A performance study of a voltage-fed reluctance synchronous machine
The reluctance synchronous machine (RSM) operates on the principle of magnetic reluctance, which is produced through a careful selection of rotor flux barriers and cut-outs. Magnetic reluctivity is the resistance to magnetic flux and can be directly related to the principles of Ohm’s law in electrical circuits. Although reluctance motors have been known for more than 150 years, researchers lost interest when Nikola Tesla’s induction machine (IM) was introduced to industry. Over the last few decades, however, RSMs have shown a lot of potential. They are cheap, robust, reliable, and their rotors can also be used in the stators of IMs. The disadvantage of these machines is an inherently high torque ripple, being the result of its rotor geometry, but the biggest advantage is having a significant reduction in copper losses after the rotor cage has been removed. This advantage drove engineers to investigate, optimise and modify the performance and structure of this machine, which led to the usage of electronic drive systems. The recent advances in technology have allowed researchers to further investigate and modify the design and performance of this special type of machine, with the integration of Finite Element Analysis (FEA) software also making a contribution to the development of the RSM’s current driven systems. The voltage-fed RSM, driven direct-on-line (DOL) from the utility supply, was left in the shadows as the current-fed RSM took reign, but still is, in the author’s opinion, not yet fully analysed. This thesis practically investigates the performance characteristics of the cageless, voltage-fed 3kW RSM in its steady-state operation, under various loads. These performance characteristics are also compared to a RSM driven from a sensorless vector drive (current-fed) to investigate the advantages and disadvantages between the two. Experiments performed on the test bench immediately reveal a limitation to the voltage-fed RSM’s ability to drive higher loads. While the current-fed RSM conveniently reaches 150% of its full-load, the voltage-fed RSM, due to its cageless structure, only reaches 110% of its full-load power. Despite this discovery, the voltage-fed RSM proves to have a lower core loss, harmonic content and torque ripple. Using a FE software package with an integrated source-code, additional parameters such as the dq-axis inductances and currents are also compared and analysed in terms of its reaction to an increase in load. The eddy-current, hysteresis and excess losses are also analysed as well as the harmonic components caused by the geometry of the RSM. For academic purposes, a fair amount of emphasis is placed on the approach to the problem. The preparation for the FE simulation is explained in detail, providing insight into the FE mathematical model as well as parameter acquisition. These parameters include current angle, friction and windage losses, stator resistance, end-winding leakage reactance, core loss and inertia. The results obtained by the FE model are compared to that of the measured results and is found to have an error of only 0.52%. Furthermore, this study attempts to find the feasibility of the voltage-fed RSM’s practicality in modern-day industry. The conclusion is drawn that the voltage-fed RSM could be used as a more elegant alternative to an otherwise over-complicated and over-priced installation.