XIX International Conference on Electrical Machines  ICEM 2010, Rome
G. Fabri, C. Olivieri, M. Tursini
^{Φ} Abstract  This paper presents a rotor position estimation technique for a fivephase permanent magnet synchronous motor with independent phases, based on a backEMF observer. The method involves the use of a proper linear transformation which allows representing the fivephase motor by an equivalent twophase model. Due to its characteristics, the sensorless strategy can be used in multiphase motors having nonsinusoidal backEMF shape, such is the case of brushless DC motors used in faulttolerant applications. After an overview of the backEMF model for the fivephase motor, the linear transformation and the observerbased estimation technique are presented. Experimental results show the overall performance during transient and steadystate operation.
Index Terms — Brushless DC, estimation techniques, five phase motor, linear transformation, permanent magnet synchronous motor, sensorless drives, backEMF observer.
I.
NOMENCLATURE
x phase subscript;
V _{x} , I _{x}
phase voltage and current;
R , L
E _{x}
phase resistance and inductance;
magnetinduced backEMF;
f _{x}
Ψ
Mx
backEMF shape function;
magnet flux linkage;
θ
m rotor mechanical position;
θ
r
rotor electrical position;
ω
r
K
e
rotor electrical speed;
backEMF constant;
p
C e
ˆ
rotor polepairs;
electromagnetic torque;
X estimated value of variable X;
X (1)
1 ^{s}^{t} harmonic of variable X.
II.
INTRODUCTION
P ermanent Magnet Synchronous Motors (PMSM) are
widely employed for their high efficiency, silent
operation, compact form, reliability, and low maintenance.
Depending on the application, different typologies of motors
are used, with different rotor structure (surface or buried
magnets), winding type (distributed or concentrated), and
backEMF shape (sinusoidal or trapezoidal).
Recently, multiphase PMSM with independent phases
have been proposed for safety critical applications such as
aircraft brakes, spoiler or flap actuators, [1], [2], [3]. In these
cases, the multiphase machine is fed by a multiphase
power converter, and the whole drive system must satisfy
severe faulttolerant requirements, which involve the control
hardware and the drive sensors too.
^{Φ} Giuseppe Fabri, Carlo Olivieri and Marco Tursini are with the Department of Electrical and Information Engineering, University of L’Aquila, I67100, L’Aquila, Italy (email: giuseppe.fabri@univaq.it, carlo.olivieri@univaq.it, marco.tursini@univaq.it).
9781424441754/10/$25.00 ©2010 IEEE
Brushless DC (BLDC) motors are preferred, with
magnets mounted on the rotor surface and trapezoidal
shaped backEMF. Halleffect bipolar sensors can be used as
primary position transducers, in a quite simple and reliable
assessment: each statorfixed Hall sensor, one for each
phase, directly detects the polarity of the undergoing rotor
magnets with a proper angular displacement. The digital
signals are processed by the controller and the rotor position
information is computed with the resolution necessary for
the electronic commutation of the motor.
In some cases magnetic encoders are adopted, with the
role of secondary sensor, and sensor redundancy is provided
to match the faulttolerant requirements. To this matter, in
order to extend the faulttolerant drive capabilities,
sensorless strategies can be provided, capable to assure safe
operation also in case of fault of one or more sensor [4], [5].
In this paper, an approach to rotor position detection for a
multiphase PMSM is presented, suitable for application
with surface mounted PM motors having unknown and
whatever shaped backEMF waveforms, such as BLDC
motors. The estimation technique is based on the principle of
the backEMF observer [6], [7], extended in this case to a
multiphase machine, in particular to a fivephase motor.
The core of this approach is the use of a properly
designed transformation to bring the multiphase description
of the motor into a twophase description and then applying
to the transformed system the state observer. This last one is
used to reconstruct the instantaneous value of the motor
backEMF so we can subsequently calculate the desired
angular information through a proper phase detection
algorithm. Experimental results are presented to confirm the
validity of the proposed approach for the use in multiphase
machines.
III.
FIVEPHASE PM BLDC MOTOR
Fig. 1 shows a cross section of the fivephase PM BLDC
motor considered in this paper, [8].
Fig. 1. Fivephase PM BLDC motor.
Fig. 2. Power converter for independent phase feeding.
It has 18 rotor poles and 20 stator slots (4 slots per phase).
Each phase consists of two series coils mounted on
diametrically displaced stator teeth. Due to this structure,
independent feeding of each phase is provided by
independent Hbridges modules [9] as can be seen in Fig. 2.
Hence it results that motor phases are independent from each
other, in the sense of electrical, thermal and magnetic
interactions, a suitable feature to avoid a single phase faults
to affect the remaining safe phases.
A. Fivephase model
Dealing with the description of such kind of independent
phase machine, we can write down the following generalized
voltage equation:
= R I
x
+ L
d
I
x
d
t
+ E (θ )
x
r
(1)
where the subscript “x” ( x = A , B , C , D , E ) indicates a generic
phase of the motor, and
θ = pθ
r
m
the rotor (electric) angle.
The instantaneous value of the backEMF is given by the
time derivative of the magnet flux linkage in the phase,
which in turn depends from the position of the rotor:
E
x
(θ ) =
r
d
Ψ
Mx
(θ )
r
d
Ψ
Mx
(θ )
r
d
θ
r
d
Ψ
Mx
(θ )
r
=
⋅
=
⋅
d
t
d
θ
r
d
t
d
θ
r
ω
r
with
ω
r
is the rotor speed.
(2)
In order to generalize the voltage balance in case of non
sinusoidal machines, the normalized backEMF shape
functon is defined as follows:
The shape functions of the motor considered in this paper
are reported in Fig. 3, while the electrical parameters are
reported in Table I. Depending on the motor design, the
backEMF waveforms are quasitrapezoidal and they are
symmetrically displaced over just onehalf of the electrical
period, which gives the machine an intrinsic asymmetry.
Regarding to the electromagnetic torque, it can be
expressed in the particular case of a multiphase machine in
the following way:
C
e
=
p
E
∑
d
Ψ (θ )
Mx
r
x
=
A
d
θ
r
I
x
=
p
ω
r
E
∑
E (
x
θ
r
) I
x
x
=
A
(5)
and using the shape functions one obtains:
angle (degrees)
Fig. 3. BackEMF shape functions of the fivephase motor (design data).
C
e
= p
E
∑
K
x
=
A
(θ ) I
r
x
.
B. Spacevector representation
(6)
In order to setup the sensorless strategy with a minimum
number of equations, an equivalent spacevector
representation of the fivephase motor has been developed.
The objective is to achieve sine/cosine shapes for the
components of the equivalent shape function (i.e. back
EMF) spacevector, in order to setup a twophase observer
similar to that employed in more standard threephase
motors.
To this purpose, the linear transformation given by matrix
(7) can be considered, which allows to represents the five
phase motor by a couple of spacevectors with components
denoted as _{α}_{β} and α ′β ′ and an homopolar component.
[
T
]
ABCDE
→
′
αβοα β
′
=
2
5
⎡
⎢
⎢
⎢
⎢
⎢
⎢
⎢
⎢
⎢
⎣ ⎢
cos
( 0 )
−
sin
(0)
1
cos
( 0 )
−
sin
( 0 )
cos
(
π
5
)
−
sin
(
π
5
)
−
1
−
cos
(
2
π
5
)
sin
(
2
π
5
)
cos
(
2
π
5
)
−
sin
(
2
π
5
)
1
cos
(
4
π
5
)
−
sin
(
4
π
5
)
cos
(
3
π
5
)
−
sin
(
3
π
5
)
−
1
−
cos
(
6
π
5
)
sin
(
6
π
5
)
cos
(
4
π
5
)
−
sin
(
4
π
5
)
1
cos
(
8
π
5
)
−
sin
(
8
π
5
)
⎤
⎥
⎥
⎥
⎥
⎥
⎥
⎥
⎥
⎥
⎥ ⎦
(7)
In (7) the first two rows are achieved by the projection of
the magnetic axes of the five phase motor on the orthogonal
system αβ displaced as shown in Fig. 4, they define a direct
sequence spacevector. The third, forth and fifth rows are
defined considering the virtual inversion of the magnetic
axis direction of phases B and D, i.e. the equivalent motor
of phases A,C,E,B,D, symmetrically displaced of 2π/5
electrical degrees. The third row defines the homopolar (zero
sequence) component, while the forth and fifth rows define
an inverse sequence spacevector whose values would be
null in case of purely sinusoidal motor and safe operation.
The multiplicative factor is chosen in order to have the same
amplitude of the phase and transformed variables (for a
purely sinusoidal motor).
The application of the transformation (7) to the back
EMF shape functions of the fivephase motor gives the
results reported in Fig. 5.
Alpha  Beta components
1 


0 

1 

0 
120 
240 
360 
480 
600 
720 

Zero sequence component 

0.05 

0 


0.05 

0 
120 
240 
360 
480 
600 
720 

Alpha'  Beta' components 

0.2 


0 

0.2 

0 
120 
240 
360 
480 
600 
720 
angle (degrees)
Fig. 5. Shape functions of the transformed equivalent model.
Due to the quasitrapezoidal backEMF nature of the
BLDC motor, both the zero sequence and the inverse
sequence components are not equal to zero, nevertheless this
aspect will not affect the proposed sensorless strategy.
In fact, in the following we will consider only the direct
sequence components for the setup of the observerbased
sensorless strategy. In fact, the information on the rotor
position can be extracted by the first harmonic of the direct
sequence component independently on the values of the zero
and inverse sequence ones.
C. Equivalent backEMF model
Considering the equivalent twophase statorfixed alpha
beta model associated to the direct sequence spacevector of
the fivephase motor, the following state form (matrix)
equation is obtained:
d
I
αβ
=
d
t
[
A
11
]
I
αβ
+
[
A
12
]
E
αβ
+
[]
B
1
V
αβ
where:
V
αβ
= V
α
,
V
β
T
=
[
T
]
⋅ V
ABCDE → αβ
ABCDE
,
I
αβ
E
αβ
=
I
α
,
I
β
T
(
θ
r
)
=
E
α
,
=
E
[
T
]
⋅ I
ABCDE
,
ABCDE → αβ T
β
=
[
T
]
⋅
ABCDE → αβ
E
ABCDE
(
θ
r
)
,
and
[
A
11
]
R
= −
L
⎡
1
⎢
⎢ ⎣ 0
0
1
⎤
⎥
⎥ ⎦
_{,}
[
B
1
]
=
1
L
⎡
1
⎢
⎢ ⎣ 0
0
1
⎤
⎥
⎥ ⎦
_{,}
[
A
12
]
[]
= − B
1
(8)
are matrices of constant system parameters.
The backEMF dependence on rotor magnet position can
be arranged in the following general form:
E
αβ
(
θ
r
)
=
K
e
ω
r
⎛
⎜
⎝
∞
∑
h =1
f
(
h
)
αβ
(
hθ
r
(9)
where the periodic shape functions are expressed through the
Fourier series expansion, and for the conventions assumed in
the linear transformation one has:
( 1 ) α
f
(
θ
r
)
= −
sinθ
r
;
( 1 ) β
f
(
θ
r
)
=
cosθ
r
(10)
According to (6), the rotor (magnet) position information
is contained in the sine/cosine shapes of the 1 ^{s}^{t} harmonic
backEMFs. If the speed is assumed as a constant (that is the
case of speed steadystate operation), the following relations
are achieved by time derivatives of these fundamentals:
being:
d
E
( 1 ) αβ
=
d
t
[
A
22
]
E
( 1 )
αβ
[
A
22
]
= ω
r
⎡
⎢
⎣ ⎢
0
1
−
1
0
⎤
⎥ =
⎥ ⎦
[
A ( ω )]
22
r
a speed dependent matrix.
(11)
(12)
By associating (8) and (11) the following extended model
is obtained, which represents the motor dynamics in terms of
1 ^{s}^{t} harmonics backEMFs at speed steadystate:
d 
X 

d 
t 
= 
[ A] X + 
[B]V 
αβ 

with 
X 
= 
[ I 
α 
, I β , E 
α 
, E β 
] T 
state variables, and: 

[ 
A 
] 
= 
⎡ ⎢ 
[ 
A 
11 ] 
− 
[ 
B 
1 ] 
⎤ 
⎥ 
[ B 
] 
= 
⎡ ⎢ [B ] 1 ⎤ 
⎥ 

⎣ ⎢ 
0 
[ A 
22 
( ω )] r ⎦ ⎥ 
_{,} 
⎢ ⎣ 0 
⎥ ⎦ 

system matrices. 
(13)
In the extended model (13) the currents acts as the system
outputs (measurable statevariables), the applied voltages are
the system inputs, while the backEMF components take the
role of internal (non measurable) statevariables.
IV.
OBSERVERBASED SENSORLESS STRATEGY
A. BackEMF observer
From the previous extended model a linear state observer
can be built as follows (Luenbergerlike observer):
d
X
=
d
t
[
A] X
+
[B]
V
αβ
+
[K ]
(
I
αβ
−
ˆ
I
αβ
)
(14)
with
ˆ
X
=
[ I ˆ
α
, I ˆ
β
, E ˆ
α
, E ˆ
β
]
T
estimated state variables, and:
[
K
]
=
⎡
⎢
⎣ ⎢
[
K
1
]
[
G
][
K
1
⎤
]⎥ ^{⎥} ⎦
_{,}
[
K
1
]
=
k
1
⎡
⎢
⎢ ⎣
1
0
0
1
⎤
⎥
⎦ ⎥
_{,}
[
G
]
=
g
⎡
⎢
⎢ ⎣
1
0
0
1
⎤
⎥
⎦ ⎥
gain matrices (with k _{1} and g constant gains), where the
parameter g stands for a generic proportionality factor that
can be used to weight more heavily the backemfs estimates
with respect to the currents estimates.
The observer is used to estimate the runtime waveforms
of the 1 ^{s}^{t} harmonic motor backEMFs. From these we can
retrieve the angular position and the speed of the rotor
magnet axis by a proper phase detection algorithm as
described in the next subsection.
B. Rotor speed and position detection
The block scheme of the algorithm employed for rotor
speed and position detection is shown in Fig. 6. The basic
principle refers to a quadrature Phase Locked Loop (PLL). It
involves the generation of an error signal from the phase
difference between harmonic input signals (in our case the
estimated backEMF components) and corresponding
quadrature feedback functions of the estimated angle.
Assuming for the estimated 1 ^{s}^{t} harmonics of the back
EMF the phase relation given by (9) and (10), and using the
Werner’s formula we can write the following expression of
the error signal:
ε
(t) ∝
(
sin
~
θ
ˆ
r
cos
θ
r
~
− cos
θ
r
sin
θ ˆ )
r
∝ sin
~
( θ
r
− θ ˆ )
r
(15)
where
~
θ
r
represents the argument of the input waveforms
(assumed as known references) and
ˆ
θ
r
is the argument of
the feedback signals, i.e. the estimated angle. For small
deviations between them one obtains:
ε
(t) ≈
~
( θ
r
− θ ˆ )
r
(16)
Hence, a Proportional Integral (PI) regulator can be used
to generate the closed loop feedbacks, in order to correct the
angle deviation and bringing the estimated angle to converge
to the reference one. The estimated speed signal can be
obtained by introducing a further integration block between
the output of the PI regulator and the generation of the
feedback signals.
Fig. 6. Phase detector scheme.
Hence, the observerbased sensorless strategy for the
fivephase BLDC motor can be resumed by the functional
blocks shown in Fig. 8: first, the fivephase motor currents
and voltages are measured and transformed into the
equivalent αβ components using the first two rows of the
linear transformation (7); second, using these measurements,
the timevarying alphabeta components of the 1 ^{s}^{t} harmonic
backEMF are estimated in the backEMF observer; third,
from these estimates, the rotor speed and magnet axis
position are computed by the phase detection algorithm.
Due to the dependence of the observer submatrix [
A
22 ]
from the rotor speed, the estimate of this signal must be used
as an additional runtime input of the observer.
Fig. 8. Observerbased sensorless strategy.
C. Sensorless drive scheme
The drive scheme incorporating the observerbased
sensorless strategy is shown in Fig. 7.
Modular architecture is used in current control. Five
independent current control loops regulate the phase
currents. In each current loop a comparison between
reference and measured current is performed, error is PI
regulated and correction is applied through five independent
Hbridges in the voltagesource inverter. An external loop
regulates the speed by comparison with the respective
feedback, the speed error is regulated through a PI regulator
and torque requirement in term of current reference is
generated.
Fig. 9. BLDC control strategy.
The commutation logic used to compute the current
references is shown in Fig. 9. According to the BLDC
control strategy, constant torque is generated by feeding the
motor phases with constant current in constant backEMF
wave region. To achieve this behavior the rotor electric turn
is divided into ten sectors, in each sector only four
backEMFs are constant so that the motor is fed by four
quasisquare backEMF synchronous currents, while the
remaining current is controlled at zero.
_{V}_{.} EXPERIMENTAL SETUP AND RESULTS
The experimental setup arranged to verify the
performance of the sensorless strategy for the fivephase
BLDC motor is shown in Fig. 10. The control unit is based
on a TMS320F2806 digital signal controller (DSC), whose
enhanced peripheral capabilities are used for interfacing the
power hardware both for control and diagnostic purposes.
Position sensors are provided, in order to setup and
evaluate the performance of sensorless control: five Hall
sensors are used to generate the magnet field sector
information needed for the BLDC commutation logic; a
squarewave quadrature encoder with 536 (134 x 4)
pulsesperrevolution is also present, employed for speed
computation.
The experimental setup includes a host PC, a Digitalto
Analog Converter (DAC) and a scope. The host PC runs the
DSC development and debugger tools and the user interface,
this last allows data exchange with the control firmware. The
scope is used for displaying the variables computed by the
control algorithm in realtime, through a 4 channel DAC.
Fig. 10. Drive board description and experimental system setup.
Figures
11
to
14 report some test results of the
fivephase sensorless drive prototype. In a first development
step, tests have been carried out with the observer in open
loop, i.e. the estimated speed and position are not used for
motor control.
Fig. 11 shows the estimated alpha and beta backEMF
components versus the commutation sector evolution
(measured from the Hall sensors) during a noload test at
about rated speed (570 rpm, equal to 85.5 Hz).
According to what expected from theory the shapes of the
estimated backEMFs are close to pure sinusoids, the alpha
beta components are in quadrature with the first one leading
on the second one. Being the “zero” of the actual position
located on the center of the first sector (see Fig. 9), this test
would prove an estimation error of about onehalf sector, i.e.
18 electrical degrees. Investigation about this error is out of
the scope of the present paper. Nevertheless, due to intrinsic
implementation delays in the acquisition of the Hall sensor
signals, the position estimation error computed from the
scope outputs represents just an indication.
Fig. 12 shows the response of the backEMF observer
when it operates at low speed condition (60 rpm, equal to
9 Hz). The shapes of the backEMFs are estimated correctly
even in this situation. Also the electrical position is shown:
in this case the position reference is aligned with the alpha
axis localized in the center of the first sector, leading to
position estimation error apparently equal to zero.
Fig. 13 shows the estimated backEMF during a ramp
speed transient from a low value to a medium one: the
amplitudes and frequencies increase correctly and smoothly
with the speed, the dynamic response of the observer appears
to be fast and well damped.
Fig. 11. Alpha (black trace) and Beta (blue trace) components of the back
EMFs, commutation sector (magenta) and speed (green) @ 570 rpm
(voltage is scaled to 50V/div).
Fig. 12. Commutation sector (magenta), estimated position (black) and
estimated Alpha and Beta backEMFs (green and blue respectively) @ 60
rpm (voltage is scaled to 20V/div).
Fig. 13. Alpha and Beta backEMFs (black and blue respectively),
commutation sector (magenta) and speed (green) in speed transition from 60
to 390 rpm (voltage is scaled to 20V/div).
Finally, 
in 
Fig. 14 
are 
shown 
the estimated electric 

position and speed and the corresponding measured signals 

in 
a more large speed transition from low to about rated 
value. It can be noticed that the estimated speed is
consistent with the measured speed in a quite satisfactory
way.
Fig. 14. Commutation sector (magenta) and actual speed (blue) are reported
in the upper axis, estimated position (black) and estimated speed (green) are
reported in the lower axis, during a speed transition from 60 to 570 rpm
(speed is scaled to 300rpm/div).
VI.
CONCLUSIONS
An approach to the rotor speed and position estimation in
a fivephase BLDC motor is proposed, based on a backEMF
observer. A linear transformation is developed to represent
the fivephase motor by an equivalent twophase model and
a 4 ^{t}^{h} order state observer is implemented including the back
EMFs dynamics. The position is extracted from the
estimated backEMFs using a PLL algorithm.
The presence of saturation is not taken into account
because the twophase linear model developed in this study
is able to correctly describe the behavior of the system with
good approximation.
The proposed strategy has been validated by experimental
results with the observer operating in openloop, the analysis
has pointed out that the rotor position and speed are
estimated with good reliability both at high and low speed.
Estimation errors reported at high frequency operation
such as the influence of the observer gains setup require a
deeper analysis and will be investigated in the next step of
this research.
TABLE I
_{M}_{O}_{T}_{O}_{R} PARAMETERS
base speed 
600 
rpm 
base voltage 
240 
V _{p}_{k} 
base current 
5 A pk 

rated torque 
16 Nm 

pole pairs 
9 

phase resistance 
3.88 
Ω 
phase inductance 
24.1 
mH 
backEMF constant 
0.0972 V _{p}_{k} / rpm 
VII.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT
The authors want to thanks UmbraGroup (Foligno, Italy)
for making available the fivephase motor prototype
considered as test case in this paper.
_{V}_{I}_{I}_{I}_{.}
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IX.
B IOGRAPHIES
Giuseppe Fabri was born in Rieti, Italy, on January 24, 1982. He graduated
from the University of L’Aquila in 2009 in Electronic Engineering. He is
currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Electrical and Information
Engineering, University of L’Aquila, where is involved in development of
electrical motor drives for automotive and aerospace application.
Carlo Olivieri was born in Teramo, Italy, on August 5, 1983. He received
his M.S. degree in Computer Science and Automation Engineering in 2008
from the University of L’Aquila. At present he is a Ph.D. student in the
department of Electrical and Information Engineering, at the University of
L’Aquila, working in the field of automotive devoted to the study of the
sensorless techniques and in the field of robust control.
Marco Tursini received the M.S. degree in electrical engineering from the
University of L’Aquila, Italy, in 1987. He became an Assistant Professor of
power converters, electrical machines, and drives in 1991, and an Associate
Professor of electrical machines in 2002. In 1990, he was Research Fellow
at the Industrial Electronics Laboratory, Swiss Federal Institute of
Technology of Lausanne, where he conducted research on sliding mode
control of permanent magnet synchronous motor drives, and in 1994 at the
WEMPEC, Nagasaki University. His research interests are focused on
advanced control of ac drives, including vector, sensorless, and fuzzy logic
control, digital motion control, DSPbased systems for realtime
implementation, and modeling and simulation of electrical drives. He has
authored more than 90 technical papers on these subjects.
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