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51 - 030

Process control

Electro/Digital

Electrical resistance

This lesson will deal with the different properties and applications of electrical

resistors. Particular consideration will be given to the Wheatstone bridge.

The aspect of voltage losses in (long) electrical lines will be discussed briefly at

the end of this lesson.

1

Voltage dividers

Wheatstone bridge

Effects of temperature

Voltage losses

The copyright in this material is vested in Shell Global Solutions International B.V., The Hague, The Netherlands and Shell Netherlands Raffinaderij B.V. All rights

reserved. Neither the whole or any part of this document may be reproduced, stored in any retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means (electronic,

mechanical, reprographic, recording or otherwise) without the prior written consent of the copyright owner.

Lesson

1. Resistance and conductivity

A current will flow when the ends of a conductive wire are connected to a power

supply. The size of this current is determined by the voltage applied and by the

electrical resistance of the wire. If the voltage is kept constant but the length of

the wire is increased, then the intensity of the current will be reduced. If a

thicker wire is used and the voltage is kept the same, then the intensity of the

current will increase. If a wire made from a different material is measured, then

other values for the resistance will result. This shows that the resistance also

depends on the type of material used.

The electrical resistance is:

- directly proportional to the length of the wire;

- inversely proportional to the cross section of the wire;

- directly proportional to the resistivity of the material used.

The equation for the electrical resistance is as follows:

R=

( 1 ?)

A

In which:

R = electrical resistance ( )

l = length (m)

A = cross section (mm2)

= resistivity in m

- conductivity (G)

The electrical resistance is the measure of the extent to which a material opposes

the flow of an electric current. On the other hand, the conductance or

conductivity (G) is the measure of the extent to which a material allows the

electric current to pass through. Mathematically, the conductivity has the inverse

value of the resistance:

G=

1

R

The unit of measurement chosen for conductivity is the siemens (S). The

conductivity is always used when measuring the electrical conductivity of fluids.

When two electrodes immersed in a conductive fluid are connected to a power

supply, then an electric current will flow between them. The fluid behaves in the

same way as a solid conductor and is also able to conduct an electric current.

- free electrons

- ions

substances is transported by free electrons. The electrical charge in fluids,

however, is transported by ions (charged atoms or molecules). The measurement

of the conductivity of a fluid is therefore an indication of the ion concentration

in this fluid.

Question 1

What unit does the siemens (S) correspond to?

2. Voltage dividers

- fixed and variable

resistors

- potentiometers

- LIN or LOG

Up to this point, we have only dealt with fixed resistors. This means resistors

with a fixed resistance value. In practice, there are also variable resistors. In

current circuits it is often useful to be able to control the intensity of the current

in an adjustable manner. A variable resistor is used for this purpose. Resistors of

this type are usually composed of a long wire which is wound uniformly around

an insulating strip. An easily adjustable terminal is attached along the winding of

this wire. When the length of the resistor wire is changed, then this also changes

the resistance value.

Variable resistors of this kind are also known as voltage dividers or

potentiometers, depending on the application. There are two types of

potentiometer: linear and logarithmic. The difference between them relates to

the change in resistance when the potentiometer is rotated. Figure 1 shows the

difference between these two designs. The type of design is indicated on the

potentiometer by the designation LIN. or LOG.

5815-030-001-P

Figure 1

Difference between linear and logarithmic potentiometers

increases proportionately. When a logarithmic potentiometer is a rotated by the

same amount its resistance changes by an exponent of 10. This means, for

example, that a rotation of 150causes a change of 10 and a rotation of 300

causes a change of 100 .

Question 2

What is the distinction between the two types of potentiometers?

3

3. Wheatstone bridge

According to Kirchhoffs voltage law, the sum of the voltages in a closed circuit

is equal to zero. Figure 2 shows a circuit which is generally known as a

Wheatstone bridge.

5815-030-002-P

Figure 2

Wheatstone bridge

composed of resistors. Figure 2 shows fixed resistors. In a measurement circuit,

the Wheatstone bridge is formed by one or more voltage dividers. The following

applies for a circuit of this type:

for the left voltage divider (R1 + R2):

V1

V2

V3

V4

R1

R2

=

R3

R4

R1

R2

R3

R4

then

V1

V2

V3

V4

is

also valid. In this special case, the voltage Vtot is divided between R1 and R2 in

the same way as it is between R3 and R4. This means that the ammeter

corresponds exactly to the zero position. For an application of this kind, an

ammeter with the zero position in the centre is chosen.

If the value of one of the resistors changes, then the needle of the ammeter is

deflected. The resistance value of a resistor can be determined easily and

accurately by using a Wheatstone bridge. In order to determine the resistance in

this way, R1 is replaced by unknown resistance Rx. Resistors R2 and R4 have

fixed resistances with values that are known precisely. A potentiometer is used

for R3. The value at each level can be read off accurately from a scale.

points to 0. If this is satisfied, then the following applies:

Rx

R

= 3

R 2 R4

or:

Rx =

R3

R4

R2

Question 3

How can electrical resistance be measured accurately?

4. Effects of temperature

- temperature

coefficient

temperature on different materials does not appear to be the same. For metals,

the resistance increases when the temperature is increased. For semi-conductors,

conductive fluids or gases, the resistance appears to decrease as the temperature

is increased. The relationship between temperature variations and its effect on

the electrical resistance is governed by the temperature coefficient for a

particular material, which indicates how much the electrical resistance of a

resistor of 1 made from that material changes when the temperature changes

by 1 degree Celsius.

If the resistance in practice is equal to R and the temperature variation is

(tw - tc) C, then the change in the resistance can be calculated as follows:

Rw = Rc * {1 + (tw - tc)}

In which:

= temperature coefficient (C-1)

Rw = resistance at the new temperature ( )

Rc = resistance at the original temperature ( )

tw = new temperature (C)

tc = original temperature (C)

- NTC/PTC

for measuring the temperature. Resistors of this kind are known as NTC and

PTC resistors.

NTC

= Negative Temperature Coefficient

PTC

= Positive Temperature Coefficient

In addition to these temperature-dependent resistors, there are also resistors that

are influenced by other variables. Examples of other special resistors, which will

be dealt with later, are:

- pressure-dependent resistors;

- light-dependent resistors.

5

Resistance data for a number of different materials are collected in table 1. The

data in the table is given at 20 C because the resistivity is also dependent on

temperature.

Table 1

Resistance data for different materials at 20C

Material

Resistivity

Specific

.mm2/m

conductivity

S.m/mm2

Aluminium

0.03

33.3

Constantan

0.5

2.1

Carbon

600

0.0017

Copper

0.0175

57

Lead

0.21

4.7

Manganese

0.42

2.4

Brass

0.07

14.3

Nickel

0.44

2.4

Steel

0.12

8.3

Silver

0.016

62.5

Temperature

coefficient 1/K

0.0037

-0.00004

-0.0005

0.0037

0.004

0.00001

0.0015

0.0085

0.0052

0.0036

Question 4

What materials in table 1 have a negative temperature coefficient?

Question 5

When a bulb is turned on what causes the current flowing through it to be

approximately eight times higher than the standard current?

5. Voltage losses

An electric heater is connected to the mains power supply, as shown in figure 3.

5815-030-003-P

Figure 3

Circuit diagram showing an example of voltage losses

The supply voltage for the heater hardly differs from the voltage of the mains

power supply. The voltage loss in the short copper wire that is 1 m long is only

0.1 V. Such a small difference, with respect to 220 V, is negligible. If the heater

was connected via a supply line that was 100 m long, then the voltage loss

would be 100x larger greater. In such a case, the loss amounts to 10 V.

6

- the longer supply line;

- the relatively high current in the line (10 A).

In order to prevent high losses, it must be determined whether voltage loss is

permissible. If not, then a wire with a larger cross section must be used, for

example. For power plants, a maximum voltage loss of 5% of the mains supply

voltage is usually acceptable; for domestic installations this value is %; for

instrumentation line losses should be such that they do not affect the operation

of the equipment and should generally not exceed 5%.

Example 1

A motor is connected to the mains power supply via a copper cable that is 50 m

long. The motor requires a current of 18 A. The cross section of the cable is

2.5 mm2. How many volts are lost in the cable, and what is the voltage at the

terminals of the motor?

For this, the resistance of the entire line must first be calculated:

Rline =

1*?

A

Rline =

Rline =

100 * 0.0175 * 10

2.5 * 10 6

1.75

2.5

-6

= 0.7

Vline = l * Rline

Vline = 18 * 0.7 = 12.6 V

The voltage at the terminals of the motor can be calculated from:

Vmotor = Vmains - Vline

Vmotor = 220 - 12.6 = 207.4 V

The voltage loss in this line is greater than 5% of the mains supply voltage. In

this case, it would be advisable to chose a wire with a larger cross section.

Question 6

What factors are important with respect to voltage loss?

Summary

Electrical resistance is:

- directly proportional to the length of the wire;

- inversely proportional to the cross sectional area of the wire;

- directly proportional to the resistivity of the material used.

The resistivity (or specific resistance) of a material is the resistance of the

material for each 1 m in length and for each 1 mm2 of the cross section at 20 C.

As a equation, this is given by: rho= (A*R)/l

Conductivity is the reciprocal of the resistance: G =

1

R

There are two types of potentiometers:

- linear potentiometers;

- logarithmic potentiometers.

The Wheatstone bridge is a circuit of two voltage dividers connected in parallel

with an ammeter between them. The bridge is balanced if the ammeter is at 0.

This bridge circuit is used to determine the resistance value of an unknown

resistance of a resistor.

When the Wheatstone bridge is balanced, the unknown resistance is calculated

as follows:

R3

* R 2 = Rx

R4

The temperature coefficient indicates how much the resistance of a resistor of 1

made from the material under consideration changes when the temperature

changes by 1 degree Celsius. This can be given by the following equation:

Rw = Rc (l + (tw - tc)

For metals, the resistance increases when the temperature is increased. For semiconductors, conductive fluids or gases, the resistance appears to decrease as the

temperature increases.

Voltage losses in electrical lines are determined by the length of the lines as well

as the intensity of the current passing through the lines.

For power plants, a voltage loss of at most 5% of the mains supply voltage is

usually permissible; for domestic installation this value is 2%; for

instrumentation line or cable losses should be such that they do not affect the

operation of the equipment and should therefore generally not exceed 5%.

Test

Exercises

Do not send in your answers for correction

1.

Determine the conductivity of the parallel circuit.

2.

2 . What is the resistivity of the material?

3.

What is the cross section of a silver fuse wire if the resistance is 0.006

and the length is 45 mm?

3.

50 C?

5.

resistance is 98 k . Calculate the temperature coefficient of the carbon

from which the resistor is made.

6.

is made from a constantan wire with a of 0.5 * 10-6 m and a diameter of

0.15 mm. How many centimetres of constantan wire are needed in this

case?

7.

copper cable that is 100 m long. The current is 7 A and the cross section of

the cable is 2.5 mm2. Calculate the voltage at the connection terminals of

this load ( = 0.0175 * 10-6 m).

1

or -1

1.

2.

types of potentiometers:

- linear potentiometers;

- logarithmic potentiometers.

3.

Wheatstone bridge (see figure 2 in this lesson).

In order to determine the resistance in this way, R1 is replaced by unknown

resistance Rx. Resistors R2 and R4 have fixed resistances with values that are

known precisely. A potentiometer is used for R3. The value at each level can

be read off accurately from a scale. The unknown resistance is determined

by adjusting R3 till the ammeter reads zero. If this is satisfied, then the

R

following applies: R x = 3 * R2

R4

4.

5.

When turned on, the resistance of the filament is relatively low. As a result

the starting current will be very high. After switching on, the filament will

quickly reach a particularly high temperature. Because the filament has a

positive temperature coefficient, this will cause the resistance to increase.

The result is that the intensity of the current will be lower during operation

than when it is switched on.

6.

Voltage losses in electrical lines are determined by the length of the lines as

well as the intensity of the current passing through the lines.

1.

as follows:

1

Re

1

R1

1

R2

1

Re

1

25

1 + 4 + 1 = 5

100 100 100 100

1

Rv

100

= 20

5

10

2.

R=

(1 )

A

By filling in the data, the following is obtained (pay attention to the units):

2=

(7.065 )

(0.25 3.14 3 2

= 2 .mm2/m 210-6 m

3.

R=

(1 )

A

(A = cross section =

pD 2 )

4

By filling in the data, the following is obtained (pay attention to the units):

0.006 =

(0.045 0.016)

A

4.

The equation which gives the relationship between the resistance and the

temperature is used:

Rw = Rc (1 + (tw - tc)

By filling in the data, the following is obtained:

Rw = 20 * { 1 + 0.0085 * (50 - 15)} = 25.95

5.

The equation which gives the relationship between the resistance and the

temperature is used again:

Rw = Rc (1 + (tw - tc)

By filling in the data, the following is obtained:

98000 = 100000 * { 1 + * (60 - 20)}

After calculating the above the following is obtained for the temperature

coefficient of carbon: = -0.5 10-4 1/K

11

6.

R=

( 1 ??

A

By filling in the data, the following is obtained (pay attention to the units):

(1 0.5)

500 =

0.25 3.14 0.15 2

7.

To do this, the resistance of the whole line must be calculated first:

Rline = 1 *

Rline = 200 *

Rline =

3.5

2.5

0.0175

2.5

= 1.4

Vline = I * Rline

Vline = 7 * 1.4 = 9.8 V

The terminal voltage of the motor can be calculated from:

Vterminal = Vmains - Vline

Vterminal = 220 - 9.8 = 210.2 V

12

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