AC GENERATOR THEORY
Hysteresis losses occur when iron cores in an AC generator are subject to effects from a
magnetic field. The magnetic domains of the cores are held in alignment with the field in
varying numbers, dependent upon field strength. The magnetic domains rotate, with respect to
the domains not held in alignment, one complete turn during each rotation of the rotor. This
rotation of magnetic domains in the iron causes friction and heat. The heat produced by this
friction is called magnetic hysteresis loss.
To reduce hysteresis losses, most AC armatures are constructed of heat-treated silicon steel,
which has an inherently low hysteresis loss. After the heat-treated silicon steel is formed to the
desired shape, the laminations are heated to a dull red and then allowed to cool. This process,
known as annealing, reduces hysteresis losses to a very low value.
Rotational or mechanical losses can be caused by bearing friction, brush friction on the
commutator, and air friction (called windage), which is caused by the air turbulence due to
armature rotation. Careful maintenance can be instrumental in keeping bearing friction to a
minimum. Clean bearings and proper lubrication are essential to the reduction of bearing friction.
Brush friction is reduced by ensuring: proper brush seating, proper brush use, and maintenance
of proper brush tension. A smooth and clean commutator also aids in the reduction of brush
friction. In very large generators, hydrogen is used within the generator for cooling; hydrogen,
being less dense than air, causes less windage losses than air.
Efficiency of an AC generator is the ratio of the useful power output to the total power input.
Because any mechanical process experiences some losses, no AC generators can be 100 percent
efficient. Efficiency of an AC generator can be calculated using Equation (10-3).
Given a 5 hp motor acting as the prime mover of a generator that has a load
demand of 2 kW, what is the efficiency of the generator?
In order to calculate efficiency, the input and output power must be in the same
units. As described in Thermodynamics, the horsepower and the watt are
equivalent units of power.