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Performance of a Three-Phase AC Generator With Inset NdFeB Permanent-Magnet Rotor

T. F. Chan, Member, IEEE, L. L. Lai, Senior Member, IEEE, and Lie-Tong Yan
AbstractThis paper presents the analysis and performance of a three-phase ac generator with an inset, neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB) permanent-magnet (PM) rotor. Such a rotor construction gives rise to an inverse saliency effect (i.e., the direct-axis synchronous reactance is less than the quadrature-axis synchronous reactance). This feature results in an improvement in the voltage regulation characteristics when the generator supplies an isolated, unity-power-factor load. By solving the equations derived from the two-axis theory, it is found that there exists, in general, two values of load current at which zero voltage regulation is obtained. The relationship between armature resistance, inverse saliency ratio, and the operating speed to give zero voltage regulation is investigated. The finite-element method (FEM) is used for computing the pertinent generator parameters for performance evaluation, namely the no-load voltage and the synchronous reactances. Flux plots are presented to confirm the origin of inverse saliency in the inset PM rotor. The theoretical analysis is validated by experiments carried out on a 2.5-kVA prototype generator. Index TermsFinite-element method, inverse saliency, permanent-magnet generators, voltage regulation.



Fig. 1. Phasor diagram of PM ac generator when supplying a unity-power-factor load: (a) Surface-magnet rotor type. (b) Generator with inverse saliency.


VAILABILITY and decreasing cost of high-energy permanent-magnet (PM) materials, in particular, neodymium-iron-boron (NdFeB), have resulted in rapid development of permanent-magnet machines in the past two decades. Examples are PM brushless dc motors, hybrid motors, and PM synchronous motors [1]. These machines are built from small to medium sizes and have the advantages of light weight, small size, simple mechanical construction, easy maintenance, good reliability, absence of moving contacts, and high efficiency. Recently, research results on PM ac generators have also been reported [2][8], main applications being in portable or emergency power supplies, power generation using renewable energy resources, and electric vehicles. A disadvantage of a PM generator is that the excitation cannot be altered, and hence, the voltage regulation varies with load. A generator that possesses an inherent voltage compensation capability is thus desirable for maintaining a constant voltage. In this paper, it is demonstrated that the inverse saliency feature of an ac generator with an inset PM rotor can be exploited
Manuscript received October 24, 2002. This work was supported by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University under Research Grant 353/067. T. F. Chan is with the Department of Electrical Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China (e-mail: L. L. Lai is with the Energy Systems Group, School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, City University, London EC1V 0HB, U.K. (e-mail: L-T. Yan is with the Department of Electrical Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China. Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/TEC.2003.821861

for improving the voltage regulation. Performance of the generator is computed based on the two-axis theory, and the conditions for achieving zero voltage regulation are deduced for the case of unity-power-factor loads which are commonly encountered for stand-alone power systems. The open-circuit voltage, direct-axis synchronous reactance and quadrature-axis synchronous reactance required in the analysis are accurately determined from the finite-element method (FEM). Computed and experimental performance of a small prototype PM generator will be presented to validate the theoretical analysis. II. PRINCIPLE AND ROTOR CONSTRUCTION In an ac generator with a surface-magnet rotor, the diand the quadrature-axis rect-axis synchronous reactance synchronous reactance are approximately equal. Fig. 1(a) shows the phasor diagram for unity-power-factor operation of is the an ac generator with a surface-magnet rotor, where open-circuit voltage, is the terminal voltage, is the armature current, is the armature resistance, and is the synchronous reactance. It is obvious that is less than when the generator is on load. Fig. 1(b) shows the phasor diagram of an ac generator that exhibits inverse saliency (i.e., is larger than ). It should be noted a machine in which and quadrature-axis current , that the direct-axis current and hence, the direct-axis synchronous reactance drop and quadrature-axis synchronous reactance drop , depend upon the load impedance. In general, a larger drop to fall further behind causes the terminal voltage phasor the open-circuit voltage phasor . Under certain favorable conditions, the magnitude of may be equal to, or even greater

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is the load resistance and is the load angle (i.e., where angle between phasors and ). Solving (1)(4), the terminal voltage is given by (5) From (5), the load resistance ) is lation occurs (i.e., at which zero voltage regu-

(6) inverse saliency ratio . where Equation (6) indicates that when the inverse saliency ratio exceeds 2, there exists a value of load resistance that gives zero voltage regulation. It can also be shown that the load angle at which zero voltage regulation occurs is given by
Fig. 2. Cross section of ac generator with inset PM rotor.

than the magnitude of . With a suitable ratio of to , it is possible to achieve zero voltage regulation at a particular load. Inverse saliency is exhibited by a generator with an interior-type PM rotor [1], [4], or an inset PM rotor [9]. The latter construction is easier to fabricate and is the subject of the present investigation. Fig. 2 shows the cross-sectional view of an ac generator with an inset PM rotor. The permanent magnets are surface-mounted on the rotor, but the interpolar space is occupied by soft-iron pole pieces. Since the relative permeability of NdFeB permanent magnets is close to that of air, the quadrature-axis has a smaller effective air gap than is larger than . The desired the direct-axis, and hence, ratio can be obtained by an appropriate choice of the air-gap length, the pole arcs of the permanent magnets, and the widths of the interpolar soft-iron pole pieces. III. OPERATION WITH ZERO VOLTAGE REGULATION The voltage-current characteristics of a PM generator can be computed using the phasor diagram derived from the two-axis model and the analysis is detailed anywhere in the literature [4], [5]. From a practical point of view, however, it is of interest to investigate the conditions at which the generator terminal voltage on load is equal to the open-circuit voltage (i.e., the generator operates with zero voltage regulation). Two cases will be considered: analysis with armature resistance neglected and analysis with armature resistance taken into consideration. A. Armature Resistance Neglected The armature resistance may be neglected when the machine rating is large. Referring to Fig. 1(b), the following equations can be written: (1) (2) (3) (4)


B. Armature Resistance Considered When the armature resistance cannot be neglected, a similar analysis can be carried out with reference to Fig. 1(b). It can be shown that the load angle is given by (8) while the terminal voltage and the open-circuit voltage related by the following equation: are

(9) The load angle at which zero voltage regulation occurs is now given by (10) Equation (10) may be solved numerically to give the load angle . This approach, however, requires suitable initial estimates of to be selected in order to start the numerical procedure. is introduced, (10) can be If the parameter expanded to give the following cubic equation: (11) Standard closed forms of solution for (11) are available, but it should be noted that only positive real values of give feasible operating points. After (and hence ) is known, the load current at which zero voltage regulation occurs can be determined from (8). As an example, consider a PM generator with the following , , parameters at rated speed [4]: , and . The solution of (10) with these numerical values substituted yields the following positive real



Fig. 3. Graphical solution of (10) for determining the load angle  .

Fig. 5. Inverse saliency ratio r to give zero voltage regulation in PM generator at different speeds.

IV. DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS For the electrical machine designer, it is of interest to determine, for a given speed, armature resistance and direct-axis synchronous reactance , the value of quadrature-axis syn(or ) such that zero voltage regulation chronous reactance occurs at a specific armature current. To simplify the derivation, (9) is rewritten in per-unit form, the no-load voltage being taken as unity. Thus, with p.u., the following equation is obtained: (12) where is the per-unit armature current and From (12), the inverse saliency ratio is given by
Fig. 4. Effect of armature resistance R on the load characteristics of PM generator with E = 51:7 V, X = 14
, X = 55

(13) . where Fig. 5 shows the variation of with speed to yield zero voltage regulation at rated current for a PM generator with and (at the nominal frequency of 50 Hz). It is apparent that for low-speed operation, the generator has to be designed with a large inverse saliency ratio in order to achieve zero voltage regulation. For a PM generator with negligible armature resistance, (13) is reduced to the following: (14) is independent of speed, the Since the per-unit value of value of to give zero voltage regulation is the same for all speeds. It is also of interest to study the effect of speed on the armature resistance to yield zero voltage regulation. Solving (12) for , one obtains

roots: and . For root , the load angle and 0.268 A, respectively. For and armature current are root , the corresponding values are and 1.9 A, respectively. There are thus two different loads at which zero voltage regulation is obtained. In practice, however, operation with the larger load would give more output power and a higher efficiency. The solutions of (10) can also be determined graphically by the points of intersection between the functions and , where and , as illustrated in Fig. 3 for the PM generator in [4]. When , and intersect at two points. It is apparent that the function is displaced upward with an increase in , causing the separation between the intersection points to decrease. When , is larger than for all values of . There is no point of intersection, and hence, zero voltage regulation cannot be achieved. At some critical value of , the two roots are equal, implying that zero voltage regulation is obtained at only one value of load current. For the given machine, the critical value of was found to be 6.34 using a simple search method. Fig. 4 shows the external characteristics of the generator for different values of .




The per-unit resistance is given by (16) But (17) is the ohmic value of the armature resistance, is the base impedance at nominal frequency, and is the ratio of actual speed to the base speed. The ohmic value of the armature resistance is thus where (18) Equation (18) implies that, for zero voltage regulation at a specific current, a larger armature resistance can be tolerated when the generator operates at a higher speed. V. COMPUTATION OF SYNCHRONOUS REACTANCES and , a two-dimensional To determine the values of (2-D) FEM (2-D FEM) is used. For computing the magnetic field distribution, eight-node, quadrilateral elements are used in the mesh formation and FEM computations in order to reduce the number of elements required, while maintaining a high computational accuracy. The rotor permanent magnet is modeled by an equivalent current density . Magnetic vector potential is taken as the variable in the FEM formulation [10], [11]. , the To compute the direct-axis synchronous reactance is equated to zero. surface current density of the magnet The rotor direct-axis is aligned with the magnetomotive force (mmf) axis of the armature winding in which a specified balanced three-phase current is assumed to flow. The magnetic vector potential of the machine is then computed, from which the flux linkage in each coil can be determined. The total flux linkage in the armature winding is then evaluated to yield the is computed as total induced electromotive force (emf), and the ratio of the induced emf to the armature current, plus the leakage reactance of the end winding. can be comThe quadrature-axis synchronous reactance puted in a similar manner, but with the mmf axis of the armature winding aligned with the quadrature axis. VI. COMPUTED RESULTS The method outlined above was implemented in a FORTRAN program that incorporates the FEM computations, preprocessing and postprocessing routines. Computations were performed on a 2.5-kVA, 1500-r/min, star-connected prototype generator with inset NdFeB PM rotor. The pertinent machine data are given in the Appendix. Figs. 6 and 7 show the composite flux plot for the generator when excited by direct-axis current and quadrature-axis current, respectively. The flux density distribution is symmetrical about the center-line of the rotor pole when direct-axis armature current flows and relatively few flux lines pass through the interpolar iron. When quadrature-axis armature current flows, however, the cross-magnetizing mmf results in an asymmetrical flux density distribution and the quadrature-axis flux is strengthened due
Fig. 6. Composite flux plot of prototype generator when excited by direct-axis armature current.

Fig. 7. Composite flux plot of prototype generator when excited by quadrature-axis current. TABLE I PER-PHASE PARAMETERS


to the low reluctance provided by the interpolar iron. The flux plots thus illustrate convincingly the existence of inverse saliency in an ac generator with inset PM rotor. For comparison purpose, computations were also performed on an identical generator with surface-mounted PM rotor (i.e., one with the interpolar iron pole pieces removed). The computed results are summarized in Table I. It is seen that the inset rotor construction results in a remarkbut only a slight increase in . Moreover, able increase in



Fig. 8. Computed load characteristics of ac generators with inset and surface-mounted PM rotors.

Fig. 10. Experimental performance characteristics of prototype ac generator at rated speed.

Fig. 9.

Computed load characteristics of ac generator with inset PM rotor. Fig. 11. Experimental and load characteristics of prototype PM generator at different speeds.

the presence of interpolar iron pole pieces results in a slight decrease in the no-load voltage. The prototype generator has an inverse saliency ratio of 2.53 approximately. Fig. 8 shows the voltage characteristics of the two types of PM ac generators when supplying a unity-power-factor load, computed using the above machine parameter values and a per-phase armature resistance of 0.295 . For easy comparison, the voltages have been normalized to the corresponding no-load voltages. At the nominal speed of 1500 r/min, the full-load voltage drops in the generators with inset PM rotor and surface-mounted PM rotor are 4.4% and 8.4%, respectively. At a speed of 6000 r/min, the generator with inset PM rotor exhibits a nearly level voltage characteristic, with zero voltage drop occurring at full load. The computed results have confirmed that the inset PM rotor construction is effective in improving the voltage regulation. Fig. 9 shows the computed voltage-current characteristics of the prototype generator when operating at different speeds. It is observed that the voltage compensation due to inverse saliency increases with speed, which is consistent with the derivation in Section IV. Above 6000 r/min, the terminal voltage rises with increase of load (i.e., negative voltage regulation can be obtained). VII. EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS Fig. 10 shows the experimental performance characteristics of the prototype PM ac generator when driven at the nominal

speed (1500 r/min) and supplying a unity-power-factor load. The base voltage and current per phase are taken as 63.5 V and 13.3 A, respectively. At rated current, the voltage drop of the generator is 5.9% and the power output is 1.0 p.u. (2.5 kW) at an efficiency of 86.2%. Further work is in progress to include the losses in the FEM program for a more comprehensive performance analysis. Fig. 11 shows the experimental and computed voltage characteristics of the PM ac generator when supplying a balanced unity-power-load and driven at different speeds. The characteristics are nearly level and parallel to each other; hence, the machine is suitable for use as a constant-voltage ac generator. The close agreement between the computed and experimental results in Fig. 11 confirms the accuracy of the parameters obtained from the FEM. waveform of Fig. 12 shows the no-load line voltage the prototype generator at rated speed. Fig. 13 shows the line and line current of the prototype generator voltage at full load. Since a resistive load is being supplied, the phase is in phase with the phase (line) current , and voltage hence, the line voltage lags by 30 electrical degrees. Despite the use of the inset rotor construction, very small harmonic distortion is observed from the waveforms.



APPENDIX TECHNICAL DATA OF PROTOTYPE PM GENERATOR The stator of the prototype PM ac generator was constructed by rewinding the stator of a three-phase induction motor. The rotor core was made of solid steel on which the NdFeB magnets and the soft-iron pole pieces were attached. Special nonmagnetic retaining rings were used to hold the magnets and soft-iron pole pieces against the centrifugal forces. Besides, the edges of the permanent magnets and the interpolar soft-iron pole pieces were slightly tapered and the space between the magnets and soft iron pole pieces were filled with epoxy for better mechanical strength. The specifications of the generator are as follows. General Three phase, four pole, 1500 r/min, star connected, 110 V, 2.5 kVA. Stator Outer diameter: 155 mm; Innner diameter: 98 mm; Number of slots: 36; Coil span: 7 slots; Axial core length: 100 mm; Turns per coil: 6; Cross-sectional area of conductors: 2.65 mm . Rotor Permanent magnet material: NdFeB; Outer diameter of soft-iron pole pieces: 97.3 mm Outer diameter of magnets: 96.4 mm; Inner diameter of magnets: 87.4 mm; Inner diameter of rotor core: 38 mm; e; Average pole arc of magnets: e; Average arc of interpolar soft-iron pole pieces: Space between magnet and soft-iron pole piece: e; Remanence of NdFeB magnets: 1.128 T; Coercive force of NdFeB magnet: 880 kA/m.
Fig. 13. Line voltage (V PM generator at full load.
) and line current (I ) waveforms of prototype

Fig. 12.

Line voltage (V

) waveform of prototype PM generator on no load.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT VIII. CONCLUSION The Electrical Engineering Department of Hong Kong Polytechnic University provided the testing facilities for this work. REFERENCES
[1] T. J. E. Miller, Brushless Permanent-Magnet and Reluctance Drives. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1989. [2] K. J. Binns and A. Kurdali, Permanent magnet a.c. generators, Proc. Inst. Elect. Eng., vol. 126, no. 7, pp. 690696, July 1979. [3] K. J. Binns and T. S. Low, Performance and application of multi-stacked imbricated permanent-magnet generators, Proc. Inst. Elect. Eng., pt. B, vol. 130, no. 6, pp. 407414, Nov. 1983. [4] B. J. Chalmers, Performance of interior type permanent-magnet alternator, Proc. Inst. Elect. Eng.-Elect. Power Applicat., vol. 141, no. 4, pp. 186190, July 1994. [5] M. A. Rahman, A. M. Osheiba, T. S. Radwan, and E. S. Abdin, Modeling and controller design of an isolated diesel engine permanent magnet synchronous generator, IEEE Trans. Energy Conversion, vol. 11, pp. 324330, June 1996.

The analysis and performance of a three-phase ac generator with inset NeFeB permanent-magnet rotor have been presented in this paper. Particular emphasis has been placed on the conditions for achieving zero voltage regulation when the generator is supplying an isolated resistive load. The FEM is employed to determine accurately the open-circuit voltage and synchronous reactances of the generator, while the two-axis theory is used for computation of the load characteristics. It is demonstrated that the voltage regulation is significantly improved as a result of the inverse saliency feature of the inset PM rotor construction. Experiments performed on a 2.5-kVA prototype generator have confirmed the accuracy of the theoretical analysis.



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L. L. Lai (SM92) received the B.Sc. (Hons.) and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Aston, Birmingham, U.K. Currently, he is Head of Energy Systems Group at City University, London, U.K. He is an Honorary Professor at the North China Electric Power University, Beijing, China, and a Visiting Professor of Southeast University, Nanjing, China. He was appointed Senior Lecturer at Staffordshire Polytechnic (now Staffordshire University) in 1984. From 1986 to 1987, he was the Royal Academy of Engineering Industrial Fellow to both GEC Alsthom Turbine Generators Ltd. and its Engineering Research Center. He has authored/coauthored many technical papers. In 1998, he wrote a book entitled Intelligent System Applications in Power EngineeringEvolutionary Programming and Neural Networks. Recently, he edited a book Power System Restructuring and DeregulationTrading, Performance and Information Technology. Dr. Lai was awarded the IEEE Third Millennium Medal and 2000 IEEE Power Engineering Society UKRI Chapter Outstanding Engineer Award. In 1995, he received a high-quality paper prize from the International Association of Desalination, U.S. Among his professional activities are his contributions to the organization of several international conferences in power engineering and evolutionary computing. He was also the Conference Chairman of the IEEE/IEE International Conference on Power Utility Deregulation, Restructuring and Power Technologies 2000. Recently, he was invited by the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers to be the Chairman of an Accreditation Visit to accredit a university B.Eng. (Hons.) degree course in electrical engineering. He is a Corporate Member of the IEE.

T. F. Chan (M95) received the B.Sc. (Eng.) and M.Phil. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Hong Kong, China, in 1974 and 1980, respectively. Currently, he is Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China, where he has been since 1978. His current research interests include self-excited ac generators, brushless ac generators, and permanent-magnet machines.

Lie-Tong Yan was born in 1934 in Shanghai, China. He graduated from the Department of Electrical Engineering at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, in 1957. After graduation, he joined Tsinghua University, where he is now a retired professor. From 1995 to 1999, he participated in several research projects at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China. His research interests include electric machine design, field analysis of electric machines, finite-element method, and permanent-magnet motors. He is co-author of the book Analysis and Computation of Electromagnetic Field in Electric Machines (in Chinese). He has also published more than 30 technical papers in Chinese and international journals.