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Figure 17.2 Commercial core tester exciting a motor stator core.


There are two versions of core testing which excite the core near to full rated flux. One
version is described in this section, and the other in Section 17.3. The test in Section
17.3 uses a commercial core tester (Figure 17.2) to create a magnetic flux in the core,
while the power used to excite the core to a specified flux is measured. This test is
normally used on the stator cores in smaller motors and generators. In contrast, the
core test described in this section uses a large power supply and a custom-designed
excitation winding. This test is primarily used on larger motors and generators and is
called the rated flux test. It is also called the ring flux, or loop test. The effect of the
flux is monitored using a thermal imaging camera.
The rated core flux test is the traditional method of determining the insulation
integrity of any type of a large laminated stator core. The test can assess the severity
of damage, locate the worst deterioration sites, detect hidden damage and, for any
type of damage, it provides information to indicate whether repair is required. The
major disadvantage of this test is that it requires machine disassembly and removal
of the rotor before it can be performed. It also requires a large power supply. As the
test is normally carried out at or near the rated back-of-core flux, it may aggravate an
existing problem if core temperatures are not carefully monitored.

17.2.1 Purpose and Theory

The equipment required for this test depends on the size of the core to be checked. For
small- and medium-size machines that can easily be transported to a motor service
center, a commercial core tester is normally used (see Section 17.3). On the other
hand, large generators have to be tested on-site using heavy cables and a local, large
50- or 60-Hz power supply.

Figure 17.3 Excitation winding made from insulated cable wound through a stator core.

This test is performed by installing an excitation winding around the stator core,
as illustrated in Figure 17.3. With a commercial core tester (Figure 17.2), this winding
normally consists of one or two turns of heavy cable, whereas, for large cores, the
number of turns and cable size will be much greater. The excitation winding must
have an appropriate number of turns and be insulated for the voltage to be applied
across its ends. The axial current that flows though the excitation winding will create a
circumferential flux in the back of the stator core. The voltage applied to the excitation
winding should generate enough current to produce a back-of-core flux that will give
approximately the rated operating flux density in the core area behind the winding
slots to induce normal axial voltages between laminations. If the turns/coils in a stator
core for a multiturn winding are not known, then the back-of-core flux density cannot
be calculated. In such situations, a flux density of 1.3 tesla (about 85,000 lines/in.2 )
as suggested in Reference 1 has been shown to give satisfactory test results.
When the axial current is applied to the excitation coil, any defective areas of
core or tooth insulation will show up as hot spots, that is, they will become signif-
icantly hotter than areas with healthy core plate insulation. Hot spots are created by
the axial currents that are induced between steel laminations with shorted core insu-
lation. If the insulation is good, then no axial current will flow between laminations,
and there will be no unusual temperature rise. The only source of heat with good
lamination insulation will then be the normal hysteresis and eddy current losses in
the steel itself.
Surface defects are indicated by hot areas of the core that become evident soon
after the application of the excitation current. On the other hand, in large cores, deep
defects may take more than 30 min to show as high temperatures on the observed
surfaces, because the surrounding healthy sections of core act as a heat sink.
This is the most appropriate test for determining the need to perform core
insulation repairs and for determining the effectiveness of repairs. For motors, it
is important to perform this test before burning out stator windings that are to be
17.2 RATED FLUX 443

replaced and after winding burnout to confirm that this winding removal process has
not caused significant core insulation deterioration. This test is often used to confirm
the seriousness of core defects detected by the El-CID test described in Section 17.4.

17.2.2 Test Method

For large machines that cannot be tested with a commercial device, guidelines on
the design of the excitation winding required to induce flux in the core are given in
IEEE Standard 432 [2]. A 50- or 60-Hz power supply of sufficient capacity is needed
to induce the required level of excitation in the core. If possible, the power supply
should have the capability of raising the excitation level gradually to avoid transients
that may damage the core lamination insulation during energization. Commercial
core tester excitation winding power supplies have this capability. For large machines
that have to be tested on-site, there is usually a 3.3- or 4.16-kV supply available from
the plant distribution system. Experience has shown this to be generally adequate for
testing most large machines such as turbogenerators and hydrogenerators. However,
a variable autotransformer of suitable rating is difficult to obtain for testing of large
turbine generators. Therefore, sudden application of the supply voltage to the core
excitation winding is often unavoidable for large stator core testing.
In order to establish the required current capacity of the supply, it is first nec-
essary to determine the excitation level needed to produce rated or near rated flux in
the stator core [3]. As indicated in Reference 4, this is calculated as follows.

Excitation Coil Requirements In order to test the stator core adequately, it is

necessary to magnetize the core at approximately its normal operating back-of-core
flux density.
The turns of the excitation coil should encircle the stator through the main
bore (after rotor is removed) and around the outer frame (Figure 17.4). A preferable

Supply current (ls)

Laminated core
under test Excitation winding Supply transformer


Search coil


VF Search coil voltage

Figure 17.4 Rated flux test setup for large generator.


return route, if available, is near the outside diameter of the core, within the frame.
On large diameter machines (such as waterwheel generators), the magnetizing coil
should be distributed around the periphery of the stator to ensure uniform flux distri-
bution around the entire core. A clearance of 830 cm should be maintained between
the magnetizing-coil conductor and solid metal (i.e., metal floor, stator frame, and
stator core).
A one-turn search coil is normally also passed through the stator bore to directly
measure the volts per turn (VPT) induced in the excitation coil (Figure 17.4). The
search coil should be made from a single turn of AWG 1218 wire insulated ade-
quately for the VPT applied, and it should be placed around the core, preferably
diametrically opposite from the excitation coil. The actual core flux density can be
measured by placing the search coil, so that it encircles only the core and does not
include the frame members. On some machines, this is not possible and the error
in measured flux density may or may not be acceptable. An alternative is to route
the search coil leads through the radial air vents, if present, and adjust the voltage
reading for the percentage of laminations not included in the search coil loop. A volt-
meter connected to the search coil should read approximately the volts-per-turn value
calculated as shown below.

Calculations The following factors can be used to convert the metric units used in
the equations below to imperial units:
1 tesla = 64516.0 line/in.2
1 m = 39.37 in.
The following calculations are performed in designing the test. VPT value for
the magnetizing coil and the search coil is given by

VPT = 4.44f (2) (17.1)

The flux/pole in webers is given by

= (17.2)
4.44 f Kd Kp ETP


VPT = volts (rms) per turn

Vpp = machine rated phase-to-phase voltage

Vpg = rated stator winding phase-to-ground voltage = Vpp 3
f = frequency in hertz
= peak-core flux/pole in webers
B = peak flux density in tesla (from manufacturer or by calculation)
Dsb = diameter of core at bottom of slot in meters
Dod = outside diameter of core in meters
NSS = number of stator slots
NP = number of stator winding poles
17.2 RATED FLUX 445

[ ]
Kp = sin (17.3)
Kd = (17.4)
q sin 30q

CP = number of slots pitched


q = slotspolephase = (17.5)
(NP 3)
NSS (turnscoil)
3(number of parallel circuitsphase)

The effective length of core (Leff ) should be obtained from the manufacturer. If
that is not possible, the value can be calculated as follows:
Leff = (cl Nv Bv )Fs (17.6)

cl = gross core length in meters

Nv = number of ventilation ducts
Bv = width of ventilation duct in meters
Fs = core stacking factor

The stacking factor is typically 0.95, and it allows for the lamination insulation
in the core.
In metric units, the equations for peak-core flux Q and back-of-core flux density
B are given by (Figure 17.5)

B= (17.7)
2 Leff Wy
[Dod Dsb )
Wy = (17.8)
From the known test supply voltage VT and the VPT value from (Equation
17.1), the number of turns for the excitation winding can be determined by direct
division, that is, turns = (VT VPT). The result should be rounded to the next higher
integer to obtain Nt , the actual coil turns. This number of turns in the excitation wind-
ing (Nt ) should be used in the first trial test. For example, if the calculated flux VPT
values were 1050 and VT is 4160 V, then Nt would be 4160/1050 = 3.96. For the test,
the number of turns would be four, as the turns have to be a whole number and four
turns would not over flux the core area behind the teeth. The excitation level in this
example would be about 99% of rated flux.



Core flux

Wy Figure 17.5 Dimensions for calculating

core area.

In order to determine the size of the cable necessary for the excitation winding,
data on ampere-turns per meter of mean back iron periphery corresponding to the
core flux densities will be required. The curve of ampere-turns per meter versus core
flux density in tesla should be obtained for the type of lamination material used in the
stator core to be tested (Figure 17.6), and the excitation winding current requirement
is given by:
It = [Dod Wy ] (17.9)
This is the magnetizing current. For a more accurate estimation of current
requirements, the watts loss current should be determined as well. These two
can then be added as vectors with 90 phase angle between them, Iexc = (It2 + Iw2 ).

It = magnetizing coil current in amperes

ATM = ampere-turns per meter from core steel BH curve using B from
Equation 17.7 (see example in Figure 17.6)
Nt = number of magnetizing coil turns

The current obtained from (Equation 17.9) can be used to calculate the approx-
imate minimum conductor area required for the magnetizing winding.
For small- to medium-size machines, the recommended back-of-core flux den-
sity for this test per IEEE 432 is 1.05 times the rated flux density value from Equation
17.7. For larger machines, such as turbine generators, values as low as 75% of rated
flux density may be used. Moreover, as indicated earlier, if the number of turns/coil
is not known, a back-of-core flux density B of 1.3 T can be used. The above formulae
can also be used to calculate the excitation requirements for the version of the core
test discussed in Section 17.3.
Practical considerations when setting up this test are as follows:
17.2 RATED FLUX 447

Typical B H curve for laminated

silicone steel core










0 0.25 0.5 0.75 1 1.25 1.5 1.75 2 2.25
Flux density (T)

Figure 17.6 Typical core steel BH curve. (Source: Derived from IEEE 432 information.)

The excitation winding should be a flexible cable suitably insulated and sized
for the supply voltage and expected current capacity. Where possible, the exci-
tation winding should be at the axis of the stator bore, but it is usually more
convenient to install it along the surface of the stator core bore and around the
outside of the stator frame (Figure 17.4).
The excitation winding should not obscure any areas of core having obvious
damage, and care should be taken to protect the core from damage when assem-
bling the excitation winding.
Installed stator core thermocouples or RTDs should also be monitored during
testing in addition to infrared scanning.
The power supply for large generator core tests is usually obtained using two
phases of an adequately sized three-phase 3.3- or 4.16-kV breaker. Breaker pro-
tection (over current and ground fault) should be used and properly calibrated
for the expected load. A remote breaker trip switch should be installed at the
test site to allow immediate shutdown of the excitation winding power supply
in the event of rapid core heat up due to shorted insulation.
The stator winding, if present, should be open circuited (to prevent induced
current flow) and grounded at one location (usually the neutral).

Figure 17.7 Thermal imaging

camera and special mirror to
monitor stator bore temperature in
a turbine generator stator core.

Note: When testing large turbine generators, care should be exercised as sig-
nificant voltages can be induced between laminations and high magnetic fields exist
in and around the core.
Commercial core testers have an on-board computer to calculate the current
required to test the core. They also have built-in instrumentation to monitor the volt-
age applied, the current drawn, and the power absorbed by the excitation winding and
core system.
Shorted laminations will create high temperatures when excited near full flux.
A thermal imaging camera (infrared scanner) is used to quickly survey the whole
core, detect the location of hot spots (areas with shorted laminations), and measure
actual core temperatures. A special infrared mirror with nonreflecting glass, which
is movable axially and rotatable, is inserted into the bore of long turbogenerator sta-
tors to better monitor developing hot spots with an infrared camera (Figure 17.7). For
motor stator core testing, it is also beneficial to measure the power absorbed by the
excitation winding, as described in Section 17.3. This is particularly relevant if pre-
vious power readings have been taken with the same induced core flux. A significant
increase in the absorbed power compared to previous readings indicates higher core
losses because of deterioration in core lamination insulation.
It is recommended that unless severe damage is detected, the duration of this
test should be at least 30 min for small- and medium-size machines and up to 2 h for
large machine cores, with temperature measurements taken every 15 min. This will
ensure that deep-seated core faults are detected. The ambient air temperature should
17.2 RATED FLUX 449

Figure 17.8 Thermographic image of core with damaged core insulation indicated by dark

also be monitored to allow a comparison between it and core temperatures. When

large generator cores with embedded thermocouples are being tested, it is advisable
to also monitor the temperatures indicated by these sensors as they may help confirm
the presence of good or poor core insulation. With the full flux test, it is necessary to
allow time for the core to cool down before the test can be repeated.
Caution is needed not to apply a full flux test without comprehensive thermal
monitoring. Because the core is not being rapidly cooled by forced air or hydrogen
during the test, thermal runaway causing melted steel laminations is possible!

17.2.3 Interpretation
The main result from the full flux test is the core temperature rise at any location with
shorted laminations. Core temperatures should be monitored with a thermal imag-
ing camera (Figure 17.8) from the instant the test flux is applied. This is necessary
because the rate of temperature rise in areas of the core with damaged insulation can
give a good indication of their location. If the fault is near the core surface, hot spots
will appear rapidly, whereas deep-seated damage will be indicated by a more gradual
increase in temperature.
Most cores with healthy insulation will still have areas that are a few degrees
above the average core temperatures obtained from this test. These are due to flux
concentrations. Consequently, insulation damage is not likely unless hotspot temper-
atures are at least 10 C above the coolest areas of the core for motors and 5 C for large
generators [10]. Hotspot temperature of up to 15 C above ambient core temperature
may be acceptable if attempts to remove local core insulation shorting are unsuc-
cessful. A general core temperature rise of more than 20 C may indicate widespread
core insulation degradation. Cores with this characteristic should be more frequently
tested because the condition could deteriorate with time, requiring corrective

For motors and small generators sent to service centers for refurbishment and
repair, this test should be performed on every stator core at the following stages of a
a) Before removal of a stator winding to allow its replacement
b) After stator winding removal especially if a oven burnout procedure has been
used to aid this
c) After any stator core repairs
For large turbogenerator and hydrogenerator stators, this test is advisable
to check the condition of the stator core insulation before installing a new stator
winding in it.


Commercial core loss testers (Figure 17.2) tend to be used for the smaller cores in
motors and generators that are easily transported to a service center. Areas with defec-
tive core lamination insulation will require more power from the power core tester
power supply than good cores. Thus, this version of the core loss test measures the
power to the core in watts. Interpretation is then based on the watts loss per kilogram
of core.

17.3.1 Purpose and Theory

This version of the core loss test gives an indication of the general condition of the
core insulation, and, for a given core, the higher the losses per mass of core are, the
poorer will be the condition. As core insulation condition deteriorates, the currents
that flow between the laminations increase, thereby increasing the amount of power
needed to reach a certain flux level. The results can also be trended over time. If
the power loss increases for the same excitation winding configuration and applied
voltage, then more lamination insulation is defective. It is also useful to perform this
test before and after winding burnouts (Section 13.1) to detect any significant core
insulation deterioration due to the burnout.

17.3.2 Test Method

The test setups for different sizes of machines are the same as those described in
Section 17.2.2, except there is usually no search coil. As indicated in Figure 17.9,
a wattmeter measurement is already incorporated in commercial core testers. If the
core excitation winding system described in Section 17.2 is used, then a wattmeter is
required to measure the loss. The wattmeter must be connected into the current and
voltage transformers used to obtain current and voltage readings (Figure 17.9). The
mass of the core should be known or measured.

17.3.3 Interpretation
For small- and medium-size motor and generator stators: