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Chapter: 1

Electrical Drives: An Introduction

Electrical Drives:
Motion control is required for large number of industrial and domestic applications like
transportation systems, rolling mills, paper machines, textile mills, machine tools, fans pumps
robots, washing machines e.t.c.
Systems employed for motion control are controls are called drives. Block diagram for electrical
drive system is shown in fig.
In India 1 phase or 3 phase 50 Hz ac supplies are readily available in most locations. Very low
power drives are generally fed from 1-phase source. Rest of the drives is powered form 3 phase
source. Some drives are powered from a battery, e.g. fork lift trucks and milk vans.
It is difficult to classify the power modulator. A somewhat satisfactory classification is: (a)
Converters (b) Variable Impedance (c) switching circuit.
Modulator performs the following four functions:
1. Modulates flow of power from the source to the motor in such a manner that motor is
imparted speed-torque characteristics required by the load.
2. During transient operations, such as starting, braking and speed and speed reversal, it
restricts source and motor currents within permissible values, excessive current drawn
from source may overload it or may cause a voltage dip.
3. Converts electrical energy of the source in the form suitable to the motor. (e.g. if the
source is dc and an induction motor is to be employed, then the power modulator is
required to convert dc into a variable frequency ac.
4. Selects the mode of operation of the motor (i.e. motoring or braking).
Motors commonly used in electrical drives are; dc motors shunt, series, compound and
permanent magnet; Induction motors squirrel cage, wound rotor and linear; synchronous motor
wound field and permanent magnet; brushless dc motors, and switched reluctance motor.
Loads us usually machinery designed to accomplish a given task, e.g. fans, pumps, robots,
washing machines, machines tools, trains and drills. A motor having speed torque characteristic
and capabilities match with the load demand.

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Control for power modulator is built in control unit which usually operates at much lower
voltage and power levels. Sensing of certain drive parameters, such as motor current and speed
may be required either for protection or for closed loop protection.
Advantages of electrical drives:
1. They have flexible control characteristics. The steady state and dynamic characteristics of
electrical drives can be shaped to satisfy the load requirements. Speed can be control in
wide limits. (Starting and breaking is usually simple and easy to operate).
(Availability of semiconductors converters employing thyristor, power transistors, IGBTs,
and GTOs linear and digital ICs, and microcomputers has made the control characteristics
even more flexible. It is possible to reshape characteristics of drives almost it at will to
meet load requirement in optimum manner).
2. They are available in wide range of torque speed and power.
3. Electrical motors have high efficiency, low no load losses and considerable short time
overloading capability. Can be made in variety of designs to make them compatible with
load. Compared to other prime movers they have lower noise, lower maintenance,
requirements and cleaner operation.
4. They are adaptable to any operating condition such as explosive and radioactive
environment and submerged in liquids, vertical mountings, and so on.
5. Do not pollute the environment.
6. Can operate in all four quadrants of speed-torque plan. Electric braking gives smooth
deceleration and increase the life of the equipment compare to other forms of braking.
Regenerative braking is also possible with electrical drive, considerable saving of energy
is achieved.
7. Electrical motor started instantly, and can immediately be fully loaded.
8. They are powered by electrical energy which has a number of advantages over the other
forms of energy. It can be generated and transported to the desired point economically
and efficiently.
Parts of electrical drives:
Electrical Motors:
Motors commonly used in electrical drives are; dc motors shunt, series, compound and
permanent magnet; Induction motors squirrel cage, wound rotor and linear;
synchronous motor wound field and permanent magnet; brushless dc motors, and
switched reluctance motor.
In the past, induction and synchronous motors were employed mainly in constant speed
drives. Variable speed drives consisting these machines were either too expensive or had
very poor efficiency. Consequently variable speed drive applications were dominated by
dc motors.
Ac motors are also used in variable drives due to the development of semiconductor
converters with thyristor, GTO, and IGBT.

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Due to the presence of commutator and brushes, dc motor have disadvantages over ac
one. (i.e. higher cost, weight, volume, and inertia for the same ratings.
Squirrel cage and wound rotor motor are cheaper than dc motor at the same rating and
their maintenance is much less than as compared to dc motor.
The dc servo motor has all the disadvantages of commutator and brushes. Recently
stepper motor has become popular for position control and switched reluctance motor
drive for speed control.
Power Modulator:
The power modulator is classifies as: 1) converters 2) variable impedances 3) switching
1. Converters:
Need for converters arise when nature of available electric power is different than
what is required for the motor. For the DC motor require the variable DC voltage and
for AC motors require the variable frequency or variable ac voltage.
Ac to dc converters:
a) Fig. a Diode rectifier is used for fixed dc from fixed voltage 1 or 3 phase
b) Fig. b to j are different converters for variable dc voltage from the variable
ac voltage.
Ac voltage controllers or ac regulators:
Ac voltage controllers are employed to get variable ac voltage of the same
frequency from a source of a fixed ac voltage.
The autotransformer capable of giving variable output voltage is not employed
due to sliding contacts. (fig. a)
Fig b. is used for the variable ac voltage from the fixed voltage ac supply. In
old drives may employ the magnetic amplifier for variable voltage ac supply.
But due to its high cost, weight and volume and poor efficiency they have
been replaced by thyristors voltage controllers.
In thyristor voltage controllers the voltage can be vary by the changing firing
angle of the power electronics switches with the help of low power control
Choppers or dc dc converters:
They are used for the variable dc voltage from the fixed dc voltage by using
power electronics switches like IGBTs, GTO, power MOSFETs and
Thyristors. Output voltage can vary sleeplessly by controlling the duty ratio of
the devices by the low power signals from a control unit.

Inverters are employed to get a variable frequency as supply from a dc supply.
There are stepped wave semiconductor are used for stepped output as stepped
variable voltage or current. But, it has harmonics at the output stage of
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stepped output. So, there are used PWM semiconductor inverters for reduced
the harmonics at the output side. Various PWM methods are used for
controlling the output.
Cycloconverters is used for the variable frequency and variable voltage from
the fixed voltage and fixed frequency ac supply.
2. Variable impedances:
Variable resistances are commonly used for the control of low cost dc and ac drives
and are also needed for dynamic braking. Variable resistors may have two or more
steps and can be controlled manually or automatically with the help of contactors.
Stepless variation of resistance can be obtained by a semiconductor switch in parallel
with a fixed resistance. Stepsless Variation can be achieved by the changing the duty
cycle of the switch.
3. Switching Circuits:
Switching operations are required to achieve any one of the following: i) for changing
motor connection to change its quadrant of operations ii) for changing motor circuit
parameters in discrete steps for automatic starting and breaking control. iii) for
operating motors and drives according to a predetermine sequence iv) to provide
interlocking to prevent maloperation and v) to disconnect the motor when abnormal
operating condition occur.
In India 1 phase and 3- phase supplies are readily available in most locations. Very low
power drives are generally fed from 1 phase source. Rest of the drives is fed from 3
phase source.
[Most of the drives are directly fed by ac source. When fed by 50 Hz ac supply the
maximum speed of induction and synchronous motor is limited to 3000 rpm. For higher
speed higher frequency supply is mandatory]
Low and medium power motors are generally fed from 400 V supply and for high ratings,
motors may be rated at 3.3 kV, 6.6 kV, and 11 kV and higher.
In main traction a high voltage supply is preferred because of economy. In India 25 kV 50
Hz supply is employed. Underground traction system employs a low voltage (500V to
750V) dc supply.
Some drives are powered from a battery, depending upon their size and terminal voltage
may have typical values 6V, 12V, 24V, 48V and 110V.
Control Unit:
Control of the power modulator provided with control unit. Nature of the control unit is
depending upon the power modulator that is used.
When semiconductor converters are used, the unit will consist of firing circuits, which
employ linear and digital integrated circuits and transistors, and microprocessor when
sophisticated control is required. When control of switching circuits is required than
purpose of the control unit will be to provide sequencing an interlocking. Solid state

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relays are used when control is complex programmable logic controllers (PLCs) can be
Choice of electrical drives:
Choice of electrical drive depends upon numbers of factors; some of the important factors are,



Steady state operation requirements: Nature of the speed torque characteristics,

speed regulation, speed range, efficiency, duty cycle, quadrants of operation, speed
fluctuations e.t.c
Transient operation requirements: Values of acceleration, deceleration, starting,
breaking, and reversing performance.
Requirements related to the source: Type of source, and its capacity, magnitude of
voltage, voltage fluctuation, power factor, harmonics and their effect on other loads,
ability to accept regenerated power.
Capital and running cost, maintenance, life.
Space and weight restrictions if any.
Environmental and locations.

Status of AC and DC drives:

In the past induction and synchronous motor drives were mainly used in fixed speed
applications. Variable speed applications were dominated by dc motor drives. Emergence of
thyristor in 1957 lead to the development of variable speed induction motor drives in late
sixties which were efficient and could match the performance of dc drives.
After that the advantages of squirrel cage induction motor drives will replace dc drives in
variable speed applications.
1. Although squirrel cage induction motor was cheaper than dc motor, the converter and
control circuit of a circuit of an induction motor drive was very expensive compared to
those for a dc drive.
2. Ac drives were not as reliable as dc.
After the availability of power transistors GTO and IGBTs, reduction in cost of thyristor.
Also improve the control techniques of control unit, improve the reliability of the ac drive. In
several applications, ac drives are much popular than dc drive. The permanent magnet
synchronous motor and brushless DC motor are being considered for replacing DC servo

Prepared By- Bhagchand D. Thavrani