INDUCTION GENERATORS - GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS BASIC AND TUTORIALS


An induction or asynchronous generator is one that operates without an independent source for its rotor field current, but in which the rotor field current appears by electromagnetic induction from the field of the armature current.

 The rotor field then interacts with the stator field to transmit mechanical torque just as it does in a synchronous generator, regardless of the fact that it was the stator field that created it (the rotor field) in the first place.

This may seem reminiscent of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps, but it does actually work. The catch is that some armature current must be provided externally; thus, an induction generator cannot be started up without being connected to a live a.c. system. Another practical concern is that, as we show later in this chapter, induction generators can only operate at leading power factors. For both reasons, their use is quite limited.

Their one important application in power systems is in association with wind turbines. In this case, induction generators offer an advantage because they can readily absorb the erratic fluctuations of mechanical power delivered by the wind resource.

They also cost less than synchronous machines, especially in the size range up to one megawatt. In terms of mechanical operation, the most important characteristic of the induction generator is that the rate of rotation is not fixed, as in the case of the synchronous generator, but varies depending on the torque or power delivered.

The reference point is called the synchronous speed, which is the speed of rotation of the armature magnetic field (corresponding to the a.c. frequency) and also the speed at which a synchronous rotor would spin. The more power is being generated, the faster the induction rotor spins in relation to the synchronous speed; the difference is called the slip speed and typically amounts to several percent.

The rotor may also spin more slowly than the armature speed, but in this case, the machine is generating negative power: it is operating as a motor! While induction machines are usually optimized and marketed for only one purpose, either generating or motoring, they are all in principle reversible. (The same is true for synchronous machines, though their design tends to be even more specialized.)

Figure below shows a curve of torque versus slip speed for a generic induction machine. Zero slip corresponds to synchronous speed, and at this point, the machine delivers no power at all: neglecting friction, it spins freely in equilibrium.


This is called a no-load condition. If a forward torque is exerted on the rotor in this equilibrium state (say, by a connected turbine), it accelerates beyond synchronous speed and generates electric power by boosting the terminal voltage. If the rotor is instead restrained (by a mechanical load), it slows down below synchronous speed and the machine is operating as a motor.

Now we call the torque on the rotor negative, and it acts to push whatever is restraining it with power derived from the armature current and voltage.

The synchronous speed of a given induction machine may be equal to the a.c. frequency (3600 rpm for 60 Hz; 3000 rpm for 50 Hz) or some even fraction thereof (such as 900 or 1800 rpm), depending on the number of magnetic poles, which in this case are created by the armature conductor windings instead of the rotor.

Note that unlike the synchronous generator, where the stator magnetic field has two poles but the rotor field may have any even number of poles, an induction generator must have the same number of poles in the rotor and stator field (because there is no independent excitation).

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