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FACTA UNIVERSITATIS (NI S)
S ER .: E LEC . E NERG . vol. 23, No. 2, August 2010, 207-215.

Skin Effect Analysis in a Free Space Conductor
Marian Greconici, Gheorghe Madescu, and Martian Mot
Abstract: The low-frequency skin effect in free space conductors is analyzed numerically. The electromagnetic field in conductors has been calculated numerically using a
program based on finite elements method (FEM). The results, presented in a graphical
form, are compared with the similar analytical results, assuming some approximations.
Keywords: Low-frequency skin effect, free space conductor, finite element method,
FEM.

1 Introduction
an alternating current generates an alternating flux in the conductor material,
a so called skin effect is occurred. This phenomenon leads to an uneven
distribution of current density in the cross section area of the conductor and it is
known as the skin effect, [1–3].
The skin effect increases the resistance of the conductors and thus also can
produce significant losses in the conductor, and is, therefore, of interest in electrical equipments and especially in electric machines. In most of cases, this is an
undesired phenomenon.
Present paper analyses this effect for a free space conductor and presents some
numerical computations for conductors of different shapes and different cross sections area. Both, the magnetic field and current density distributions, on the cross
section of the conductor are presented using the FEM.

A

S

Manuscript received on November 19, 2009. An earlier version of this paper was presented at
9th International Conference on Applied Electromagnetics August 31 - September 02, 2009, Niˇs,
Serbia.
M. Greconici is with Politehnica University of Timisoara, Physical Foundation of Enginering Department, V. Parvan 2, 300223-Timisoara, Romania (e-mail: marian.greconici
@et.upt.ro). G. Madescu and M. Mot are with Romanian Academy Timisoara Branch,
M. Viteazul Bl.
24, 300223-Timisoara, Romania (e-mails: [gmadescu, martian]
@d109lin.utt.ro).

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of circular shape. using the Opera 12 software (of Vector Fields) based on the finite element method (FEM). Greconici. 3 Numerical Examples Two types of cross-sections. but such approximate relations are very useful in technical design area. Some examples of the low-frequency skin effect in conductors of finite size and free space are developed in present paper. For example. there occur some errors in additional losses calculations derived from the classical curves or approximate coefficients that are used during the classical design process. circular shaped and square shaped. Such relations introduce in consequence some errors in the evaluation of the skin effect in most of the cases. to estimate the skin effect in a free space conductor of some electrical equipment. the problem must be simplified considerably and thus approximate relations are obtained. was set as a field line far enough of the conductor. an electric field strength curl is induced in the internal path of the conductor: E =− ∂E ∂t (1) which in turn creates an eddy current density: J = σE (2) In order to reach an analytical solution. In the conductor domain. have been considered during the analyzed models. and M. Madescu. The used material of the conductor is copper with µ = µ0 and conductivity σ = 50 × 106 S/m and the prescribed rms value of the current density that flows . Outside the conductor. Mot: 208 2 Field Equations and Finite Element Formulation If a conductor with a cross-section area large enough carries an alternating current.M. a Laplace equation is satisfied: ∇2A = 0 (4) The boundary of the analyzed models. G. according to the Faradays induction law. the magnetic potential vector satisfied the relation: ∂A 1 A) = J 0 − σ ∇ × ( ∇ ×A µ ∂t (3) in which J 0 is the prescribed current density and σ (∂ A /∂ t) is the induced current density in conductor.

Field (a) and current (b) density distribution in circular shaped conductor.7×106 A/m2 on the periphery of the conductor. becomes larger as the resistance in direct current. 2b) are generated for a square shaped conductor with the side l = 40 mm. Rac. while the largest value is about Jmax = 5. the field lines and the current density distribution for the circular shaped conductor of r = 25 mm radius. The field lines (Fig. 1. The penetration deep for the analyzed models is: 1 σ=√ π f µ0 σ Using this data. are presented in Fig. generated by Opera.25 × 106 A/m2 in the center of the conductor. The lowest value of the current density is about Jmin = 2. (a) (b) Fig. 4 Conductor AC-Resistance A parameter of interest is the ac-conductor resistance. 2a). and f = 50 Hz. Do to the skin effect. and Pdc is the dc dissipated power in unit length of conductor. The coefficient of ac-resistance increasing (KR) is the ratio of the two resistances: Pac Rac = (5) KR = Rdc Pdc where Pac is the ac dissipated power in unit length of conductor. 1. . In Fig. 1b is presented the current density distribution along a diameter of the conductor. and the current density distribution (Fig. the resistance in alternating current. Rdc.Skin Effect Analysis in a Free Space Conductor 209 through the conductor is J0 = 3 × 106 A/m2 .

and M. Greconici. S. KR . Madescu. for a square shaped conductor. Fig. 3 has been drawn the coefficient of ac-resistance increasing. Dependence KR over cross section area S of the circular shaped conductor.M. Field (a) and current (b) density distribution in square shaped conductor. The comparison between the two curves shows very good agreements. while the curve 2 has been drawn using the numerical simulation. 4 depicts the dependence coefficient of ac-resistance increasing. G. For this ideal and unique case there is known the exact solution of the field problem. Mot: 210 (a) (b) Fig. versus conductor cross section area. In Fig. versus conductor cross section area. 2. KR . 3. pointing out the accurate of model used by the numerical computation analyzes (FEM). The curve 1 has been drawn using the analytical well known solution of the problem. . S. for a circular shaped conductor. Fig.

Fig. while the curve 2 has been drawn using the numerical simulation. This hypothesis can not be accepted today.3. In this case. In this work (1916). Dependence KR over cross section area S of the rectangle shaped conductor with the ratio b/a = 2. Press supposed that the flux density line is overlapped with the periphery of the rectangular conductor: [4. 4. Fig. The differences between the two curves are explained by the simplified hypothesis that Press has considered to achieve an analytical solution (closed form solution). 5. we estimate that the numerical results (curve 2) are more accurate as the analytical one (curve 1) obtained by Press using approximate formulas. Dependence KR over cross section area S of the square shaped conductor. . [6.Skin Effect Analysis in a Free Space Conductor 211 Fig. 5. Fig. The curve 1 has been drawn using an approximate analytical solution proposed by Press. [4–7]. 227].8].

The differences between the two types of curves are larger as the side ratio b/a of the rectangular conductor is higher. Dependence KR over cross section area S of the rectangle shaped conductor with the ratio b/a = 5. The same current density distribution is generated by symmetry of two subconductors. It happens because the approximation made by Press. 5 Skin Effect in Some Subconductor Groups Placed in Free Space Using the FEM. Madescu. Fig. KR . The comparison between the curves proposed by Press for the rectangular shaped conductors and the curves obtained using the numerical simulation (Fig. for a rectangle shaped conductor with the side ratio b/a = 2. versus conductor cross section area. . 6. 6. considering the conductor surface as a magnetic field line.212 M. Fig. 4-Fig. In Fig.7 A/mm2 around conductor center and 4. G. especially in Fig. or four subconductors. shows major differences. Fig. and frequency f = 50 Hz. Fig. Greconici. 6 depicts the dependence coefficient of ac-resistance increasing versus conductor cross section area for a rectangle shaped conductor with the ratio b/a = 5. 5 depicts the dependence coefficient of ac-resistance increasing. The range of the current density distribution is between 2. 7a is drawn the current density distribution for a single conductor. 8b. S. 8a and Fig. 7b. and M. 6). The material of the conductors is cooper and the prescribed rms value of the current density that flows through the conductors is J0 = 3 × 106 A/m2 . has been analyzed the skin effect of identical cross section subconductors that fill the same total area. Mot: Fig.3 A/mm2 in the corners of the conductor.

8 is according with [5. If the number of subconductors is greater than four. Current density distribution in the same total area divided in: (a) eight subconductors. Equivalent current density distributions in the case of two subconductors placed in two different modes. Current density distribution in the case of six subconductors placed in two different modes. 9. . Equivalent current density distributions in the same total area: (a) a single conductor. The Fig. The current density range is between 2.6 A/mm2 and 3. 9. (a) (b) Fig. The equivalent current density distribution from Fig. unequivalent current density distributions in total area is obtained.5 A/mm2 . 6] and is obtained only for two or four subconductors. 8. (b) nine subconductors. 10 and Fig. 7. 11 point out an unsymmetrical distribution of the current density using a different number of conductors. 10. Fig. (a) (b) Fig. 7 and Fig.Skin Effect Analysis in a Free Space Conductor (a) (b) Fig. (b) four subconductors 213 (a) (b) Fig.

pp. “Eddy current losses in large air coils with layered stranded conductors. vol. 1951. 1. Elektrische Maschinen Berechnung rotierender elektrischer Maschinen. [4] R. Konrad. 6.E.E. on Magnetics. Biro. K. “Integrodifferential finite element formulation of two-dimensional steadystate skin effect problems. Elektrische Maschinen. 1318–1321. pp. 1977. [2] A. . Current density distribution in the same total area divided in: (a) twelve subconductors.E. 1125–1127. 284–292. Madescu.E.E. MAG-18. “Finite element analysis of the skin effect in current carrying conductors. O. Berlin: Veb Verlag Technik. 5. The aim of the present paper is to show that some coefficients and curves used in electrical engineering design must be reconsidered. Richter.” I. 1982.M.E. 6 Conclusion This paper presents the low-frequency skin effect in a free space copper conductor of some electrical equipment. [3] K.E. Trans. vol. Greconici. 44. [5] K. Csendes. pp. Ticar. no. Trans. Basel: Verlag Birkhauser.E. 2008. Erster Band. Mot: 214 (a) (b) Fig.” I. on Magnetics. MAG-13. G. Vogt. Chari and Z. References [1] M. no. and I.” I. high power transformers or some end bares windings of electrical machines. using modern techniques like numerical computation of the electromagnetic field with finite element method (FEM). (b) sixteen subconductors. Preis. Trans. no. 1974. In consequence the additional copper losses are larger and the efficiency of the actual machine becomes lower than the estimated one. The numerical results show that the ac-resistance of a free space conductor estimated with FEM is higher than ac-resistance calculated with classical approximated relations recommended in practical design. on Magnetics. vol. H.E. and M. Papp. 11. Reisinger.

Vogt. [8] Opera 12.Skin Effect Analysis in a Free Space Conductor 215 [6] G. Romania: IPTV Publishing House. Sabata. Berechnung Elektrischer Maschinen. D. Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering. Wiley-VCH Verlag. 2. Ponik. 2008. K. 1974. and B. . Timisoara. 2D Reference Manual. 2008. (in Romanian).Muller. [7] I. vol.