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In dc generators, as in most electrical devices, certain forces act to decrease the efficiency. These forces, as they affect the armature, are considered as losses and may be defined as follows:

1. I2R, or copper loss in the winding

2. Eddy current loss in the core

3. Hysteresis loss (a sort of magnetic friction)

Copper Losses

The power lost in the form of heat in the armature winding of a generator is known as COPPER LOSS. Heat is generated any time current flows in a conductor. Copper loss is an I2R loss, which increases as current increases.

The amount of heat generated is also proportional to the resistance of the conductor. The resistance of the conductor varies directly with its length and inversely with its cross- sectional area. Copper loss is minimized in armature windings by using large diameter wire.

Eddy Current Losses

The core of a generator armature is made from soft iron, which is a conducting material with desirable magnetic characteristics. Any conductor will have currents induced in it when it is rotated in a magnetic field. These currents that are induced in the generator armature core are called EDDY CURRENTS.

The power dissipated in the form of heat, as a result of the eddy currents, is considered a loss. Eddy currents, just like any other electrical currents, are affected by the resistance of the material in which the currents flow.

The resistance of any material is inversely proportional to its cross-sectional area. In the illustration, view A, shows the eddy currents induced in an armature core that is a solid piece of soft iron. View B, shows a soft iron core of the same size, but made up of several small pieces insulated from each other.

This process is called lamination. The currents in each piece of the laminated core are considerably less than in the solid core because the resistance of the pieces is much higher. (Resistance is inversely proportional to cross-sectional area.) The currents in the individual pieces of the laminated core are so small that the sum of the individual currents is much less than the total of eddy currents in the solid iron core.

Eddy currents in dc generator armature cores.

Eddy currents in dc generator armature cores.

As you can see, eddy current losses are kept low when the core material is made up of many thin sheets of metal. Laminations in a small generator armature may be as thin as 1/64 inch. The laminations are insulated from each other by a thin coat of lacquer or, in some instances, simply by the oxidation of the surfaces.

Oxidation is caused by contact with the air while the laminations are being annealed. The insulation value need not be high because the voltages induced are very small. Most generators use armatures with laminated cores to reduce eddy current losses

Hysteresis Losses

Hysteresis loss is a heat loss caused by the magnetic properties of the armature. When an armature core is in a magnetic field, the magnetic particles of the core tend to line up with the magnetic field.

When the armature core is rotating, its magnetic field keeps changing direction. The continuous movement of the magnetic particles, as they try to align themselves with the magnetic field, produces molecular friction. This, in turn, produces heat. This heat is transmitted to the armature windings.

The heat causes armature resistances to increase. To compensate for hysteresis losses, heat-treated silicon steel laminations are used in most dc generator armatures. After the steel has been formed to the proper shape, the laminations are heated and allowed to cool. This annealing process reduces the hysteresis loss to a low value.

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