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Squirrel-cage rotor

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the induction motor. For the squirrel cage fan, see centri
fugal fan.
Figure 1. Squirrel cage rotor
A squirrel-cage rotor is the rotating part (rotor) used in the most common form
of AC induction motor. It consists of a cylinder of steel with aluminum or coppe
r conductors embedded in its surface. An electric motor with a squirrel-cage rot
or is termed a squirrel-cage motor.

Practical demonstration
Use in synchronous motors
Induction generators
See also

Figure 2. Diagram of the squirrel-cage (showing only three laminations)
The motor rotor shape is a cylinder mounted on a shaft. Internally it contains l
ongitudinal conductive bars (usually made of aluminum or copper) set into groove
s and connected at both ends by shorting rings forming a cage-like shape. The na
me is derived from the similarity between this rings-and-bars winding and a squi
rrel cage.
The solid core of the rotor is built with stacks of electrical steel laminations
. Figure 3 shows one of many laminations used. The rotor has a smaller number of
slots than the stator and must be a non-integer multiple of stator slots so as
to prevent magnetic interlocking of rotor and stator teeth at the starting insta
The rotor bars may be made either of copper or aluminum. A very common structure
uses die-case aluminum poured into the rotor after the laminations are stacked.
Some larger motors have aluminum or copper bars which are welded or brazed to e
nd-rings. Since the voltage developed in the squirrel cage winding is very low,
no intentional insulation layer is present between the bars and the rotor steel.
Figure 3. Stator and rotor laminations
The field windings in the stator of an induction motor set up a rotating magneti
c field through the rotor. The relative motion between this field and the rotor
induces electric current in the conductive bars. In turn these currents lengthwi
se in the conductors react with the magnetic field of the motor to produce force
acting at a tangent orthogonal to the rotor, resulting in torque to turn the sh
aft. In effect the rotor is carried around with the magnetic field but at a slig
htly slower rate of rotation. The difference in speed is called slip and increas
es with load.
The conductors are often skewed slightly along the length of the rotor to reduce
noise and smooth out torque fluctuations that might result at some speeds due t
o interactions with the pole pieces of the stator. The number of bars on the squ
irrel cage determines to what extent the induced currents are fed back to the st
ator coils and hence the current through them. The constructions that offer the
least feedback employ prime numbers of bars.

The iron core serves to carry the magnetic field through the rotor conductors. B
ecause the magnetic field in the rotor is alternating with time, the core uses c
onstruction similar to a transformer core to reduce core energy losses. It is ma
de of thin laminations, separated by varnish insulation, to reduce eddy currents
circulating in the core. The material is a low carbon but high silicon iron wit
h several times the resistivity of pure iron, further reducing eddy-current loss
, and low coercivity to reduce hysteresis loss.
The same basic design is used for both single-phase and three-phase motors over
a wide range of sizes. Rotors for three-phase will have variations in the depth
and shape of bars to suit the design classification. Generally, thick bars have
good torque and are efficient at low slip, since they present lower resistance t
o the EMF. As the slip increases, skin effect starts to reduce the effective dep
th and increases the resistance, resulting in reduced efficiency but still maint
aining torque.
The shape and depth of the rotor bars can be used to vary the speed-torque chara
cteristics of the induction motor. At standstill, the revolving magnetic field p
asses the rotor bars at a high rate, inducing line-frequency current into the ro
tor bars. Due to the skin effect, the induced current tends to flow at the outer
edge of the winding. As the motor accelerates, the slip frequency decreases and
induced current flows at greater depths in the winding. By tapering the profile
of the rotor bars to vary their resistance at different depths, or by construct
ing a double squirrel cage, the motor can be arranged to produce more or less to
rque at standstill and near its synchronous speed. [2]
Practical demonstration
To demonstrate how the cage rotor works, the stator of a single-phase motor and
a copper pipe (as rotor) may be used. If adequate AC power is applied to the sta
tor, an alternating magnetic field will revolve around within the stator. If the
copper pipe is inserted inside the stator, there will be an induced current in
the pipe, and this current will produce a magnetic field in the pipe. The intera
ction between the stator's revolving magnetic field and the copper-pipe-rotor's
induced magnetic field produces a torque and thus rotation.
Use in synchronous motors
A synchronous motor may have a squirrel-cage winding embedded in its rotor, used
to increase the motor starting torque and so decrease the time to accelerate to
synchronous speed. The squirrel cage winding of a synchronous machine will gene
rally be smaller than for an induction machine of similar rating. When the rotor
is turning at the same speed as the stator's revolving magnetic field, no curre
nt is induced into the squirrel-cage windings and the windings will have no furt
her effect on the operation of the synchronous motor at steady-state.
The squirrel cage winding in some machines provides a damping effect for load or
system disturbances, and in this role may be designated as an "amortisseur" win
dings. Large machines may only have amortisseur bars in the individual pole face
s, not interconnected between poles. Because the squirrel cage winding is not la
rge enough to dissipate the heat of continuous operation, large synchronous mach
ines often have protective relays to detect when the machine has fallen out of s
ynchronization with the supply voltage. [3]
Induction generators
Three phase squirrel cage induction motors can
his to work the motor must either be connected
t of capacitors. If the motor is run as a self
G) the capacitors can either be connected in a
] arrangement. The c2c method is for producing
ta method is for a three phase output. For the

also be used as generators. For t

to a grid supply or an arrangemen
exciting induction generator (SEI
delta or c2c[clarification needed
a single phase output and the del
motor to work as a generator inst

ead of a motor the rotor must be spun just faster than its nameplate speed, this
will cause the motor to generate power after building up its residual magnetism