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Electrical characteristics of induction furnaces:

Earlier low frequency models model of induction furnaces were used which were
directly connected to the 60 Hz utility supply. But because of its limitations in
control and lower efficiency, medium frequency induction furnace systems have
seen a growth in their usage; whereas high frequency systems have limited special
purpose use only. The medium frequency systems operate at frequencies ranging
from 150 to 3000 Hz.
But despite its advantages, the medium frequency induction furnaces develop
significant problems in the power interface. For example, the furnace generates
fixed and variable frequency harmonics leading to considerable harmonic distortion.

Electronic power supply circuit:


For efficient melting operation, controlled current and frequency supply is needed
and there are 2 types of solid state power supplies used for medium frequency
induction furnace:

Current-fed power supply or parallel furnace resonant circuit


Voltage-fed power supply or series furnace resonant circuit

Voltage-fed power supply:


Voltage-fed power supply makes use of an input diode rectifier and a parallel
connected DC capacitor to produce and store DC, respectively. This DC capacitor
provides or absorbs excess energy for starting and stopping the inverter, which in
turn controls melting power by its commutation frequency. The output inverter
regulates the current to the furnace and the series tuning capacitor. Such type of
supply is capable to handle high currents.
Current-fed power supply:
Current-fed power supply involves a phase-controlled rectifier and filter circuit along
with an inverter to obtain desired frequency and voltage output to control the
melting power. Rectifier provides controlled voltage to the DC link and two series
inductors provide for energy storage as well as filtering. Also, a starter circuit and a
crowbar circuit are needed to energize the inductors and to discharge them on
completion of melting process, respectively. The inverter feeds a square wave
current to the parallel resonant circuit (capacitor bank and heating coil).

But the current fed power supply has less control over the furnace current than the
voltage-fed supply because its invertor gets only 10% of the furnace resonant
current. Rest of the reactive component of the furnace current is bypassed via
parallel tuning capacitor.
And due to the use of phase-controlled rectifier in the current-fed power supply
voltage notching problem arises. Here each phase rectifier device turns on before
the other phase device has commutated off causing momentarily L-L fault leading
to line voltage notching. Notching can lead to operating problems in equipment like
tripping of other power supplies.

Solutions to induction furnace power quality problems and to control


furnace harmonics and improve power factor:

Measurement and assessment method


Changes in furnace or power supply
Application of standards
Special operating procedures
Power conditioning

Pre-installation and post-installation planning and cerebration can be done to


prevent and solve power quality problems like harmonics generation, flicker in
light, and interaction with other foundry equipment.
Relative size of the plant with respect to the utility power source is assessed.
First a PCC point of common coupling is established and the short-circuit ratio
(SCR) is calculated as short- circuit power divided by average maximum demand
power. Then according to IEEE Standards the harmonic distortion limits and
current limits are recommended as per the relative size of the plant or its SCR.
All this information is used to determine the maximum size of the furnace. The
relative size of the furnace is the ratio of the allowed distortion percentage
divided by the expected percentage. And the allowed furnace size increases with
the increase in number of pulses of the power supply.
But since practically due to various reasons the actual furnace harmonics may
be higher than the predicted values, some series-balancing reactor or paralleltuned capacitor filter may be required to avoid violation of IEEE limits.