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Triple harmonics in transformers

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1 Author(s)
G. Faccioli ; General Electric Company, Pittsfield, Mass.

Although the prolbem of higher harmonics in the electrical circuits of transformers is a generation old and the solution has been given by a number of eminent engineers, still hardly a week passes in a department specializing on the manufacture of transformers that an instance does not appear of the lack of comprehension of the relations involved. If the problem were entirely confined to the realms of the manufacturing specialists, it might well be passed over and taken care of by local educational work. But the troubles which arise from time to time in the practise of transmission and distribution of electrical energy on polyphase circuits due entirely to the method of connection of the three phases of polyphase apparatus warrants a review of the subject in a simple form. What are the troubles which may arise in trails mission practise? The harmonics may, first set up potential strains in the transformer coils; second, raise the voltage of the line; third, burn out incandescent lamps; fourth, change the ratio of transformation of voltage under low-load conditions from its proper value as determined by the ratio of the number of turns on the primary coil to the number of turns on the secondary coil; fifth, produce a triple harmonic current in the neutral connection to ground; sixth, induce a distracting hum in telephone receivers connected to parallel telephone circuits; seventh, produce abnormally high voltages and large currents in odd places on the circuits due to a resonance with a natural frequency of the circuit; and so on. To get at the basic effect which causes these triple-harmonic troubles the magnetization current of a single-phase transformer may be considered. If the applied potential at the terminals of the transformer is the familiar smooth sine wave it is well-known that the magnetizing current is not a sine wave but is a smooth distorted wave. On the other hand, if a pure sine wave of current is forced through the primary there appears on both the - rimary and the secondary a smooth but distorted wave of potential. It must be one or the other. It often helps the understanding and avoids possible confusion to point out a resemblance which is actually a different phenomenon. Instead of finding by oscillographic tests that a current wave is smooth, it may be somewhat saw-toothed. This occurs when a generator supplies current to a condenser, such as an unloaded overhead line or electric cable. A generator usually has either twelve teeth on the armature per pair of poles (that is to say per cycle) or eighteen teeth. If there are twelve teeth, the nearest odd number for the necessarily odd harmonic is either eleven or thirteen. Likewise, if there are eighteen teeth there will be found either seventeen or nineteen saw-teeth or ripples on the main wave. These variations from a sine wave are known as teeth harmonics which entirely distinguish them from the distortions of the sine wave by the effect of variable permeability of the iron. The teeth harmonics, if they exist, are so numerous they can be counted on the oscillographic wave. The permeability harmonics being lower and nearer the first harmonic distort the general shape of the wave without making it visibly evident whether the third, fifth, or seventh is the cause. In passing — the even number of harmonics cannot exist continually in the generator wave of either current or voltage because an even number harmonic would make the positive half of the wave different from the negative half of the wave. The simplest proof, without mathematics, is to draw a sine wave, superpose on it a sine wave of twice the frequency, and combine the two to form a third wave. The distortion of the wave of magnetizing current away from a sine wave may be explained to the mathematically inclined by reference to Fourier's Theorem — a long involved trigonometric equation. It is more evident to put the analysis in words. The distorted current wave is apparently scrambled s

Published in:

Journal of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers  (Volume:41 ,  Issue: 5 )