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Paper accepted for presentation at 2003 IEEE Bologna Power Tech Conference, June 23th-26th, Bologna, Italy

Simulation by MATLAB/Simulink of active

filters for reducing THD created by
industrial systems
I. Zamora, A. J. Mazon. P. Eguia, I. Albizu, K. J. Sagastabeitia, E. Fernández

regulated levels. Among the possible corrective actions active

Abstract—Nowadays, power electronics are widely used in filters are one of the most effective.
industry for supplying loads with an amplitude and frequency Before taking any corrective action, it is necessary to
controlled voltage. These systems comprises mainly rectifiers and evaluate the distortion introduced by the installation into the
inverters which, as non-linear loads, produce currents with high distribution network and the expected reduction when the
harmonic content. In order to fulfil the legislation concerning active filter is in use. In this stage, simulation has been proved
voltage harmonic distortion it is necessary to put in place
to be a useful tool. It allows to quantify the harmonic
corrective actions. Among these corrective actions active filters
are one of the most effective. For the design of these filters distortion created by a system and, when a corrective action is
simulation has been proved to be a very useful tool. In this paper, introduced, simulation will show the reduction in the
the simulation by MATLAB/Simulink of an active filter for the distortion. Besides, simulation can be used as a tool for the
reduction of the harmonic distortion is analysed. Two examples design of the active filter.
are presented: a steel plant and an underground traction system. The work presented in this paper is based on the simulation
of active filters for reducing harmonic distortion created by
Index Terms— Active filter, computer simulation, induction industrial loads. Simulations have been carried out under the
furnace, steel plant, metro traction system, THD. MATLAB/Simulink environment and two examples of
industrial harmonic polluting loads are presented: a steel plant
I. INTRODUCTION and an underground traction system.

T he main requirement of any electric power system is the

supply of electricity with a determined power quality and
reliability to the minimum possible cost. Due to the increased
In order to perform the harmonic analysis of the voltage
and current signals present in the industrial systems, a
Simulink block has been developed. This block calls an M-file
quality of life, it has taken place a spectacular increase of the that makes the required calculations and shows graphically the
number and installed power of non-linear loads, especially of harmonic spectrum of the analysed signal (Fig. 1). The 1st
electronic devices used mainly in the control of systems and harmonic is out of scale so that the rest of the harmonics can
power hardware. be visualized properly. The calculated values correspond to
Depending on the nature of these loads, the distortion peak values.
created can be very high and affect the voltage supplied by the
distribution network. In this case, it is highly possible that
other loads served from the same network will be affected.
For regulating this situation a complete legislation exists at
national and supranational levels concerning voltage harmonic
distortion. To comply with legislation, corrective actions have
to be taken to reduce harmonic distortion to established

I. Zamora is with Department of Electrical Engineering-ESI of Bilbao,

University of the Basque Country, Spain (e-mail:
A. J. Mazón is with Department of Electrical Engineering-ESI of Bilbao,
University of the Basque Country, Spain (e-mail:
P. Eguia is with Department of Electrical Engineering-ESI of Bilbao,
University of the Basque Country, Spain (e-mail:
I. Albizu is with Department of Electrical Engineering-ESI of Bilbao,
University of the Basque Country, Spain (e-mail:
J.K. Sagastabeitia is with Dep. of Electrical Engineering-EUITI of Bilbao,
University of the Basque Country, Spain (e-mail:
E. Fernández is with Department of Electrical Engineering-ESI of Bilbao,
Fig. 1. Harmonic analyser result
University of the Basque Country, Spain (e-mail:

0-7803-7967-5/03/$17.00 ©2003 IEEE

A real time harmonic analyser, that shows the peak values in the performance of the passive filter. In order to overcome
of the first twenty harmonic components as the circuit is being these problems active power filters have been developed.
simulated, has been developed too. This block has been Active power filters were first proposed for harmonic
developed using Simulink blocks. The results format is shown compensation in the early 1970's, but they could not be used in
in Fig. 2. real power systems because high-power high-speed switching
devices were unavailable. Since then, and because of the high
development of power electronics technology, much research
has been done on active filters and their practical applications.
Currently, a great number of these devices has been
installed, for different purposes as: harmonic compensation of
non-linear loads, harmonics isolation between utilities and
customers, harmonic damping throughout power distribution
systems, reactive power/negative-sequence, flicker
compensation, etc.
The operation of an active filter is based on a continuous
monitoring and conditioning of the distorted current created
by the non-linear load. The same harmonic currents, but with a
180º phase shift are generated by the filter, so that harmonic
components are cancelled and only fundamental component
flows from the point of common coupling of the load.
The filter used in the simulations is based on an inverter
connected in parallel with the load. The inverter has a voltage
Fig. 2. Real time spectrum analyser source configuration and its control is based on the p-q control
theory [1-2].
II. ACTIVE FILTER The SIMULINK model for the active filter can be seen in
Passive filters consisting of tuned LC filters have Fig. 3. In these figure, the filter is connected to the low voltage
traditionally been used to improve power factor and to absorb winding of a power transformer.
harmonics in power systems because of their simplicity, low
cost and high efficiency. However, these devices may fall in
series and parallel resonance with the source impedance.
Besides, the source impedance may vary, and influence

Fig. 3. Active filter model

The traction system is supplied by a source with 1230
III. CASES STUDIES MVA of short-circuit power and feeds a linear and another
non-linear load.
A. Underground Traction System The linear load has been considered as a pure resistance
The main components of the traction substation and represents the station and auxiliary services. For
modelled are the following ones: modelling considerations, the two underground station
- Four rectifier groups with 3R+1 configuration. That service transformers and their load have been grouped into
is to say, three rectifiers are connected at the same a single constant load of 5.000 kVA supplied at 30 kV and
time and one is always in reserve. Each rectifier the auxiliary services transformer and its load as a constant
group is composed of a 30/1,295 kV transformer load of 1.000 kVA supplied at 30 kV.
(TGR) with 2.250 kVA rated power and a three- The non-linear load is shown in Fig. 4. It includes three
phase rectifier. The rectifiers convert the voltage at traction groups that feed two meter units. The rated power
the output winding of the transformers group into of the non-linear load is 6 MW and it is adjustable through
DC voltage of 1750 V when they work without load the convoys torque. In the simulation, the torque
and into 1650 V when they work with 2000 kW measurements are real.
rated power. To evaluate the rate of the total harmonic distortion in the
- Two 30/13,8 kV power transformers with 2.500 substation, two measurement points have been located. The
kVA rated power each one, for station services. "point 1" is located in the connection with the distribution
- One 30/0,4 kV transformer with 1.000 kVA rated system of the electrical utility and the "point 2" is located in
power, for auxiliary services. the feeding to the non-linear load (traction unit). In Fig. 5,
Each metro traction unit or convoy has a traction power the whole system, including the active filter, can be seen.
of 2.880 kW and nominal voltage of 1.500 Vdc and consists As the frequency of underground trains varies along the
of four motor wagons. Each wagon leans over two bogies day and so, the number of convoys that at the same time are
with two motors each, this is, each convoy has 16 induction supplied by the same substation, the simulation have been
motors of 180 kW supplied by a PWM inverter connected carried out at three different traction load levels
directly to DC line voltage. (developing a 100%, 50% and 10% of the nominal torque)
to study the variations produced in THD along the day.

Fig. 4. Traction system model

Fig. 5. Complete substation and traction system model

As example, we show the results of the case that both If the harmonic analysis is performed including the
convoys are working in steady-state and developing a 100% active filter, the results change as can be seen in Fig. 7. The
of the nominal torque each one. Besides, in the “point 1” of THD of the current is reduced from 4.85% to 0.10% and
measurement (connection with the distribution system) the the voltage THD from 0.43% to 0.31%. The values of the
graphs of voltage harmonic spectrum are shown, while in highest harmonics have been reduced considerably. But
the “point 2” (feeding to the no-linear load) the graphs of some new components of low value (harmonics due to the
current harmonic spectrum are shown. injection of the filter) can be observed.
The results obtained in the harmonic distortion analysis
of voltage at the connection “point 1” without the active
filter are shown in Fig. 6. The THD value corresponding to
the current is 4.85% while the voltage THD is 0.43 %.
It can be seen that the harmonic voltage, generated by
the substation, hardly have weight. This is due to the non-
linear load consumption which is about 6 MVA in front of
the 1234 MVA short circuit power of the source.
The highest harmonics are the 5th (250 Hz) and the 7th
(350 Hz) and they are repeated at the 11th (550 Hz) and the
13th (650 Hz). These harmonics are characteristic of non-
linear loads that include three-phase rectifiers of six pulses.

Fig. 7. Voltage harmonic spectrum in the point 1,

with filter

For the “point 2” of measurement, the results obtained

in the harmonic distortion analysis of current without the
active filter are shown in Fig. 8. It is observed a higher
deformation of the waves than in the case measured in the
point 1. This distortion is due to the characteristic
consumption of the non-linear load that contains electronic
power devices. The THD value corresponding to the current
is 9.16% while the voltage THD is 0.31%.
Fig. 6. Voltage harmonic spectrum in the point 1, without filter
- The harmonics are decreased almost completely and
the highest value becomes the 11th and 13th order,
instead of the 5th and 7th order in the case without
filtering. Even harmonics are also observed
(included the 0 order harmonic which is the DC
component). These harmonics are introduced by the
active filter, but they take worthless and highly
variable values.
B. Steel Plant
The steel plant substation considered is fed alternatively
from two 30 kV lines switched by means of a disconnector.
Fig. 8. Current harmonic spectrum in the point 2,
The electric load of the plant is composed of six induction
without filter furnaces, temper furnaces and general services.
There are two different types of induction furnaces. Four
If the harmonic analysis is performed including the furnaces are of type 1 and the other two of type 2.
active filter (Fig. 9), the THD of the current is reduced from Each furnace of type 1 is fed from a 4 MVA three-
9.16% to 0.35% and the voltage THD from 0.43% to winding transformer which reduces the voltage from 30 kV
0.31%. to 770 V. The secondary winding feeds a six pulse rectifier
and the tertiary feeds another identical rectifier. The
rectification has a 12-pulse configuration. Both rectifiers
are connected in parallel including filtering coils that
improve the direct current obtained. A capacitor bank is
connected in parallel with the induction furnace coil to
achieve a controllable resonance of the coil. The voltage in
the coils that melt the steel is 2200 V with a frequency of
500 Hz and an approximate consumption of 3300 kW.
Each furnace of type 2 is fed from a 5 MVA three-
winding transformer. The voltage is reduced to 945 V.
Similarly to the type 1 furnace configuration, the secondary
winding feeds a six pulse rectifier and the tertiary feeds
another identical rectifier. The rectification has a 12-pulse
Fig. 9. Current harmonic spectrum in the point 2, configuration. Both rectifiers are connected in series
with filter including filtering coils. A capacitor bank is connected in
parallel with the induction furnace coil. The approximate
From the whole simulated cases results without and with
consumption of the coil is 4 MW.
the active filter, it can make a comparative analysis:
The rectifiers used to get the DC voltage are the cause of
- The THDI decreases more than 86% in anyone of
the injection of current harmonics in the system and
the three cases, which implies a high effectiveness of
consequently the cause of the voltage distortion. The
the active filter (TABLE I and TABLE II).
characteristic harmonics injected by a 12-pulse rectifier are
TABLE I. – Results for measurement point 1 (substation harmonics of order 11th and 13th.
interconnection) The distribution transformers of the general services and
Current Reduction of the temper furnaces consume 1800 kW with a cosφ of 0,85.
Traction load distortion with current For simulation purposes they have been modelled as a
level active filter distortion
(THDI %) linear load of these characteristics. This is acceptable as
(THDI %) (%)
100 % 4,85 0,09 98,14
their consumption is only a little portion of the total power
50 % 4,07 0,09 97,79 consumed in the plant and they do not produce any
10 % 1,72 0,08 95,35 distortion. All these elements have been modelled using
existing SIMULINK blocks contained in the
TABLE II. – Results for measurement point 2 (traction load) SymPowerSystems blockset.
Current Reduction of As there is no induction furnace electrical model, new
Current blocks have been created for the two types of induction
Traction load distortion with current
(THDI %)
active filter distortion furnaces (Fig. 10 and 11).
(THDI %) (%)
100 % 9,16 0,35 96,18
50 % 11,51 0,63 94,53
10 % 15,08 2,01 86,67
Fig. 10. Type 1 induction furnace model

Fig. 11. Type 2 induction furnace model

The simulation model of the steel plant including the the voltage harmonic distortion created by the steel plant
active filter inserted in parallel with the furnaces can be has been measured. Secondly, after the active filter has been
seen in Fig. 12. added, the distortion has been measured again.
The steel plant has been simulated considering different
levels of load (one, three and six furnaces working). Firstly,
Fig. 12. Steel plant model including the active filter

As example, we show the results obtained with the six

furnaces working. This is the most common working
situation of the steel plant in order to get the maximum
profitability. This is the worst case from the point of view
of the harmonic distortion and the active filter should be
able to correct it properly.
We can see that the current THD value is 7.41% while
the voltage THD is 6.38%. The voltage distortion is too
high as it is above the limit imposed by the regulations (5%
for 30 kV). The highest harmonics are the 11th and the
13th. The 9th harmonic also increases its value from the
previous cases.
The results obtained in the harmonic distortion analysis
are shown in Fig. 13 and 14.

Fig. 14. Current harmonics (6 furnaces)

The results obtained including the active filter are

shown in Fig. 15 and 16.

Fig. 13. Voltage (6 furnaces)

Fig. 15. Voltage harmonics (6 furnaces + active filter)

The use of simulation tools as MATLAB/ Simulink,
allows to reproduce the behaviour of the power systems in
different situations, analyse how the system answers in
these situations and choose the solution that better fit with
the particular problem without additional costs. Besides,
active filters with different rated values can be simulated in
order to analyse different reductions of the harmonic
By means of the simulation carried out, the voltage and
current harmonic distortions created by an underground
traction system and a steel plant have been obtained.
Moreover, the reduction of the distortion by an active filter
has been simulated for both systems.
Fig. 16. Current harmonics (6 furnaces + active filter)
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