Synchronous Motor

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  • Topic: Electric motor, Stator, Power factor
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  • Published : November 27, 2012
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Chapter (11)

Synchronous Motors
It may be recalled that a d.c. generator can be run as a d.c. motor. In like manner, an alternator may operate as a motor by connecting its armature winding to a 3-phase supply. It is then called a synchronous motor. As the name implies, a synchronous motor runs at synchronous speed (Ns = 120f/P) i.e., in synchronism with the revolving field produced by the 3-phase supply. The speed of rotation is, therefore, tied to the frequency of the source. Since the frequency is fixed, the motor speed stays constant irrespective of the load or voltage of 3phase supply. However, synchronous motors are not used so much because they run at constant speed (i.e., synchronous speed) but because they possess other unique electrical properties. In this chapter, we shall discuss the working and characteristics of synchronous motors.

11.1 Construction
A synchronous motor is a machine that operates at synchronous speed and converts electrical energy into mechanical energy. It is fundamentally an alternator operated as a motor. Like an alternator, a synchronous motor has the following two parts: (i) a stator which houses 3-phase armature winding in the slots of the stator core and receives power from a 3-phase supply [See (Fig. (11.1)]. (ii) a rotor that has a set of salient poles excited by direct current to form alternate N and S poles. The exciting coils are connected in series to two slip rings and direct current is fed into the winding from an external exciter mounted on the rotor shaft. The stator is wound for the same number of poles as the rotor poles. As in the case of an induction motor, the number of poles determines the synchronous speed of the motor:



Synchronous speed, N s = where

120f P

f = frequency of supply in Hz P = number of poles

An important drawback of a synchronous motor is that it is not self-starting and auxiliary means have to be used for starting it.

11.2 Some Facts about Synchronous Motor
Some salient features of a synchronous motor are: (i) A synchronous motor runs at synchronous speed or not at all. Its speed is constant (synchronous speed) at all loads. The only way to change its speed is to alter the supply frequency (Ns = 120 f/P). (ii) The outstanding characteristic of a synchronous motor is that it can be made to operate over a wide range of power factors (lagging, unity or leading) by adjustment of its field excitation. Therefore, a synchronous motor can be made to carry the mechanical load at constant speed and at the same time improve the power factor of the system. (iii) Synchronous motors are generally of the salient pole type. (iv) A synchronous motor is not self-starting and an auxiliary means has to be used for starting it. We use either induction motor principle or a separate starting motor for this purpose. If the latter method is used, the machine must be run up to synchronous speed and synchronized as an alternator.

11.3 Operating Principle
The fact that a synchronous motor has no starting torque can be easily explained. (i) Consider a 3-phase synchronous motor having two rotor poles NR and SR. Then the stator will also be wound for two poles NS and SS. The motor has direct voltage applied to the rotor winding and a 3-phase voltage applied to the stator winding. The stator winding produces a rotating field which revolves round the stator at synchronous speed Ns(= 120 f/P). The direct (or zero frequency) current sets up a two-pole field which is stationary so long as the rotor is not turning. Thus, we have a situation in which there exists a pair of revolving armature poles (i.e., NS − SS) and a pair of stationary rotor poles (i.e., NR − SR). (ii) Suppose at any instant, the stator poles are at positions A and B as shown in Fig. (11.2 (i)). It is clear that poles NS and NR repel each other and so do the poles SS and SR. Therefore, the rotor tends to move in the anticlockwise direction. After a period of...
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