frequency and so the skin depth is at its smallest value.
is chosen by the optimiser to lie outside its permitted lim- Therefore the performance of the motor at starting is largely
its the cost function is multiplied by the penalty factors for determined by the geometry of the top of the slot.
each such variable. As penalty functions are used to impose In the first step the widths w1, w3, wg, w7 . . . w14 and the
constraints an unconstrained method can be used to minimise depth d2 in Fig. 11 are the variables to be chosen by the
C. optimiser. The bridge depth, d l is fixed. To reduce the
There is a wide variety of optimisation methods available number of variables; in this optimisation step the widths 202,
for minimising an unconstrained function [9]. The choice of w4 and are not riot regarded as independent variables but
optirnisation method for minimising C is largely determined are chosen as the mean of their neighbours, ie
by the time taken to calculate a single value of the cost func-
tion. As will be explained below, machine performance is
evaluated using a finite-element model for the rotor. For each
new design it is necessary to generate a new mesh and carry The results obta.inedafter convergence of this first step are
out repeated finite element solutions. Consequently the cal- used to set the initial1conditions for the second step. This step
culation of C takes approximately 30 minutes on a Sparc 10 is essentially a ‘fine tuning’ process which optimises the top

section of the slot only. The widths w12, ~ 1 3~, 1 and 4 the
depth d2 are fixed at the values obtained from the previous
optimisation step. The design variables are now the bridge
depth, d l , and the widths w1 . . . w11.
The original 16 variable optimisation problem has therefore slot
been reduced to two optimisation problems, each with 12
variables. Throughout the process the stator design, core
length, rotor and shaft diameters and the number of rotor slots
remain constant as the stated objective of this investigation is
to examine the shape of rotor slots.

The key to the reliable operation of the optimisation pro-
cedure discussed in the preceding sections is the accurate
calculation of the performance of a machine with any given
combination of the design parameters. If the performance
calculation is not accurate the cost function will not be eval-
uated correctly and the procedure will result in a less than
Fig. 2. Single-slot rotor model
optimal design. For this reason the authors chose the steady-
state, chain-harmonic equivalent-circuit model as a basis for
performance calculation. Accurate performance prediction
depends, of course, on accurate calculation of the compo- The field solution is based on the two-dimensional integro-
nents of this equivalent-circuit model. differential equation proposed by Konrad [15], which allows
In the rotor, magnetic saturation clearly plays an impor- a specified bar current to redistribute under skin effect. As-
tant role. It might appear that a simple way of increasing suming all quantities vary sinusoidally with time
efficiency is to increase the rotor slot width, thereby reduc-
ing the rotor-bar resistance. However, widening the slot will
also increase the tooth saturation and may result in a per-
formance deterioration. It is therefore important that a rotor in which the overbars indicate the use of complex notation.
model which incorporates saturation is used. In addition, 1,is the mean (or d.c.) current distribution in the bar cross-
because an accurate prediction of the starting performance section and A, is the mean value of A over the bar cross-
is required, the model used must also include deep-bar ef- section. w is the rotor (ie slip) frequency. As saturation plays
fect. As finite-element analysis is capable of modelling both a key role in closed-slot induction motors, the reluctivity
these effects it is eminently suitable for calculating rotor pa- v in (6) must be allowed to vary with the local value of flux
rameters. However, an inherent draw-back of finite-element density. A suitable definition for this form of ‘a.c. reluctivity’
analysis is the time required for a solution to be obtained. If has been defined by Luomi, Niemenmaa and Arkkio. [ 161.
the design optimisation process is to be feasible it is essen- In the single-slot model, the presence of the rest of the rotor
tial that each performance calculation is carried out relatively is implied by the use of a periodic boundary condition on the
quickly because many such calculations are required by the radial boundaries. Thus if X and X ‘ are two corresponding
optimisation algorithm. Fortunately, the rotor of an induc- points on the radial boundaries (see Fig 2), the fields at these
tion motor is highly symmetrical, making it possible to use two points are related by
a reduced model spanning only one slot pitch. In this way a (7)
high degree of accuracy can still be obtained without incur-
ring an excessive time penalty. Williamson and Begg [ 131 where p is the number of pole pairs and Nb is the num-
and Williamson and Robinson [14] have described in detail ber of rotor bars. A suitable boundary condition must also
a suitable single-slot model which allows the rotor resistance be specified on the stator surface BC. The saturation in the
and leakage reactance per bar to be calculated for a given bar rotor depends not only on the rotor MMF but also on that
current and rotor frequency. of the stator. These two MMFs face each other across the
This single-slot model is shown in Fig.2. In the figure airgap, and are almost equal and opposite in magnitude. It is
BC represents the stator surface; AB and CD are radial lines the small difference between them (the magnetising MMF)
spanning one rotor slot pitch and AD is the interface between which drives the airgap flux. If only the MMF produced by
the shaft and the rotor lamination. The length of the airgap the rotor current were included in the model the airgap flux
that faces this single-slot sector of the rotor is equal to the would greatly exceed that present in the real machine and
clearance gap multiplied by Carter’s coefficient for the stator. consequently the rotor iron would be heavily saturated. The

presence of the stator MMF must therefore be included in flux, and then evaluate the iron loss in these regions using the
the model. It can be allowed for by placing a sinusoidal cur- same loss density expression as used in the rotor [18].
rent distribution on the arc BC. The magnitude of this current
sheet is initially estimated and is then adjusted iteratively un- VI. EXAMPLES
til there is just enough airgap flux to sustain the current in The techniques described in the previous sections have
the bar. At this point the appropriate air-gap field has been been used to optiimise rotor slots for two motors. In each
established and the saturation in the rotor will be correct. The case an existing motor design was used as the basis for the
values of bar resistance and inductance can then be obtained optimisation to ensure that the stator design and core-length
from the field solution [13] [14]. These values must be aug- used were realistic:. Some general information about the two
meinted by the end-ring resistance and reactance for use in an motors is contained in Table I.
equivalent-circuit model.
The procedure for including the finite-elementmodel in the
performance calculation is relatively straightforward. The
stator components of the equivalent-circuit model are de- I Motor 1 1 Motor 2
termined using a combination of classical expressions and a I 37 1 150
simple reluctance network. The magnetising reactance is cal- Line voltage (V)
culated in part from the reluctance network and in part from Frequency (Hz)
the finite-element rotor model [14]. The rotor resistance and
reactance are calculated from the finite-elementsolution. All 48
Components of the equivalent circuit are now known, and the 40
circuit may be solved to determine the rotor current. This
calculated rotor current is referred to the rotor bars and com-
pared to the bar current that was used in the finite-element
solution. If the two are substantially in agreement, then the A. Motor I: 37 kW 4 pole
solution is deemed to have converged and the performance The rotor slot for motor one was optimised for three differ-
indices at that operating point may be calculated. If the rotor ent applications - a. general-purpose motor for use in the UK,
current calculated from the equivalent circuit differs from that a motor for a fan application and a motor for use on an oil rig.
used in the finite-element solution then a new finite-element In all 3 cases it was required that the efficiencyof the machine
solution is carried out, using the rotor current from the equiv- be maximised whilst all other specified performance indices
alent circuit to determine the mean bar current density ( j oin were met. The performance indices specified for each of the
(6)). This process is repeated until satisfactory convergence applications are lis,ted in Table 11. The special requirements
is achieved. This procedure ensures that the rotor parameters for each type of motor will now be considered in turn.
used in the equivalent circuit are compatible with the rotor
The accurate calculation of efficiency depends largely on
the accurate calculation of losses. Copper losses may be eval-
uated directly from the equivalent circuit but iron losses are
Performanceindex I General I FanLoad I OilRig I BS4999
more difficult to assess. In the rotor, the principal cause of Tomin (P.u.)
._ I 2.5 I . , I 2.0
0.5 (star) I 1.3

iron loss is the high-frequency fields of pole-pair numbers T,,, min (D.U.) I 2.5 I 0.5 (star) I 1.5 I 1.0
T b min (P.u.)
yN, fp , due to stator slotting. N,is the stator slot number,
T b max (P.u.) 4.0
p is the pole-pair number, and y is any integer. The pole-
pitch of these harmonics is relatively short, and time-stepped Io max (P.u.) M 10
finite-element studies have shown that they only penetrate a cos d min 0.85
short distance into the iron [17]. These harmonics are, in
fact, the principal cause of rotor surface loss. The authors The general-purpose motor is intended for use in the UK
evaluate this loss by calculating the flux density in a set of and must therefore imeet the performance specifiedby BS4999,
thin layers close to the rotor surface and then using the iron the relevant Britishi Standard [ 11. This performance specifi-
loss density expression proposed by Atallah, Zhu and Howe cation is also included in the final column of Table I1 for
[ 181. In the stator, iron losses arise as a result of both the fun- reference. Many manufacturers express the locked-rotor cur-
damental and the rotor slot-harmonic fluxes. The magnitude rent of a motor as ai per unit value of the full-load current. In
of the latter may be determined directly from the rotor finite- BS4999 the locked-rotorcurrent restriction is not specified in
element field solution, which automatically allows for both this way. Instead a maximum value of locked-rotor apparent
slotting-harmonicand permeance-harmonic effects. Broadly, power is specified, expressed as a per unit value of the rated
the authors subdivide the stator iron into regions of constant power. This ratio, unlike the current expressed in per unit

51 1
terms, is independent of full-load efficiency and can therefore
be used to compare the locked-rotor currents of motors with
different full-load efficiencies. In this paper all locked-rotor 1 skin depth
at 50Hz
current requirements are expressed as per unit values of the
full-load current, because this method is generally familiar to
designers. The per unit locked-rotor apparent power speci-
fied in BS4999 has therefore been converted to an equivalent
per unit locked-rotor current for inclusion in Table 11. In the
conversion it was assumed that the full-load efficiency was

approximately 90%. It can be seen that a much higher spec-

ification has in fact been set for the general-purpose motor
than is required by BS4999. This enables a general-purpose
motor to be used for a wide range of applications, reducing
the need for special motors to be manufactured.
The second type of specification listed in Table I1 is for a
fan drive. Motors for fan applications only require low values
of locked-rotor torque and pull-up torque because the torque
required to accelerate a fan is approximately proportional
to the speed squared. Frequently star/delta starting is used
in applications to limit the magnitude of the locked-rotor
current. The authors therefore chose to optimise a motor for
use in a fan application requiring staddelta starting. When
staddelta starting is used the motor must produce the required
locked-rotor and pull-up torque when connected in star and
must also have a breakdown torque of at least 1.O p.u. in star,
otherwise the fan will not accelerate to full-load speed.
The final specification listed in Table I1 is for a motor
for use on an oil rig. The power supply on an oil rig is
generally less robust than the public supply so motors for use
in this type of application normally have a lower value of
starting current than a general-purpose motor. In addition,
correspondingly lower values of starting torque and pull-up
torque are specified so that it is still possible to design a
machine with an acceptable efficiency.
The optimised slots obtained for each application are shown
in Fig 3. Also included is the original slot which was used Original design
as the starting point for the optimisation procedure. The cal- General purpose motor
culated performance of the motor with each of these slots is ._.__._._.
Oil rig motor
given in Table 111. Fan motor


Performance Original General Fan Load Oil Rig

Index , It can be seen that for all three applications the performance
rl(%’.> 92.28 93.04 I 93.14 92.58 specification has been met, with the optimisation process pro-
To(U .U. 2.2 2.5 I 0.5 (star) 2.0 ducing quite different slot shapes for each of the applications.
Some insights into the reasons for the shapes of the redesigned
slots may be gained by considering their cross-sectional areas,
2.5 (star) which are given in Table IV.
cos cp 0.86 0.88 0.89 0.87 The first observation is that all three of the new slot designs
0.0178 have approximately the same cross-sectional area, 150mm2 *
4%, which is 18% bigger than that of the original design. To
explore this further consider the expression for output power,

proportional to &b. Therefore,

I I SlotArea,Ab I SAb I IA2

w constant (12)

Original 2.515
The ratio is listed in Table V for each motor. The
Fan drive 2.556 ratio for the fan motor has been calculated as if the motor
Oil rig I 144 I 2.567 were delta connected so that it can be compared with the
other designs. The values given in Table V indicate the level
of approximation embodied in (12). An increase in Ab6 may
now be seen to be equal to a reduction in the ratio of the
starting torque to the square of the starting current. Ab6 is
therefore smaller for an oil rig motor which requires a high
At full load, the referred rotor resistance is approximately starting torque ancl low starting current than for a fan-drive
equal to the inverse of the bar cross-sectional area (neglecting motor which has it lower starting torque to starting current
end-ring resistance), so that ratio.

B. Motor 2: 150 kW 2 pole

The rotor slot for motor 2 has been optimised for a general-
k is a constant, s is the full-load slip and Ab is the bar cross- purpose motor applicationfor use in the UK. The performance
sectional area. For a fixed pole number, supply frequency, specified for this application is listed in Table VI along with
voltage and output power the terms on the right hand side of the values stipulated by BS4999 and the calculated perfor-
(9) are approximately constant (given than all reasonable de- mance of the motor after rotor slot optimisation. As for
signs will have closely the same efficiencyand power factor), motor 1, the target specification is higher than that required
therefore by BS4999. The slot obtained from optimisation with this
sAb M constant (10) specification is shown in Fig 4, together with the slot used as
The product of full-load slip and bar cross-sectional area is the starting geometry for the optimisation.
given in Table IV for all four 37kW motors (ie original plus
three new designs). It is evident that SAb is indeed constant TABLE VI. TARGET AND CALCULATED PERFORMANCE FOR MOTOR 2
as indicated by (10). An increase in bar area can therefore
be simply equated to a reduction in full-load slip, leading to
a consequential increase in rotor efficiency.
Although all three redesigned slots have approximatelythe
same cross-sectional area, the proportion of this area which
lies within one locked-rotor skin-depth of the bar top is dif-
ferent for each slot. These areas are listed in Table V.
I 10 I 8.0
I cos0 I >. 0.87 I - I 0.903

rotor skin depth of

The results in Table VI show that the optimised design is
predicted to meet or exceed all performance requirements.
The final slot outline selected by the optimiser is the well-
General Puruose 1.56
known ‘double-cage’ type of slot, albeit with a wider head
Fan drive 57 1.52
than is usual. Examination of the current distribution at
Oil rig 22 1.22
locked-rotor revealed that the current concentrates at the lat-
eral extremities of the slot head. The efficacy of this slot is
A similar analysis to that above may be carried out for still under investigation.
locked-rotor conditions. At locked rotor the torque is given,
approximately, by
To M ~
(1 1) The authors have described a general technique that is ca-
pable of producing revolutionary, rather than evolutionary,
where R,, is the locked rotor resistance, referred to the changes to rotor slot designs. It has been used to improve
stator. Neglecting rotor end-ring resistance, Rio is inversely the design efficiencies of several cast-rotor machines and has

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Fig. 4. Optimised slot for motor 2
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cage induction machines. 7th IEE Electrical Machines
[l] British Standards. BS4999: Part 112, 1987.
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