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Armature Reaction in DC Generator:

In this post, we shall discuss the various aspects of armature reaction and commutation in a dc generator.In a dc generator, the purpose of field winding is to produce a magnetic field (called main flux) whereas the purpose of armature winding is to carry armature current.Although the armature winding is not provided for the purpose of producing a magnetic field, nevertheless the current in the armature winding will also produce magnetic flux (called armature flux).The armature flux distorts and weakens the main flux posing problems for the proper operation of the d.c. generator.The action of armature flux on the main flux is called armature reaction.It was hinted that current in the coil is reversed as the coil passes a brush. This phenomenon is termed as commutation.The criterion for good commutation is that it should be sparkless.In order to have sparkless commutation, the brushes should lie along the magnetic neutral axis.
            So far we have assumed that the only flux acting in a d.c machine is that due to the main poles called main flux. However, the current flowing through armature conductors also create a magnetic flux (called armature flux) that distorts and weakens the flux coming from the poles.This distortion and field weakening takes place in both generators and motors. The action of armature flux on the main flux is known as armature reaction.The phenomenon of armature reaction in a d.c generator is shown in Fig. (2.1).Only one pole is shown for clarity. When the generator is on no-load, a small current flowing in the armature does not appreciably affect the main flux f1 coming from the pole [See Fig 2.1 (i)]. When the generator is loaded, the current flowing through armature conductors sets up flux f1. Fig. (2.1) (ii) shows flux due to armature current alone. By superimposing f1 and f2, we obtain the resulting flux f3 as shown in Fig. (2.1) (iii). Referring to Fig (2.1) (iii), it is clear that flux density at; the trailing pole tip (point B) is increased while at the leading pole tip (point A) it is decreased.This unequal field distribution produces the following two effects:

(i) The main flux is distorted.

(ii) Due to higher flux density at pole tip B, saturation sets in. 

          Consequently, the increase in flux at pole tip B is less than the decrease in flux under pole tip A. Flux f3 at full load is, therefore, less than flux f1 at no load.As we shall see, the weakening of flux due to armature reaction depends
upon the position of brushes.

                 Armature Reaction in D.C Generator

Geometrical and Magnetic Neutral Axes in DC Generator:             

(i) The geometrical neutral axis (G.N.A.) is the axis that bisects the angle between the centre line of adjacent poles.Clearly, it is the axis of symmetry between two adjacent poles.

(ii) The magnetic neutral axis (M. N. A.) is the axis drawn perpendicular to the mean direction of the flux passing through the centre of the armature.Clearly, no e.m.f. is produced in the armature conductors along this axis because then they cut no flux.With no current in the armature conductors, the M.N.A. coincides with G, N. A. as shown in Fig. (2.2).
                Armature Reaction in D.C Generator
(iii). In order to achieve sparkless commutation, the brushes must lie along M.N.A.

Armature Reaction Explanation:

       With no current in armature conductors, the M.N.A. coincides with G.N.A.However, when current flows in armature conductors, the combined action of main flux and armature flux shifts the M.N.A. from G.N.A. In case of a generator, the M.N.A. is shifted in the direction of rotation of the machine.In order to achieve sparkless commutation, the brushes have to be moved along the new M.N.A.Under such a condition, the armature reaction produces the following two effects:

1. It demagnetizes or weakens the main flux.

2. It cross-magnetizes or distorts the main flux.

Let us discuss these effects of armature reaction by considering a 2-pole generator (though the following remarks also hold good for a multipolar generator).

(i) Fig. (2.3) (i) shows the flux due to main poles (main flux) when the armature conductors carry no current. The flux across the air gap is uniform.The m.m.f. producing the main flux is represented in magnitude and direction by the vector OFm in Fig. (2.3) (i). Note that OFm is perpendicular to G.N.A.

(ii) Fig. (2.3) (ii) shows the flux due to the current flowing in armature conductors alone (main poles un-excited). The armature conductors to the left of G.N.A. carry current “in” (´) and those to the right carry current “out” (•). The direction of magnetic lines of force can be found by cork screw rule. It is clear that armature flux is directed downward parallel to the brush axis. The m.m.f. producing the armature flux is represented in magnitude and direction by the vector OFA in Fig. (2.3) (ii).

(iii) Fig. (2.3) (iii) shows the flux due to the main poles and that due to the current in armature conductors acting together. The resultant m.m.f. OF is the vector sum of OFm and OFA as shown in Fig. (2.3) (iii).Since M.N.A. is always perpendicular to the resultant m.m.f., the M.N.A. is shifted through an angle q. Note that M.N.A. is shifted in the direction of rotation of the generator.

(iv) In order to achieve sparkless commutation, the brushes must lie along the M.N.A. Consequently, the brushes are shifted through an angle q so as to lie along the new M.N.A. as shown in Fig. (2.3) (iv). Due to brush shift, the m.m.f. FA of the armature is also rotated through the same angle q. It is because some of the conductors which were earlier under N-pole now come under S-pole and vice-versa. The result is that armature m.m.f. FA will no longer be vertically downward but will be rotated in the direction of rotation through an angle q as shown in Fig.(2.3) (iv). Now FA can be resolved into rectangular components Fc and Fd.
Armature Reaction in D.C Generator
                             Armature Reaction in DC Generator                              
(a) The component Fd is in direct opposition to the m.m.f. OFm due to main poles. It has a demagnetizing effect on the flux due to main poles.For this reason, it is called the demagnetizing or weakening component of armature reaction.

(b) The component Fc is at right angles to the m.m.f. OFm due to main poles.It distorts the main field. For this reason, it is called the cross magnetizing or distorting component of armature reaction.It may be noted that with the increase of armature current, both demagnetizing and distorting effects will increase.


(i) With brushes located along G.N.A. (i.e., q = 0°), there is no demagnetizing
component of armature reaction (Fd = 0). There is only distorting or cross magnetizing effect of armature reaction.

(ii) With the brushes shifted from G.N.A., armature reaction will have both demagnetizing and distorting effects. Their relative magnitudes depend on
the amount of shift. This shift is directly proportional to the armature current.

(iii) The demagnetizing component of armature reaction weakens the main flux.
On the other hand, the distorting component of armature reaction distorts the main flux.

(iv) The demagnetizing effect leads to reduced generated voltage while cross magnetising effect leads to sparking at the brushes.

Demagnetizing and Cross-Magnetizing Conductors:

            With the brushes in the G.N.A. position, there is only cross-magnetizing effect of armature reaction. However, when the brushes are shifted from the G.N.A. position, the armature reaction will have both demagnetizing and cross magnetizing effects.Consider a 2-pole generator with brushes shifted (lead) 0m mechanical degrees from G.N.A. We shall identify the armature conductors that produce a demagnetizing effect and those that produce cross-magnetizing effect.

(i) The armature conductors qm on either side of G.N.A. produce flux in direct opposition to main flux as shown in Fig. (2.4) (i). Thus the conductors lying within angles AOC = BOD = 20m at the top and bottom of the armature produce demagnetizing effect. These are called demagnetizing armature conductors and constitute the demagnetizing ampere-turns of armature reaction (Remember two conductors constitute a turn).
Armature Reaction in D.C Generator
Armature Reaction in DC Generator
(ii) The axis of magnetization of the remaining armature conductors lying between angles AOD and COB is at right angles to the main flux as shown
in Fig. (2.4) (ii). These conductors produce the cross-magnetizing (or distorting) effect i.e., they produce uneven flux distribution on each pole.Therefore, they are called cross-magnetizing conductors and constitute the cross-magnetizing ampere-turns of armature reaction.
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