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by M. G. Payne

When a standby generator set is called on to (3000 rev/min) motors need approximately 50% more
take over the mains supply, it will probably time to reach rated speed.
have to restart motors that have decelerated The inertia and dynamic characteristics of the load
or stopped during the 10-15 s the standby set affect the starting time, and it may be as long as 4 s, but
takes to run up. But standby sets have higher seldom longer. Where the load is a reciprocating
impedances than the mains, so how do you machine, e.g. a piston pump or compressor, a relief
decide on an economically sized generator, device is usually used to minimise starting time and
of standard build, compatible with an accept- lord torque. Typical torque relationships are shown in
able voltage dip during starting? Fig. 2b.
In installations with large numbers of motors, e.g. pet- The difference between motor torque and load tor-
rochemical works, the methods used for starting que is the torque available for acceleration. At any
motors and the sequence of starting depend on the moment, the rate of acceleration is proportional to the
parameters of the main supply system. When that sup- accelerating torque and inversely proportional to the
ply fails, it is necessary to supply essential motors, to inertia of the load. Ample accelerating torque must be
ensure a safe shutdown of the process, from an available to maintain an acceptable start time. If the
emergency generator set or sets. That set has a rela- start time is prolonged, the high internal losses occur-
tively high impedance compared with the main supply, ing during that period may result in an unacceptable
and the starting currents of the motors will result in temperature rise within the machine.
voltage dips.
Starting characteristics (main supply): In the equi- Starting on generator supply
valent circuit of the squirrel-cage induction motor (Fig.
1), rotor resistance varies from R.2 at standstill to infin- The foregoing characteristics will be generally simi-
ity on overload when s = 1 and 0, respectively. When a lar when the motor is started on a diesel-generator set.
constant voltage from a zero impedance supply is However, compared with the mains supply, the diesel
applied to the stator terminals, a family of curves (Figs. generator set has a relatively high impedance. This
2a and b) can be derived, showing how load and torque results in a voltage drop on application of the starting
vary from standstill to sychronous speed for a four- load with a directly proportional reduction in current.
pole motor. The starting torque is decreased proportionally to the
Because the supply voltage is constant, the kVA square of the voltage. The difference between the load
requirement is directly proportional to the current. torque and the starting torque is the torque available
The starting current (and kVA) is seen to be about six for acceleration, and this may be so decreased that the
times the rated value, with the current (and kVA) not machine either does not accelerate or does so slowly
diminishing appreciably until 0-6 full speed with resultant overheating.
(900 rev/min) is reached. The variation in terminal voltage after application of
The ratio of starting current to rated current full load to a generator with constant excitation is
depends on detail designs and varied with size. Typical shown in Fig. 3. This variation is best understood by
ratios are shown in Table 1, although some designs examining the curve in Fig. 3 in three stages. On appli-
may be as low as 4-5 and others as high as 9. cation of load, there is an immediate reduction in vol-
The power factor on starting is typically 0-3 to 0-4, tage (a). The magnitude of this reduction is approxi-
but is sometimes as low as 0-2 with some designs. It mately equal to the substransient reactance of the
peaks and then falls slightly as operating speed is generator, typically in the range 10-18%.
reached, and the power during starting is the product The second stage (b) shows a continued rapid reduc-
of the kVA and power factor. The peak-power tion to give a total voltage drop approximately equal to
requirement occurs at about 0-8 full speed the transient reactance. The subtransient time constant
(1200 rev/min), and it can be from 3 to 3-5 times the controls the rate or reduction in stage (b) when eddy
nameplate power rating. For integral-horse-power currents in the pole face and damper windings decay
motors, the full-load operating power factor is 0-8 to rapidly.
0:9. Generally, the higher the rated output, the higher
the power factor. Maurice Payne is technical manager with Dawson-
Typical loaded-starting times for 4-pole Keith Electric LQTD., PO Box 14, DeeKay House,
(1500 rev/min) motors are shown in Table 2; 2-pole North Street, Havant, Hants. PO9 1QH, England

Table 1 Ratios of starting current to rated current Table 2 Typical loaded-

starting times tor
4-pole motors

Table 3. Squirrei-cage induction motors in a typical petrochemical plant

Table 4. Power factors for cage induction motors

Table 5. Capacity check table


The transient time constant controls the rate of the

final stage of reduction to a new steady-state voltage.
A closed-loop automatic-voltage-regulator (a.v.r.)
system responds quickly and brings the voltage back to
normal with a few cycles. However, it cannot stop the
first two stages of voltage reduction. Typically, restora-
tion to within 3% of the original value takes 0-3 ms.
The response curve using an a.v.r. is shown in Fig. 4
For practical purposes, it can be taken that the voltage
dip is proportional to the applied kVA load and is
largely independent of the existing running load. Fig. 5
shows a typical curve of voltage dip against applied
load for machines of from 400 to 500 kVA.
1 Equivalent circuit of the squirrel-cage Induction motor
How much dip is acceptable? If the voltage dip on xo magnetising reactance
motor starting is 20%, the motor torque is decreased to xi stator leakage reactance
64%, i.e. as the square of the 80% voltage. This reduc- Ri stator resistance
tion is generally acceptable, and consultations with X2 rotor reactance at standstill
motor manufacturers on particular applications may R2 resistance at standstill
relax the allowable voltage dip to 25%. However, S per unit slip
where other loads are connected to the motor, these
may well dictate the acceptable voltage limit.
Electromagnetic devices drop out at from 25 to 30%
below nominal. At 40% below nominal voltage,
fluorescent lamps may go out and tungsten lamps dim
appreciably. If computers and other electronic loads
are connected, a dip of 10 % may be too much. Typical-
ly, a telecommunication company specifies a 10% dip,
a petrochemical contractor specifies 15% and a rock-
crusher manufacturer specifies 25 %.
When particularly sensitive electronic equipment
and motor loads have to be supplied from a standby
generator, e.g. a computer installation with air condi-
tioning, consideration should be given to using an
inverter for the 'electronics'.

Case study
The standby generator specified must be capable of
supplying both steady state and transient loads without
exceeding its designed frame overload capacity or pro-
ducing a dangerously depressed voltage. A typical
petrochemical plant at 380 V has the direct-online
(d.o.l)-start, squirrel-cage inducation motors detailed
in Table 3, which are essential to maintaining the via-
bility of the process. The total load of the plant is much
larger, and these motors, together with 63 kW at 0-8
power factor of lighting, are the minimum necessary
for a controlled shutdown in the event of mains-supply
On an existing installation, the nameplate of the
motor will divulge full-load power, efficiency, power
factor and starting current. The starting kVA can be
determined from the starting current. The running
power requirement is given by the operating load
divided by motor efficiency. If the operation load is not
known, it is best to assume the motor is operating at full
load. The running kVA is given by the running power
divided by the power factor, which varied appreciably
with operating load, typically as shown in Table 4.
On a mains failure* all the motors in Table 3 decel-
erate and probably stop during the 10 to 15 seconds it
takes the standby generator to start and come up to its
operating voltage and frequency. To start them simul-
taneously would need a generator of someMVA capac-
ity. Clearly, this size is uneconomical when the running
load is relatively small and has to be decreased by
applying the load in sequence. The process itself
imposed restrictions on the start sequence and the load
could only be split into the four stages shown in Table
The starting and running kVA are determined for each
stage with a factor of six assumed for the relationship
between running and starting current. Hence,
Stage 1: starting kVA = 3 x 380 V x 6 (30 + 22-5 +
11 + 11 + 61 + 6 + 13) A + (60/0-8) kW
= 686 kVA
runningkVA = / 3 x 380 V x (30 + 22-5 + 11 + 11 +
61 + 6 + 13) A + (63/0-8) kW
= 181 kVA
stage 2: starting = 486 kVA
running = 82 kVA
stage 3: starting = 614 kVA
running = 102 kVA
stage 4: starting = 205 kVA
running = 34 kVA
total: running kVA = 399 kVA

The highest starting load occurs in stage 1 and is 686 kVA.

The voltage dip caused by this load application would be
the same wherever it occurred in the sequence regardless of
existing load, and the only justification for trying to start the
largest loads first is that the frame overload capacity is less
likely to be exceeded.
The process operator stipulated a maximum voltage dip
3 Variation of generator voltage after application of full of 16 % at the motor terminals. As some motors are 200 m
load with constant excitation from the generator and voltage drops would occur in the
cables it was decided to aim for a 13-14% dip at the
generator terminals.

First estimate
Given the highest starting load and the acceptable vol-
tage dip, the first estimate of the generator size can be
made. From Fig. 5 it can be seen that, for a voltage dip of
13-14% when applying 686 kVA, a frame capacity of
(686/0-65) kVA is needed, i.e. 1055 kVA. This capacity
requirement is Still relatively expensive and further
methods of decreasing it are needed.
One method is to use a generator with a low reactance
that would have an inherently lower voltage-dip charac-
teristic. Alternatively, the frame size of the generator could
4 Variation of generator voltage after application of full be very large compared with the power output of the
load with automatic voltage regulator engine. Both solutions are relatively expensive and give a
hybrid set with limitation on subsequent load growth and a
very low resale value. The solution used in this case was to
change the largest motors in the groups to star-delta start-
ing, with a starting kVA of 2-5 times the running kVA. (In
this case, the motors did not require high starting torques;
therefore star-delta starting was suitable.)

This resulted in the following:

stage 1: starting : 334 kVA

running = 181 kVA
stage 2: starting : 210 kVA
running = 82 kVA
stage 3: starting : 244 kVA
running = 102 kVA
stage 4: starting : 200 kVA
running = 34 kVA

With the new starting figures, it can be seen that, for a

13-14% voltage dip from the curve in Fig. 5, a frame
capacity is needed of 334/0-65, i.e. 514 kVA.
Therefore a generator of say 520 kVA will probably
suffice, but a check has to be made to ensure the
overload capacity of the machine is not exceeded at
any stage (Table 5). Typically, the overload capacity
will be twice the fullload rating of the machine for a
period of 10 s.
At no stage does the total kVA load on the machine
exceed the overload capacity available. Thus the
chosen generator is rated at 520 kVA and an engine to
drive it has to be chosen.
Engine sizing: Estimating the maximum power
demand during the starting periods is difficult as the
power factor is seldom available. Motor manufac-
turer's figures vary from 0-35 to 0-5. To be safe, I
always work with the worse figures of 0-5, and a
theoretical analysis justifies this.
A squirrel-cage motor is designed to develop a high
5 3-phase voltage dips. Curves supplied by a generator torque the breakdown torque when the speed has
manufacturer risen to within about 2 0 % of full speed. Motor stan-

dards dictate that the breakdown torque should be at

least 1-6 times the rated torque, and, in practice, it is
usually in excess of two times rated torque, so that, at
about 80% full speed, the power developed in the
motor will approach the rated power times per unit
breakdown torque. The power requirement can be
higher, since the substantial internal losses occurring at
this speed can result in an efficiency less than that at
full speed.
The engine will experience a transient load,
although this is seldom seen as a marked reduction in
speed since the system inertia is normally sufficient to
carry it through this point. The engine has a 10%
overload capacity dictated by British Standards and is Shell's Brent ' C platform's float-out is powered by four
dependent on the permissible temperature rise. 460 kVA Dawson-Keith diesel-generator sets. The sets
The power factor of 0-5 on starting has been found to can be automatically paralleled and supply four 150 kW
be acceptable although slip-ring motors may have a pump motors for ballasting and trimming duties. All
motors start d.o.l., and the 35% transient voltage dip
starting power factor up to 0-8. Maximum power/load recovers to within 10% of nominal voltage in less than
occurs in stage 4 and is the sum of the running power 0 5s
divided by generator efficiency.

i.e. maximum power=

(365 x 0-8 + 200 x ,0-5)/0-93
= 421 kW
The engine net output in accordance with BS649
must therefore exceed 421 kW at the operating speed
and after derating for the ambient conditions. So, to
meet the motor starting needs of that particular plant,
it was necessary to use a generator with a minimum
capacity of 514 kVA and an engine with minimum
output of 421 kW.