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applied to resistor, R. This voltage will cause a

current to flow which in turn will rise and fall as the

applied voltage rises and falls sinusoidally. As the

load is a resistance, the current and voltage will both

reach their maximum or peak values and fall

through zero at exactly the same time, i.e. they rise

and fall simultaneously and are therefore said to be in-phase.

Then the electrical current that flows through an AC resistance varies sinusoidally with time and is

represented by the expression, I (t) = Im x sin (t + ), where Im is the maximum amplitude of the current

and is its phase angle. In addition we can also say that for any given current, i flowing through the resistor

the maximum or peak voltage across the terminals of R will be given by Ohms Law as:

So for a purely resistive circuit the alternating current flowing through the resistor varies in proportion to

the applied voltage across it following the same sinusoidal pattern. As the supply frequency is common to

both the voltage and current, their phasors will also be common resulting in the current being in-phase

with the voltage, ( = 0).

In other words, there is no phase difference between the current and the voltage when using an AC

resistance as the current will achieve its maximum, minimum and zero values whenever the voltage reaches

its maximum, minimum and zero values as shown below.

a phasor diagram. In the complex domain,

resistance is a real number only meaning that

there is no j or imaginary component.

Therefore, as the voltage and current are both in-

phase with each other, as there is no phase

difference ( = 0), so the vectors of each quantity

are drawn super-imposed upon one another along

the same reference axis. The transformation from

the sinusoidal time-domain into the phasor-

domain is given as.

current quantities unlike a vector which represents the

peak or maximum values, dividing the peak value of the

time-domain expressions above by 2.

AC Inductance with a Sinusoidal Supply

This simple circuit above consists of a pure

inductance of L Henries (H), connected across a

sinusoidal voltage given by the expression:

V (t) = Vmax sin t.

When the switch is closed this sinusoidal voltage will

cause a current to flow and rise from zero to its

maximum value. This rise or change in the current

will induce a magnetic field within the coil which in turn will oppose or restrict this change in the current.

But before the current has had time to reach its maximum value as it would in a DC circuit, the voltage

changes polarity causing the current to change direction. This change in the other direction once again being

delayed by the self-induced back e.m.f in the coil, and in a circuit containing a pure inductance only, the

current is delayed by 90o.

The applied voltage reaches its maximum positive value a quarter ( 1/4 ) of a cycle earlier than the current

reaches its maximum positive value, in other words, a voltage applied to a purely inductive circuit LEADS

the current by a quarter of a cycle or 90o as shown below.

This effect can also be represented by a

phasor diagram were in a purely inductive

circuit the voltage LEADS the current by

90o. But by using the voltage as our

reference, we can also say that the current

LAGS the voltage by one quarter of a cycle

or 90o as shown in the vector diagram

below.

So for a pure loss less inductor, VL leads IL by 90 o, or we can say

that IL lags VL by 90o.

There are many different ways to remember the phase relationship

between the voltage and current flowing through a pure inductor

circuit, but one very simple and easy to remember way is to use the

mnemonic expression ELI (pronounced Ellie as in the girls name).

ELI stands for Electromotive force first in an AC inductance, L before

the current I. In other words, voltage before the current in an

inductor, E, L, I equals ELI, and whichever phase angle the voltage

starts at, this expression always holds true for a pure inductor circuit.

AC Capacitance with a Sinusoidal Supply

will start to flow into the capacitor as there is no charge on

the plates at t = 0. The sinusoidal supply voltage, V is

increasing in a positive direction at its maximum rate as it

crosses the zero reference axis at an instant in time given as

0o. Since the rate of change of the potential difference

across the plates is now at its maximum value, the flow of

current into the capacitor will also be at its maximum rate as

the maximum amount of electrons are moving from one

plate to the other.

As the sinusoidal supply voltage reaches its 90o point on the waveform it begins to slow down and for a very

brief instant in time the potential difference across the plates is neither increasing nor decreasing therefore

the current decreases to zero as there is no rate of voltage change. At this 90o point the potential difference

across the capacitor is at its maximum (Vmax), no current flows into the capacitor as the capacitor is now

fully charged and its plates saturated with electrons.

At the end of this instant in time the supply voltage begins to decrease in a negative direction down towards

the zero reference line at 180o. Although the supply voltage is still positive in nature the capacitor starts to

discharge some of its excess electrons on its plates in an effort to maintain a constant voltage. This results

in the capacitor current flowing in the opposite or negative direction.

When the supply voltage waveform crosses the zero reference axis point at instant 180o, the rate of change

or slope of the sinusoidal supply voltage is at its maximum but in a negative direction, consequently the

current flowing into the capacitor is also at its maximum rate at that instant. Also at this 180o point the

potential difference across the plates is zero as the amount of charge is equally distributed between the two

plates.

Then during this first half cycle 0o to 180o, the applied voltage reaches its maximum positive value a quarter

(1/4) of a cycle after the current reaches its maximum positive value, in other words, a voltage applied to a

purely capacitive circuit LAGS the current by a quarter of a cycle or 90o as shown below.

360o, the supply voltage reverses

direction and heads towards its negative

peak value at 270o. At this point the

potential difference across the plates is

neither decreasing nor increasing and the

current decreases to zero. The potential

difference across the capacitor is at its

maximum negative value, no current

flows into the capacitor and it becomes

fully charged the same as at its 90o point

but in the opposite direction.

As the negative supply voltage begins to increase in a positive direction towards the 360o point on the zero

reference line, the fully charged capacitor must now loose some of its excess electrons to maintain a constant

voltage as before and starts to discharge itself until the supply voltage reaches zero at 360o at which the

process of charging and discharging starts over again.

From the voltage and current waveforms and description above, we can see that the current is always

leading the voltage by 1/4 of a cycle or /2 = 90o out-of-phase with the potential difference across the

capacitor because of this charging and discharging process. Then the phase relationship between the voltage

and current in an AC capacitance circuit is the exact opposite to that of an AC Inductance we saw in the

previous tutorial.

This effect can also be represented by a phasor diagram where in a purely capacitive circuit the voltage

LAGS the current by 90o. But by using the voltage as our reference, we can also say that the current

LEADS the voltage by one quarter of a cycle or 90o as shown in the vector diagram below.

So for a pure capacitor, VC lags IC by 90o, or we can say that IC

leads VC by 90o.

between the voltage and current flowing in a pure AC capacitance

circuit, but one very simple and easy to remember way is to use the

mnemonic expression called ICE. ICE stands for current I first in

an AC capacitance, C before Electromotive force. In other words,

current before the voltage in a capacitor, I, C, E equals ICE, and

whichever phase angle the voltage starts at, this expression always

holds true for a pure AC capacitance circuit.

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