Radio Frequency Measurement Method for Detecting Bearing Currents in Induction Motors
Särkimäki, Ville (2009-05-28)
Lappeenranta University of Technology
Acta Universitatis Lappeenrantaensis
Julkaisun pysyvä osoite on
Induction motors are widely used in industry, and they are generally considered very reliable. They often have a critical role in industrial processes, and their failure can lead to significant losses as a result of shutdown times. Typical failures of induction motors can be classified into stator, rotor, and bearing failures. One of the reasons for a bearing damage and eventually a bearing failure is bearing currents. Bearing currents in induction motors can be divided into two main categories; classical bearing currents and inverter-induced bearing currents. A bearing damage caused by bearing currents results, for instance, from electrical discharges that take place through the lubricant film between the raceways of the inner and the outer ring and the rolling elements of a bearing. This phenomenon can be considered similar to the one of electrical discharge machining, where material is removed by a series of rapidly recurring electrical arcing discharges between an electrode and a workpiece. This thesis concentrates on bearing currents with a special reference to bearing current detection in induction motors. A bearing current detection method based on radio frequency impulse reception and detection is studied. The thesis describes how a motor can work as a “spark gap” transmitter and discusses a discharge in a bearing as a source of radio frequency impulse. It is shown that a discharge, occurring due to bearing currents, can be detected at a distance of several meters from the motor. The issues of interference, detection, and location techniques are discussed. The applicability of the method is shown with a series of measurements with a specially constructed test motor and an unmodified frequency-converter-driven motor. The radio frequency method studied provides a nonintrusive method to detect harmful bearing currents in the drive system. If bearing current mitigation techniques are applied, their effectiveness can be immediately verified with the proposed method. The method also gives a tool to estimate the harmfulness of the bearing currents by making it possible to detect and locate individual discharges inside the bearings of electric motors.
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