Industrial Electric motors are workhorse mechanisms. They convert electrical energy into mechanical momentum, turning pure wire-trapped current flow into raw radial motion. The technology that operates behind an electrical motor is justifiably complex. These aren’t toy motors, after all, mechanisms driven by a battery and a few windings of wire to create a magnetic field and rotate some skinny shaft. The principles that define these models include basic direct current (DC) power supplies, single phase alternating current (AC) models and the ever-popular 3-phase AC motor.
As we’re covering industrial-grade motors today, our course is set. Let’s take a look at a few single-phase AC models, but our focus is going to naturally gravitate toward 3-phase technology.
Important Characteristics for Industrial Motors
Thoughts of industry suggest scale and large loads, although the versatility to downscale and work within fields where lower load types are handled does enter the scenario. A lower load type would be a basic pump within a water heating system. Load characteristics would include low speed and low torque settings, a configuration where a single-phase electric motor would excel. In this case, single-phase refers to the presence of one power line, one return cable and a ground connection. An oscillating magnetic field is produced within a physically compact motor and a shaft rotates a gearing mechanism or a belt system, thus locking the motor to the pump assembly. Again, the key properties of electric motors in any of these applications are as follows:
The Three-Phase Electric Motor
This type of motor receives its own subheading because it dominates industry, and this dominance involves more than a robust structure that can function in any hazardous environment. Three power lines work together to create a rotating magnetic field within the stator (outer housing) of the motor. The energetic magnetic field impels the rotor of the motor to begin turning the attached shaft. The three fields are 120 degrees apart from each other, a configuration that has been proven as the most efficient means of setting up a rotating magnetic field. Of further note here, three-phase technology is also the accepted manner in which electricity is transmitted across country.
The higher energy and greater efficiency of the three-phase electric motor does require more circuitry. For example, special three-phase control switches must be mounted in control cabinetry to manage the starting cycle of the motor. The famous “Star” and “Delta” configuration is set by these switches, with the former setting taking the initial load as a huge industrial mechanism moves from its resting position to near full speed. At this point, the switch changes over to the latter configuration, holding here as the motor reaches full speed.
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