You are on page 1of 8


3 Motors and Generators

Sunday, 13 November 2016 9:19 PM

1. Motors use the effect of forces on current-carrying conductors in

magnetic fields
Force on current-carrying conductor
• A current-carrying wire in a magnetic field, magnitude of force on wire depends on:
○ Magnetic field strength ( ): as ↑, ↑
○ Current in wire ( ): as ↑, ↑
○ Length of current in field ( ): as ↑, ↑
○ Angle of current to field lines ( ): as ↑, ↑
• Force on current-carrying wire in a magnetic field given by:
The Motor Effect
• A conductor that is carrying an electric current and lies at an angle to a magnetic field
experiences a force
• The motor effect - the force experienced by a current-carrying conductor in an external
magnetic field
○ Due to interaction of magnetic fields
Currents in Parallel Wires
• Two parallel wires with currents: each current will experience a force from magnetic field of
other current
• Parallel currents (flowing in same • Antiparallel currents (flowing in
direction) attract each other opposite directions) repel each other

○ Where is force per length (N m-1)
○ Where
Force of Rotation
• Force that causes rotation is called torque ( )
• Torque is a turning force, involving a perpendicular force which acts at a distance from a
pivot point:
○ If force not perpendicular to lever arm, resolving force into vector components to find
perpendicular force gives:

Current Loop in Magnetic Field

• A coil of wire with a current is placed in a
magnetic field
• Forces acting on the coil:
○ On side AB: force acting downwards (using
right hand palm rule) → torque acting on it
causes it to rotate anti-clockwise about

Physics Page 1
causes it to rotate anti-clockwise about
central axis
○ On side CD: force acting upwards (using
right hand palm rule) → torque acting on it
also " "
○ Results in rotation of the coil
• If there are loops of wire:
○ Max torque: when coil B ( )
○ Intermediate torque: when coil at an angle to B ( )
○ Min torque: when coil B ( ),
DC Electric Motors
• Electric motors transform electrical energy to kinetic energy
• Features of electric motor can be classified as:
○ stator: the component(s) that remain stationary
(usually the magnets)
○ rotor: the component(s) that rotate (usually the

Main features:
• Magnets - provide magnetic field for motor effect
○ Can be either permanent magnets or electromagnets
○ Can be arranged to produce radial field → ensures coil B for larger range of positions →
more consistent rotation (also kept at maximum torque for longer)
• Armature - coils of wire placed in magnetic field
○ Provide current-carrying loop for motor effect
○ Usually wound around iron core to maximise motor effect (by intensifying magnetic
○ Multiple loops to increase motor effect, multiple coils to improve torque
• Commutator - required by most motors, without which armature would not turn completely
○ DC motors require a split ring commutator
▪ Allows constant current to be converted to circular motion
▪ Ring on shaft with two gaps allows reversal of polarity (direction of current),
maintains direction of torque → continuous rotation of motor in one direction
• Brushes - conduct current into and out of coil
○ Responsible for electrical contact with different sections of commutator during rotation
○ Usually made of graphite (good electrical conductor, provides good lubrication, good
thermal stability)
○ Springs apply slight pressure to maintain contact during rotation
• Current passes through coil → coil experiences a force inside radial magnetic field (due
to motor effect), begins to rotate
• As coil rotates, it stretches the spring, which then exerts torque that counteracts initial
torque created; stretched until equivalent to initial torque → coil stops rotating
• Degree of movement of coil indicated by pointer on scale (bigger forward toque → coil
rotates more → pointer attached to spring rotates more)
• Since and is constant, forward torque depends only on the current , thus
galvanometer can be used to measure current
• Electrical signal inputs to loudspeaker (in the form of AC) results in coil
(inside field of permanent magnets) experiencing a force due to motor
• AC signals vary in direction very rapidly, causes coil to move in and out
very rapidly; but since tightly wound around magnetic pole piece,
cannot move freely but vibrates, causing vibration of cone to produce
sound waves
• Increasing frequency of AC signals → increased pitch

Physics Page 2
• Increasing frequency of AC signals → increased pitch
• Increasing voltage/current → increased volume

2. The relative motion between a conductor and magnetic field is

used to generate an electrical voltage
Faraday's discovery of the generation of electric current by a moving magnet
• Can change magnetic field by moving magnets (magnetic field weakens away from magnet)
- Faraday moved magnets through coils of wire
• Moved magnet towards coil: produced current in wire (reading on galvanometer)
• Held magnet still: reading dropped to zero (no current measured)
• Moved magnet away from coil: produced current in wire in opposite direction (galvanometer
points to other side)
• Faster movements → greater currents
- Discovered a changing magnetic field induces current in a conductor (electromagnetic induction)
• Electromotive force (EMF) ( ) - electric potential that "drives" charge motion, but not an actual
force (units = Volts (V))
Magnetic Field Strength
• Magnetic field strength ( ) (or magnetic flux density) - number of field lines per unit area
(units: Tesla (T))
• Magnetic flux ( ) - number of field lines passing through a specified area (units: Weber (Wb))
○ ↑ ↑
○ ↑ ↑
• , (i.e. magnetic field strength = magnetic flux density)
• Magnetic flux is:
○ minimum ( ) when (A B)
○ maximum ( ) when (A B)
○ when
Faraday's Law of Induction
• An induced EMF is negatively • Magnitude affected by:
proportional to rate of change in ○ Size of change in magnetic field
magnetic flux ○ Change in area that magnetic field passes through
○ Speed of relative motion between magnetic field and conductor

Lenz's Law
• An induced EMF electromotive force (EMF) always gives rise to a current whose magnetic field
opposes the original change in magnetic flux
• Consider a magnet with north pole moving towards a conducting ring
○ Increasing through ring increases , inducing a current
○ If induced current is clockwise, corresponding further increases through ring,
inducing stronger I in ring → results in greater , inducing even stronger in ring →
infinitely large current (creating energy without doing any work)
○ This is not possible - does not conserve energy (energy cannot be created according to
○ Hence to obey LOCOE, induced current must flow in the direction which produces
opposing magnetic field which "cancels out" some of the magnet's magnetic energy (i.e.
anti-clockwise) → Lenz's Law
▪ Energy required to move magnet towards/away from coil (work must be done),
which is transformed into electrical energy in coil
Back EMF in motors
• When coil rotates in magnetic field of a motor, magnetic flux changes (due to changing area
that magnetic field passes through)
○ According to Lenz's Law, induces an EMF which opposes changing magnetic flux
○ EMF induced that opposes input EMF (back EMF), causing current to flow in opposite
direction to input current (also causes opposing motor force, decreasing torque of

Physics Page 3
○ When coil reaches max speed (constant speed of rotation), back EMF = input EMF (
• When DC motor turned on, coil takes time to reach max speed due to inertia
○ Initially, rotational speed is low → small back EMF (since rate of change in magnetic flux
is small), meaning very little opposition to input EMF
○ Drawback: larger current (without back EMF) may burn out coil when motor turned on
▪ As a result, starting resistance used to partially limit current, protecting coil from
burning out when turned on
Eddy Currents
• As solid conductor passes through magnetic field (relative motion between conductor and
magnetic field), induced EMF will cause loops of current to flow (eddy currents)
• The induced eddy currents flow in a way so that it produces magnetic field that opposes
original change in magnetic flux (interaction of magnetic fields causes force which opposes
motion of conductor through field)
- Induction cooktops
• When AC current flows through coil under cooktop, changing current produces constantly
changing magnetic field
• This magnetic field passes through ceramic cooktop and generates eddy currents within
saucepan's base
• Circulation of eddy currents generates heat (resistive heating), used to heat food content
• Advantages: efficient conversion of electrical to heat energy, no open fire (reduces possibility
of fire hazard), cooktop itself does not generate heat (burns less likely)
- Electromagnetic braking
• Rotating wheels in presence of magnetic field (between magnets) leads to production of eddy
currents, resulting in a force which opposes motion of the wheels → slows down wheel
(braking effect)
• Advantages: smooth braking effect, low maintenance (since no physical contact between
braking system and wheels)
• Disadvantages: only works with metal wheels and at higher speeds
3. Generators are used to provide large scale power production
Main components of a generator
• Magnets - provide magnetic field for electromagnetic induction (can be permanent magnets
or electromagnets)
• Armature - provides rotation of conducting loop within magnetic field
○ Multiple loops used to increase induced current
○ Wound around soft iron core to maximise induction
• Brushes - electrically connect rotating commutator to external circuit
Structure and function of generators compared to electric motors
• Both are structurally identical: have magnets, armature, commutator, brushes
• Differ in type of input energy and output energy:
○ Motors convert electrical energy to kinetic energy (using motor effect)
○ Generators convert kinetic energy to electrical energy (using electromagnetic induction)
Differences between AC and DC generators
• DC generators have split ring commutator (two conducting half-rings reverse output current
every half-rotation to provide DC current)
○ Single ring, split in half; has two brushes on either side
○ Current in coil changes direction every half-cycle → polarity of two parts of commutator
○ Gap allows brushes retain same polarity at all times → maintains same direction of
current in external circuit at all times (DC)

Physics Page 4
• AC generators have slip ring commutator (two separate rings that maintain constant
connection between coil and external circuit; do not reverse output current, providing AC
○ Two separate rings connected to each end of the wire coil on armature
○ Each ring has a brush to connect to external circuit
○ Current in coil changes direction every half-cycle → polarity of two parts of commutator
reverse → polarity of brushes reversed → generates current in external circuit varying
constantly in direction

Energy losses during energy transmission

• Electrical resistance is main source of energy loss in transmission lines: as current flows
through conductor that has resistance → resistive heating → heat dissipated → energy loss
(line loss)
• Power loss is best minimised by reducing current ( )
○ Using transformers to increase voltage and decrease current, to reduce energy losses
due to resistive heating
○ Transformers allow electricity to be transmitted over large distances with small energy
Advantages and disadvantages of AC and DC generators
• AC can be transformed, DC cannot:
○ AC can be transmitted over large distances with minimal energy losses, DC has expensive
energy losses
○ A single AC power supply can be used to meet different voltage requirements in
different appliances, while DC requires different transmission lines for different voltage
• Type of commutator:
○ DC requires split-ring commutator (complicates design, expensive construction), brushes
constantly striking edges of commutator (greater wear/tear → costly maintenance)
○ AC operates with slip ring commutator which maintains constant contact with brushes
(reliable, little maintenance required)
• Although most power stations use AC generators, AC is not absolutely superior to DC
○ Some devices rely solely on DC currents for their function; although AC can be converted
to DC, much more convenient/cost effective to produce DC directly using DC generators
○ Output of AC generators is 10 times more dangerous than equivalent DC output (AC's
conventional 50 Hz can readily cause heart fibrillation)
Effects of development of AC generators/transformers on society and environment
• AC can be distributed over large distances with minimal loss due to action of transformers (↑
→↓ →↓ )
Power stations can be situated long distances away from site of electricity consumption

Physics Page 5
○ Power stations can be situated long distances away from site of electricity consumption
→ decreased level of pollution in urban areas → decreased health issues of population
• Large scale power production rather than many small generators (more efficient, cheaper)
○ Less land used: less modification to landscape/disturbance to natural habitats
• Increased access to electricity leads to:
○ Faster communication → increased social interaction between people
○ Better/new medical equipment → better medical outcomes for patients, increased life
expectancy for population
• Transformers allow development of many appliances which run at different voltages → more
comfortable lives/leisure (entertainment from TV)
○ Domestic appliances for manual labour → decreased physical activity (→ health issues
like obesity)
Westinghouse vs Edison
• Thomas Edison was first person to set up business to supply electricity (1878), DC based
○ Installed light bulbs for homes then street lights (all running on DC) and developed DC
motors and other appliances that ran on DC
○ The commutator (used to give a DC output) proved to be a problem with high-speed,
stream-driven generators
○ Huge power losses in power lines forced Edison to set up power stations which could
only supply areas a few kilometres away, relied on thick copper cables to carry electric
current in order to reduce resistance of the lines
• George Westinghouse, seeing advantages of using AC for supplying to cities, purchased patent
of AC system from Nikola Tesla and opened up his own electronic company (1885) in order to
compete with Edison
○ System based on AC generators/transmission systems
• In 1886, competition to propose plans to build power plant using Niagara Falls to supply
electricity to distant cities (both Edison and Westinghouse participated)
○ Westinghouse proved high efficiency of AC system (transmission of AC over large
distances with only small energy losses through action of transformers), eventually won
○ Built his AC system at Niagara Falls few years later, confirming superiority of his system
over Edison's DC system
Protection/Insulation of Transmission Lines
• Protect from lightning strikes: another wire runs over and parallel to transmission wires,
connected to earth; does not carry current
○ In the case of lightning strikes, lightning will hit overhead wire first → huge current of
lightning diverted to earth, leaving transmission wires untouched
• To prevent sparks from jumping from transmission wires to metal support towers, wires must
be well-insulated
○ Suspending wires from towers by insulators consisting of stacks of disks made from
ceramic/porcelain (strong, retains insulation properties even under very high voltage)
4. Transformers allow generated voltage to be either increased or
decreased before it is used
Purpose of Transformers
• Used to change (transform) AC voltage between electrical circuits
• Used in electricity grid: essential to transmission of electricity around city, state, country
• Used in many household appliances; e.g. "old" cathode ray tube TV (high voltage),
computers/laptops (low voltage)
Step-up vs Step-down transformers
Step-up Step-down
No. of turns

Physics Page 6
Voltage Ratio

Law of Conservation of Energy

• From conservation of energy, all electrical energy is transferred from primary coil to secondary
coil (in ideal transformer)
• Energy cannot be created/destroyed: power (rate of supply of energy) must be conserved:
(i.e. if voltage is increased, current must be decreased)
Energy Loss in Core due to Eddy Currents
• In reality, transformers are not ideal (do not transfer 100% electrical energy between coils)
○ AC current in primary coil produces alternating magnetic field → constantly changing
magnetic flux, induces eddy currents in iron core (since solid conductor)
○ Circulation of eddy currents → energy lost as heat via resistive heating
• Minimise energy losses: reduce eddy currents whilst allowing magnetic flux to propagate
○ Laminated iron core: alternate layers of iron with thin non-conducting layers → only
small eddy currents can be produced, decreasing heat dissipation by the core, increasing
overall energy efficiency of transformer
Transformers for Transmission of Electricity (Electricity sub-stations)
1. Power plant generates electricity: 23 kV @ 50 Hz
2. Transformers used at power stations to step-up voltage, thereby stepping-down current to
allow efficient transmission (by reducing effect of resistive heating by decreasing current):
330-500 kV
3. Substation transformers convert high voltage back to low voltage (mainly for safety reasons)
for distribution to consumers: regional (132 kV)
4. Local substations step down voltage to smaller sizes to be used in industries/home: local (240
Household appliances
• Many household appliances function at voltages other than the standard domestic voltage of
240V, thus requiring transformers to adjust voltage for correct operation
• Laptop/mobile phone charger requires step-down transformer as it needs a low voltage for
correct operation as well as for safety reasons
• Cathode ray tube TV requires step-up transformer as it requires a high voltage for operation of
cathode ray tube
5. Motors are used in industries and the home usually to convert
electrical energy into more useful forms of energy
AC electric motor
• Functions like a DC motor (converts electrical energy to kinetic energy) but uses a slip-ring
• Same design as an AC generator but in reverse
• AC current causes brushes and two parts of commutator to constantly reverse in polarity,
allowing force on coil to change direction, enabling constant rotation of coil
AC induction motor
• Consist of stator (frame of motor provides external magnetic field for induction), rotor
(provides conducting material for torque)
• Three independent AC voltages out of phase by 120° to each other
• Each phase supply wrapped into solenoids around stator, coiling designed to form three pairs
of opposing poles
• As alternating currents phase in and out, poles rotate around rotor → changing flux induces
eddy currents → interaction of magnetic fields results in rotation (in same direction as
rotation of stator magnetic field)
- Squirrel-cage rotor: two end plates connected by several
conducting bars
• Rotation of magnetic field in stator → relative motion
between field and conducting bars → electromagnetic

Physics Page 7

Energy transformations in home/industry

• Light bulbs: electrical → light
• Fans, drills, blenders: electrical → kinetic
• Speakers, radio: electrical → sound
• Heater, oven, induction cooktops: electrical → heat
• Recharging batteries: electrical → chemical

Physics Page 8