An induction generator or asynchronous generator is a type of AC (alternating current) electrical generator that utilizes induction motor principles to generate electric power. In fact, an induction generator is actually started similar to a motor. To better understand how these generators work, this blog will provide a brief overview of induction generators, the differences between them and induction motors, in addition to some of their unique features.
Induction motors become generators when they are connected to an electrical power system and are driven above their synchronous speed. This is done by a prime mover like a turbine, engine, windmill, or any other apparatuses capable of supplying the necessary torque and speed needed to drive the motor into over-speed conditions. At this time,, the speed of the machine has been increased above the synchronous speed by an external prime mover. Keep in mind that the speed is usually increased in the same direction as that of the rotating field produced by the stator windings.
One of the major differences between induction generators and induction motors is their performance characteristics. For example, the slip RPM and power factor will be lower, while the efficiency will be higher in induction generators. Generally, the differences may be so slight that they may go undetected by normal field measuring methods. Moreover, in terms of frequency regulation, induction generators have the upper hand.
In synchronous generators, the speed must be tightly controlled so that its frequency does not deviate from line frequency. Furthermore, the output frequency and volts are typically regulated by the power system in induction generators and are independent of speed variations. Most importantly, the self-regulation effect minimizes the complexities of the control system. A wide range of applications benefit from induction generators, including mini-hydropower plants, wind turbines, or in reducing high-pressure gas streams, to lower pressure because they can recover energy with simple controls.
How Does an Induction Generator Work?
To familiarize yourself with how an induction generator works, we will first outline an example; consider an AC supply being connected to the stator terminals of an induction machine. The rotating magnetic field generated in the stator pulls the rotor to run behind it. From here, if the rotor is accelerated to a synchronous speed with the help of one of the prime movers previously mentioned, the slip and the net torque will be zero. In addition, when the rotor is running at synchronous speed, the rotor current will become zero. If the rotor rotates above synchronous speed, the slip becomes negative.
As a result of the rotor conductors cutting the stator magnetic field, a rotor current is produced in the opposite direction. Finally, the generated rotor current produces a rotating magnetic field in the rotor which forces in the opposite direction to the stator field. This makes a stator voltage that pushes current flowing out of the stator winding against the applied voltage. At this point, the machine is now operating as an induction generator or asynchronous generator.
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