You are on page 1of 6


A. Tessarolo
Electrical, Electronics and Computer Engineering Dept., University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy,

Keywords: Multi-phase machines, Electric machine design.


The adoption of multi-phase stator topologies in electrical machine design brings well-known advantages in terms of power segmentation, reliability and performance. In addition to these functional benefits, which are independent of machine size, this paper highlights how the use of more than three phases can lead to construction advantages when applied to electric machines of large size. The advantages relate to the winding manufacturing technology, which can be retained similar to that of small machines in presence of a multi-phase solution, while a traditional three-phase one would imply a more costly Roebel bar construction. The point is justified in terms of machine sizing equations and is assessed referring to some built high-power multi-phase machines for industrial and ship propulsion use.

p D L n Ns Nt b q P N f V I At As number of pole pairs; inner stator core diameter; stator core length; number of stator phases; number of series-connected turns per phase; number of turns per coil; number of parallel paths per phase; number of slots per pole per phase; rated power; rated rotational speed (revolutions per minute); rated frequency; rated phase voltage; rated phase current; copper cross-section area of a turn; slot cross-section area; slot pitch; average flux density per pole; stator current density; stator electric loading; stator slot fill factor; stator winding factor; output coefficient; coil pitch to pole pitch ratio.

The benefits that can be obtained from splitting the stator winding of an electric machine into more than three phases have been largely investigated in the field of small and medium power applications [1], [2]: they mainly have a functional nature (concerning inverter power segmentation, redundancy and reliability improvement, torque ripple and efficiency enhancement, power density increase, etc.), whereas machine structure and construction technology substantially remain unchanged compared to conventional three-phase design. When it comes to very high-power electric machines (in the multi-MW range), however, adopting an n-phase stator configuration (with n>3) may have considerable structural or constructive impacts as well. In fact, this enables to retain a coil winding technology, which is the same as for small-sized machines, instead of resorting to the much more complicated and costly Roebel-bar constructions, which is typical or large turboalternators [3], [4]. Firstly, the point is discussed in this paper in general terms, by means of appropriate sizing equations which relate the number of phases to the design variables involved in the selection of the machine winding technology. Secondly, some industrial application examples will be reported referring to built high-power multi-phase machines.

Coil and Roebel bar windings


s s
kf kw C r

In small and medium size three-phase machines, the stator winding is composed of closed coils, each consisting of multiple series-connected turns (Figure 1), built with either round-section wire or flat conductors [5]. As the power rating increases (the voltage being constrained not to exceed a certain maximum value), the phase current necessarily grows too, which results in an increasingly high individual coil cross-section and low number of turns per coil. Above a certain power level, a design with a single turn per coil becomes eventually mandatory, which leads to move from coil winding to Roebel bar technology. A typical example of the latter can be found in large turboalternators [3]. Compared to coil windings, Roebel bar technology is much more costly and complicated, in general, especially due to strand transpositions and special manufacturing techniques required for end-bar connections.

Fig. 3. Phase arrangement schematic for a split-phase machine with N stator windings displaced by =60/N electrical degrees apart.

Fig. 1. Example of slot cross-section in a double-layer coil winding with three turns per coil (Nt=3).

When an n-phase stator configuration with n>3 is adopted instead of a traditional three-phase one, the power is split into n phases instead of three. Consequently, if the voltage is maintained the same, the phase current diminishes by approximately a factor n/3. This may enable the designer to retain a coil design for the stator winding avoiding the use of Roebel bars, with significant savings in cost and production times. The concept expressed above in quite qualitative terms will be reformulated quantitatively in the next Section investigating the relationship between the number of phases and the main design quantities involved in the choice of the winding construction technology.

three-phase sets. This results in a symmetrical n-phase configuration, where n is not necessarily required to be a multiple of three. This winding topology requires a nonconventional n-phase inverter (and control strategy) to be used for motor supply [2]. Application examples are also reported in the literature of high-power multi-phase machine windings with a hybrid winding composition, which results from combining splitphase and symmetrical schemes. This is the case of the 15phase 21 MW induction machine reported in [8], where three 5-phase symmetrical phase sets are employed, each supplied by a 5-phase inverter. Although characterized by a variety of possible phase arrangements, multi-phase windings can be treated in the same way from machine sizing viewpoint, under the only hypothesis that each pole span encompasses exactly as many phase belts as the phases are (n). This hypothesis is verified in the vast majority of multi-phase designs [2]; only those designs are not covered where successive phases are shifted by 360/n electrical degrees in space, as happens in symmetrical windings with an even number of phases [9], [10]. Calling n the number of stator phases (however arranged in space), the rated phase voltage is given by:
V = 1 / 2 p N s k w (2 f ) ,

Sizing equations for multi-phase machines

A multi-phase winding topology which is very commonly used in high-power electric machinery is the so-called splitphase configuration [6], [7]. As illustrated in Figure 2 and Figure 3, this results from splitting the winding into N threephase sets, displaced by 60/N electrical degrees apart. When the machine is used as a motor, a split-phase winding arrangement can be desirable as it allows for N three-phase conventional inverter modules to be used for its supply. As an alternative, the n stator phases can be distributed uniformly over each pole span instead of being grouped into


where p is the flux per pole, Ns the number of seriesconnected turns per phase Ns, kw the winding factor [5] and f the rated frequency. Quantities p, Ns and f can in turn be expressed as follows:

p = Bg L D /(2 p )

(2) (3) (4)

N s = q (2 p ) N t / b

f = N p / 60

in terms of: the average flux density Bg in the air-gap, the Fig. 2. Phase belt distribution over a pole-span in a double-layer useful core length L, the machine average diameter D at the shortened-pitch split-phase winding composed of N three-phase sets air-gap, the number of pole pairs p, the number of slots per pole per phase q (possibly fractional), the number of series(a, b, c).

connected turns per coil Nt, the number of parallel paths per phase b and the speed N in revolutions per minute. A further design figure, called the output coefficient C and defined as per [11], can be also introduced to describe the degree of utilization of the machine volume (roughly proportional to D2L) in terms of useful machine torque (proportional to P/N, where P is the rated active power):
C = P /( N D 2 L )

regarded as a constant to a good approximation, as confirmed by the application examples reported in the following Section. Hence Equation (12) expresses the explicit relationship between the following design quantities:
machine power (P) and voltage (V) ratings; winding structure in terms of slot cross-section area (As), number of turns per coil (Nt), number of phases (n) and number of parallel ways per phase (b).


Substitution of Equations (2)-(5) into (1) yields:

V= 2 2 ( 2 p ) P Bm k w q N t . 120 N pp D C


We can now consider the slot pitch expression:

Equation (12) shows that if the power rating P increases while the voltage V below a certain level, this naturally leads to decrease the number of turns per coil Nt, which may result in the need for Roebel bars (Nt=1) above a given power level. Equation (12) also demonstrates that there are three design levers available to counteract the decrease of Nt, namely:
increasing the slot cross-section area As; increasing of the number b of parallel ways per phase; the increase of the number of phases n.

D s = , q n (2 p ) and introduce it into (6) obtaining:

V= 3 2 (2 p ) q n P Bm k w N t 3 2 P Bm k w N t . = 120 D N pp C n 120 N pp C n s



The slot pitch can be alternatively expressed as

The first strategy is of limited help, since it generally implies a growth of the overall machine size: in fact the slot opening Ws (Figure 1) needs to be lower than the tooth width at the air-gap to contain slot harmonics [5] and the increase of Hs brings to a growth of the stator outer diameter so as to keep the yoke flux density within acceptable limits. The second strategy can be actually pursued until the number of parallel ways b equals 2p since the number of parallel ways cannot exceed the number of machine poles in any case [5]. Hence, it is easily understood that, after the limit b=2p has been reached, the only way left to avoid the use of Roebel bar construction without incrementing the machine size consists of increasing the number of its stator phases n.

s =

2 N t At s


in terms of the current density s flowing though stator conductors, the copper cross section area of a turn At and the stator electric loading s [12]. In fact, the following definitions apply for s and s:

s =

I / b 2 N t (I / b ) = At As k f
2 Nt I / b


Industrial application examples

s =


where I is the phase current, As and kf are the cross-section area and the fill factor of a stator slot. Substitution of (9) into Equation (8), after elementary algebraic manipulation, finally yields:
C s k f As P = k B k N b n V m s w t 142 43

In this Section some built and tested high-power multiphase electrical machines will be considered to illustrate how the choice of a number of phases higher than three practically helped retain a coil winding technology while a three-phase design would have implied the use of Roebel bars.
4.1 Ratings and general considerations

The ratings of the machines taken into account are provided in Table 1.
Rated voltage per phase ( 3V )
Rated overall power(P) Rated speed (N) Number of phases (n) Number of poles (2p) Number of turns per coil (Nt) Number of parallel ways per phase (b) 4400 V


7200 V

1200 V

11200 kW 45000 kW 2150 kVA 4500 rpm 3000 rpm 6300 rpm 6 2 3 2 12 4 3 2 6 4 5 4

where k is a non-dimensional constant whose value only depends on the units used to express the other quantities. Coefficient in brackets (R) does not depend on the winding structure, but only on the magnetic, thermal and electrical loading of the machine; therefore, for machines of homogeneous design in terms of thermal class, insulation technology, cooling system effectiveness, etc., R can be

Table 1. Ratings of three machines taken as examples.

Figure 5. Actual system configurations for machines A, B, C (left column); possible alternative arrangements with a three-phase design for the electric machine (right column)

Figure 4. Machine B during installation for full-load testing.

Relationships between winding technology and number of phases

Machines A and B (Figure 4) are high-speed inverter-fed motors used in turbo-compressor applications. In particular, machine A is a dual three-phase (split-phase) synchronous motor fed by two Load-Commutated inverters (Figure 5, A.1), while machine B is a 12-phase synchronous motor equipped with four three phase windings, shifted by 15 electrical degrees apart and supplied by four Voltage-Source PWM inverters (Figure 5, B.1). Machine C is a high-speed naval generator which feeds two diode rectifier bridges (one per stator section) connected to a DC on-board power grid. The three machines are all required to operate within thermal class B and are designed with homogeneous thermal, electrical and magnetic loading values. With regard to the sizing Equation (12) derived in the previous Section, coefficients R are computed using the design quantities of the three machines and their values are reported in Table 2.
A 0.53 B 0.45 C 0.52

In all the three machines considered, a relatively high power rating (or, more significantly, a high power to speed ratio, which governs machine overall size [12]) is required under a maximum voltage design constraint. Voltage constraints are in fact dictated by the maximum inverter output voltage in cases A and B and by the DC grid rated voltage in case C. As a consequence of the high P/V ratios, and for a given slot size As, a low number of turns per coil Nt may result according to Equation (12), possibly leading to a Roebel bar design (Nt=1) if the number of phases n is kept at its minimum value (3). Conversely, raising the number of phases enables to keep the number of turns per coil higher than one (Table 1) and allows for a coil winding construction to be used in all the three cases, with significant savings in terms of manufacturing cost, lead times and tooling. The relationship between the winding construction technology and the number of phases can be better highlighted by considering some possible design alternatives for the systems under consideration. Such alternatives are illustrated in the left-hand column of Figure 5 for comparison with the actual design configurations, represented in the lefthand side column.
Case of machine A If machine A were designed according to a three-phase scheme (Figure 5, A.2) without changing power and voltage ratings, Equation (12) would apply with: P / V= 11200 kW / 4400 V as in the actual design; n=3 (while n=6 in the actual design); b=2, since the b cannot exceed the number of poles (2).

Coefficients R

Table 2. Values of coefficient R (WV1mm2) computed from design quantities for machines A, B, C (Table 1).

It can be seen that, despite of the difference in machine size, number of phases and ratings (Table 1), the values of R are relatively close. This confirms that R, at least for preliminary sizing purposes, can be actually regarded as a design constant depending on thermal, magnetic and electrical loading only.

As a consequence, without further increasing the slot crosssection area As, the number of turns per coil Nt=3 should be theoretically halved according to Equation (12), leading to a design with 2 or 1 turns per coil. A coil winding design with Nt=2 would not be recommended due to the large height-towidth turn ratio (which may cause circulation current issues in the parallel conductors forming a turn, Figure 1); hence a stator design with Roebel bars would be likely required.
Case of machine B If machine B were conceived as a single three-phase one under the same power and voltage requirements (Figure 5, B.2), for instance according to the design reported in [14], Equation (12) would apply with: P / V= 45000 kW / 7200 V as in the actual design; n=3, while n=12 in the actual design; b=4, while b=2 in the actual design (b can be raised up to the number of poles).

Application examples are finally reported referring to three built high-power multi-phase machines to practically illustrate how the use of a multi-phase solution enables to adopt a coil winding construction instead of resorting to Roebel bar technology.

The paper has been written thanks to the kind cooperation of Ansaldo Sistemi Industriali Motors, Generators and Drives Business Unit Monfalcone, Italy. In particular, the author wishes to thank Gianfranco Zocco (R&D Department Head) and Antonio Odorico (senior design engineer) for their valuable advice and support.

[1] E. Levi, R. Bojoi, F. Profumo, H. A. Tolyat, S. Williamson, Multiphase induction motor drives a technology status review, Electric Power Applications, IET, vol. 1, Jul. 2007, pp. 489-516. [2] S. Williamson, S. Smith, Pulsating torque and losses in multiphase induction machines, IEEE Trans. on Industry Applications, vol. 39, July/Aug. 2003, pp. 986993. [3] J. Haldemann, Transpositions in stator bars of large turboalernators, IEEE Trans. on Energy Conversion, vol. 19, Sept. 2004, pp. 553-560. [4] R.V. Musil, W.Schmatloch, Dimensioning and design of high-power variable speed synchronous motors, Energy and Automation X (1988), Special Large Electric Motor A.C. Variable Speed Drives, pp. 32-41. [5] A. Still, C.S. Siskind, Elements of Electrical Machine Design, McGraw-Hill, 1954. [6] J. J. Simond, A. Sapin, M. T. Xuan, R. Wetter, P. Burmeister, 12-pulse LCI synchronous drive for a 20 MW compressor modeling simulation and measurements, Industry Application Society Annual Meeting, IAS 2005, pp. 2302-2308. [7] H. E. Jordan, R. C. Zowarka, S. B. Pratap, Nine-phase armature windings design, test and harmonic analysis, IEEE Trans. on Magnetics, vol. 41, issue 1, part 2, Jan. 2005, pp. 299-302. [8] F. Terrein, S. Siala, P. Noy, Multiphase induction motor sensorless control for electric ship propulsion, IEE Power Electronics, Machines and Drives Conference, PEMD 2004, pp. 556-561. [9] E. A. Klingshirn, High phase order induction motors, Part I, IEEE Trans. on Power Apparatus and Systems, Vol. PAS-102, no. 1, Jan. 1883, pp. 47-53. [10] E. A. Klingshirn, High phase order induction motors, Part II, IEEE Trans. on Power Apparatus and Systems, Vol. PAS-102, no. 1, Jan. 1883, pp. 54-59. [11] M. Yamamoto, Y. Takeda, T. Oishi, Output coefficient of synchronous motors, IEEE Trans. on Power Apparatus and Systems, vol. PAS-104, July 85, pp. 1849-1855.

As a consequence, without a significant increase in the slot cross- section area As, the number of turns per coil (Nt, equal to 3 in the actual design) should be reduced by a factor 2, again leading to the need for a Roebel bar construction.
Case of machine C If machine C were conceived as a single three one with the same power and voltage requirements (Figure 5, C.2), Equation (12) would apply with: P / V= 2150 kW / 1200 V as in the actual design; n=3, while n=6 in the actual design; b=4 as in the actual design (b cannot exceed the number of poles).

According to (12) the number of turns per coil Nt (equal to 5 in the actual design) should be nearly halved. In this case, the machine design could be probably adjusted so as to select Nt=3. Otherwise, the alternative would be to set b=2 and Nt=1, again yielding a Roebel bar construction.


The use of stator windings composed of more than three phases for AC electrical machines brings well known advantages in terms of performance, reliability and power segmentation. This paper discusses how the adoption of multi-phase topologies in the design of high-power electric machines can be remarkably advantageous not only for the mentioned functional enhancements, but also in terms of machine construction technology. In fact, increasing the number of phases in machines of large size helps retain a coil winding design in many cases where a traditional three-phase solution would require a Roebel bar technology, instead. The benefits of using coil windings instead of Roebel bars are significant in terms of costs and manufacturing process simplification. Sizing equations are derived in the paper which establish a quantitative relationship between the number of phases and the main design variables involved in the choice between coil and Roebel winding types.

[12] S. Huang, J. Luo, F. Leonardi, T. A. Lipo, A general approach to sizing and power density equations for comparison of electrical machines, IEEE Trans. on Industry Applications, vol. 34, Jan./Feb. 98, pp. 92-97. [13] G. Sulligoi, A. Tessarolo, V. Benucci, M. Baret, A. Rebora, A. Taffone, Modeling, simulation and experimental validation of a generation system for

medium-voltage DC integrated power systems, IEEE Trans. on Industry Applications, in press. [14] S. Schroeder, P. Tenca, T. Geyer, P. Soldi, L. Garces, R. Zhang, T. Toma, P. Bordignon, Modular high-power shunt-interleaved drive system: a realization up to 35 MW for oil and gas applications, IEEE IAS Annual Meeting, 2008.