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IEEE Industry Application Society

Annual Meeting
New Orleans, Louisiana, October 59, 1997

Design of Low-Torque-Ripple Synchronous Reluctance Motors

A. Vagati I,M. Pastorelli l 1G. Franceschini 21 C. Petrache
Dip. Ing. Elettrica lndustriale - Politecnico di Torino - Duca degli Abruzzi, 24 - 10129 Torino - ITALY
Phone + 39 11 5647108
Fax + 39 11 5647199

2Dip. Ing.delllnformazione Universita di Parma V.le delle Scienze 43100 Parma ITALY
Phone + 39 521 905821
Fax + 39 521 905822
3ABB Servomotors S.r.1. - Fr. Stazione di Portacomaro - 14100 Asti - ITALY
Phone + 39 141 476857
Fax + 39 141 296455

A design approach oriented to
minimization of torque-ripple is presented, for
synchronous reluctance motors of the transverselaminated type. First, the possible types of rotors
are classified and the more suited rotor structure
is evidenced, to be matched to a given stator.
Then, the inner rotor design is described, pointingout the low-ripple measures. Last, experimental
results are given, from three different rotors: they
confirm the validity of the proposed approach.

of vector-controlled
synchronous reluctance motors could represent a
viable alternative to other types of a.c. motors, such
induction or P.M. synchronous ones. Consequently,
the design of synchronous reluctance motors has
experienced a renewed interest, to obtain a
performance which is comparable with that of
competitors a.c. motors.
Many recent papers deal with this subject [1+16].
Some of them refer to the axially-laminated type of
rotor, while other consider the transverse-laminated
type, which looks as the most suited to industrial
manufacturing. However, the most of these papers
are mainly concerned with obtaining high anisotropy and high torque-per-volume values: very few
papers deal specifically with torque-ripple problems.

ripple content. This approach is verified by

experiment and very low torque-ripple values are

Preliminarly, let us classify the possible rotor

structures, to outline the existing degrees of freedom
in rotor design. Main reference is made to rotors of
the transverse-laminated type, although axially
laminated rotors could be considered as a particular
case of this classification. Reference is also made to
two-pole structures, for easiness of drawing only.
Disregarding salient-pole rotors, which are not suited
to high-anisotropy, we can consider the rotor of a
constituted by n iron segments, which can assume a
magnetic potential different from each other,
because of a q-axis m.m.f. excitation. This is shown
schematically in Fig. 1, for a five segment per pole
pair machine. The eight separation points between
adjacent segments are evidenced by circles. They
represent the rotor iron ribs, which are saturated by
stator m.m.f. thus allowing different segments to
have different magnetic potentials.

An exception is constituted by 114, 161. Particularly,

in [I61 a quite general analysis is performed, aiming

to evaluate the torque-ripple content of a given
machines design.
On the other hand, as far as high performance drives
are concerned, a design approach specifically
oriented to minimization of torque-ripple is highly
desirable. In fact, as shown in [14], rotor (or stator)
skewing does not constitute, for such a machine, an
ultimate solution to torque-ripple problems.
The aim of this paper is showing a general design
approach, aiming to minimization of the torque0-7803-4067-1/97/$10.00 0 1997 IEEE.

Fig. 1 - Two-pole,

n, = 8, complete positive rotor structure.

If a sinusoidal q-axis m.m.f. is applied, the rotor

reacts like shown in the figure: r, represents the perunit magnetic potential of the i-th segment, while f,
is the average value of the sinusoid, across a
segment span. The various f, define a staircase

function f(s), where 5 is the rotor coordinate.

Analogously, a staircase function r(5) represents the
magnetic potential distribution along the rotor
The shape of [sin 5 - f (E,)] is related to flux lines
which circulate across each segment end, while that
of [f(5) - r(Q] represents flow-through flux lines,
crossing the magnetic barriers [6, 151.
If there are n, separation points, equally spaced
around the periphery, the Fourier expansion of the
staircase distribution f(5) does contain, in addition to
first, only harmonic terms of the order knr 5 1. This
can be shown mathematically: however, this result is
quite intuitive, because f(5) is obtained from sin 5 by
a way which is closely related to a sampling process.
On the contrary, the harmonic content of [f(S)-r(t)]
function can include other additional harmonic
orders, depending on the design of flux barriers.
Starting from Fig. 1, if the eight separation points
are shifted by one-half pitch, a different rotor
structure is obtained, which is shown in Fig. 2.

increased, the practical realization of a complete

structure becomes difficult and one or more flux
barriers near to q-axis have to be omitted. In such a
case, an incomplete structure arises. Its main
harmonic content is still of kn, & 1 order, since it is
defined by the rotor angular pitch 2dnr: however,
other spurious rotor-produced harmonics are
introduced. We will discuss this point later.
From above it is clear that a main point in rotor
design is the choice of the even number n, or, which
is equivalent, the choiice of the rotor pitch. For a
sinusoidally wound and slotless stator the choice of
nr would not affect torque-ripple because, in this
case, no ripple would be present. As a
consequence, the correct choice would be
increasing nr as much i3S possible, thus leading to a
distributed-anisotropy rotor. In this way minimization of zig-zag reactance would be achieved.
On the other hand, a practical winding in a slotted
stator does generate h,armonics which can interact
with rotor ones, producing torque-ripple. As a
consequence, the n, value must be properly related
to the n, value, that is ,the number of stator slots per
pole-pair. This, at least, when torque-ripple
minimization is a main concern.

Fig. 2 - Two-pole, nr = 8, complete negative rotor structure.

The Fig. 2 structure shows the same harmonic orders

as Fig. 1 (n, = 8 ) , although the two separation points
across the q axis (cross) become virtual, in this case.
The structure in Fig. 1 can be called positive while
the Fig. 2 one will be named negative. In general,
negative structures are not suited to shaft
embedding, because they do not have iron across
the d-axis. For this reason, negative structures will
not be considered in the followings.
Regarding positive structures, they will have virtual
separation points across the q-axis when nr/2 is odd,
like shown in Fig. 3, for nr = 10.

A practical winding produces, in general, both belt

and slot harmonics. However, the former can be
greatly reduced by a proper winding design, while
the latter are clearly unavoidable.
Thus, we can refer to a stator which generates slot
harmonics only, both from conductor discretization
and permeance variation due to stator slots.
With reference to Fig. 41, the airgap flux-density wave
We have indicated by ~ ( 56)
can be written as in (I),
the stator m.m.f. wave and by Tr (5, 6 ) the rotor
reaction (magnetic potential around the rotor
surface). l(5, 6) is a permeance function, accounting
for stator slots. 5 is a rotor coordinate, starting from
the d-axis, while 6 is the angle between rotor and

I d

Fig. 3 - Two-pole, nr = 10, complete, positive and odd rotor structure.

The rotor structures shown up to now are complete

structures. Once n, (even) is given, they show nr
jumps in the f(5) function, including the virtual jump
across the q-axis. As previously told, they exhibit
harmonics of kn, 1 order only. However, as n, is

In general, we can split both


~ ( 56), and

B(5, 6 ) into

d, q components, owing to (2)+(5): q components

are symmetrical with respect to q axis, e.g.
zq(nn()= zq(t), while for d components zd(n-5) = ./td(c)
holds . Regarding Tr(5, 6), its d-component is zero for
rotor construction: as a consequence, (6) must be

which depend on the rotor reaction.

If belt harmonics are disregarded, the d, q
components of the stator m.m.f. z can be written as
in (16), (17). In addition to first, they contain
harmonics of hns+l order only, modulated by a
sinusoidal function of hn,6. A sinusoidal current
supply is supposed. The angle y represents the
argument of current vector with respect to d-axis.
zd (5,fi)= tl cos y cos 5 +


Thn,+1cos(hns6-y)cos(hns +1)5+

r r (n-5, f i ) = zr

(5, 6)


I({, e)= lo +

lh COS hns (5 + fi)



- zhn,-l

cos(hnS8+ y) cos(hn, - 1)c


The permeance function I({, 19) can be written by

(7), with a proper choice of the I9=0 reference.
By substitution of (7) into (I), giving evidence to d, q
components, the general relationships (8),(9) are
found. The Id, I, functions are defined by (IO), (11).
Since hn, is even, they satisfy conditions (12) and
(13), like the other d, q quantities do, respectively. h
is any positive integer, different from zero.




Id (n- 5,6)= -ld(t,

hnS6.cos hns<



Iq (n- 5,6)= Iq(S 6)


Let us consider the machine be supplied by

sinusoidal currents. Apart from current module, the
flux-linkages Ad(*), h(I9)can be written as in (14),
(15), by integration of B d T d and B,z, products along
the rotor periphery: the integrals of cross-products
are zero, for a symmetry reason.



(Id Td Tq +Iq z:)d\-

hq(fi) OC



Eqs. (16), (17) can be substituted into the last two
integrals of (14), (15), together with Id, I, expressions
(IO), (11). Of course, the result is quite complicated.
However, let us simply observe that the I&, l,zq terms
do contain spatial (5) harmonics of hns+l order.
They can derive, obviously, from the harmonic terms
of (17) multiplied by I,. In addition, harmonics of
hn&l order are produced by the first-harmonic terms
of (16), (17) multiplied by the harmonic terms of
(IO), (1I ) , respectively. This second effect, very
similar to the former one, is often predominant in
practice, from a quantitative point of view.
Since the aim of this analysis is illustration of the
effect of a nr choice on torque-ripple, we must verify
the existence in the Zr factor (14), (15) of spatial
harmonics of ( h n d l ) order, which can interact with
stator ones, thus producing torque-ripple.
To find an analytical expression of Zr(c, 6) function
is a quite complicated task, in general. Some
simplification is achieved if the flow-through flux is
separated by that circulating across the airgap (zigzag), like it has been done in the simplest case of
Figs. 1+3.
Anyway, it is evident that the rotor must react by a
staircase function like those shown in Figs. 1+3.
However, the amplitude of the various levels are, in
general, modulated by 6. This because of the joint
effect of m.m.f. harmonics and permeance function
I(5, 19). Let us then focus our attention to two
particular cases: nr = n, and nr -+
For nr = n,, the m.m.f. harmonics are nearly
averaged over one rotor pitch, while the permeance
values at each end of a segment are in phase.
However, some modulation with 6 of the staircase
rotor reaction still exists, as shown in [14]. Anyway,
due to first-order m.m.f. excitation, the Tr reaction

l d ( 5 , 6 ) = - c lhsin hns6.sin hn,c






As a matter of fact, if the rotor reaction Zr would be

zero, the produced torque would be zero too. As a
consequence, let us disregard the first terms of (14),
(15) and focus our attention on the second terms,


shows inherent harmonics of hn,kl order, because

n,= n,. They will then produce a torque-ripple,
whose lower harmonic pulsation is n,6, like that of Id,
I, functions (lo), (11).
Let us consider now a completely different case,
that is nr + 00. It means to refer, in practice, to an
axially-laminated rotor structure. The rotor now
reacts to higher-order m.m.f. harmonics. In
particular, the joint effect of first-order m.m.f. and
permeance variations generates spatial harmonics
of h n s f l order in the rotor magnetic potential Zr.
This situation has been treated in [6]. It is shown
there that (18) can be written, for a two-pole
machine and considering only the first harmonic
order of the permeance function.

The spatial harmonics in (18) are modulated by 6.

Considering only the first harmonic of Ahns+l, Ahns-1,
after interaction of Zr with IdTd, I,T,, the produced
torque-ripple will have a lowest-order pulsation of
2n,6, that is double than in the former case.
From above a simple criterion can be drawn,
regarding the choice of n, number, for a given n,.
The first type of rotor reaction, that is the one giving
a n,6 pulsation, can be strongly reduced if nr is
chosen so as the spatial harmonics n,+l and nr+l are
of different order: in this way, only higher-order terms
can be interacting. Since both n, and nr must be
even and positive numbers, condition (19) must be
satisfied. In addition, also the second type of
reaction (pulsation 2ns6) should be minimized,
because stator and rotor tooth pitches are the
nearest to each-other.
nr =n,f4


The choice between +4 becomes a matter of

discussion, depending also on practical feasibility of
the related rotor designs. The solution +4 gives a
better result, in practice, as shown in the followings.
Let us observe that the situation is here different
from the case of an induction motor, for which a
choice of an odd n, value is often a simple and
effective solution.
From above a criterion has been established for
choosing the nr value. However, it represents only a
first-step to minimization of torque-ripple. In fact, the
choice of n, mainly affects the so-called zig-zag
flux. However, the flow-through flux strongly depends
on the design of the inner rotor. Thus, other rotor
harmonics can be produced, which can interact
with stator ones, particularly with those of belt type,
up to now disregarded.


As discussed above, the rotor reaction Tr (g, 6) is a
staircase function of t,, also modulated by 6, in
general. However, since our aim is defining an inner
rotor shape, we must refer to an average situation:
this is done by considering the rotor reaction Zr (5) to
a sinusoidal q-axis excitation as produced by a
slotless stator, as shown in Figs. 1+3.The attention is
here focused to [f(Q-r(c:)] shape, that is the shape of
airgap flux-density which flows into the inner rotor.
Let us firstly consider the case of an unrealistic
machine without iron ribs connecting the various
rotor segments. Moreover, let us refer to a complete
and positive machine, with the previously defined
meaning. In Fig. 5 the shape of sin 6 and f(5) is
reported for such a machine and for 0 5 n/2, in
the case of nr = 14, ,accordingly with (19) when
n, = 18. The shape of r(6) is qualitative.


I Yrl

Fig. 5 Completle positive rotor, n, = 14.

In this case, the staircase function f(5) is defined by

a vector [fk] having three fk components: thus, this is
a third-order rotor. Whlile the fk are immediately
calculated, the effective magnetic potentials rk can
be derived, approximately, from solution of an
equivalent circuit such that shown in Fig. 6 , for the
rotor of Fig. 5. Since this machine is complete, the
permeances pgk are equal to each other (pg).

Fig. 6 Equivalent circuit of a complete, posliie rotor (n, = 14).


Of course, the correct distribution of barrier

permeances P k is not constant, for incomplete
machines. With reference to a general equivalent
circuit of k-th order, the correct [pk] vector is
obtained by firstly imposing [rk] = m[fk], with m e l .
Then, a linear algebraic system is obtained which
can be solved for [pk]. The coefficient m is defined
when applying the physical constraint to pk values.
In conclusion, the barrier permeances are designed
so as the Tr(5) reaction is the nearest to first harmonic
of q-axis excitation, with the constraint of a
predetermined position of the separation points at
the airgap.

This is not necessarily the case of pk, that is one-half

the permeances of the three flux barriers, because
they depend on the shape of such barriers. Their
design is mainly devoted to torque maximization, of
course, as described in [9. 151. However, the relative
values of Pk influence the r(5) shape and,
consequently, the torque-ripple content.
Owing to the nr choice (19), the hn,+l rotor
harmonics have been already taken into account.
Thus, the designer's point of view is avoiding
introduction of other spurious harmonics, not
inherently connected to rotor discretization, which
can interact with residual belt harmonics of the
stator. This can be easily done, for a complete
machine, by imposing that r(5) has the same shape
of f(Q, which inherently contains only hn,+l
harmonics. From Fig. 6 it is evident that this
condition leads to a constant Pk condition.
The situation is different when an incomplete
machine is considered. Since it becomes a
necessity when the n, value is increased, let us
consider the case n, = 22, accordingly with (19) for
n, = 18. A complete rotor of this kind would be of
fifth order. However, if the barrier nearest to q-axis is
drop out, a fourth order incomplete rotor is found. Its
[fk] behavior is shown in Fig. 7, together with the
shape of lO[f(\)-r(\)] (shaded line), when the barrier
permeance is supposed to be constant.



sin 5


Fig. 7 - Incomplete positive rotor, n, = 22, with constant permeance.

can be seen, the flow-through flux is

concentrated in the proximity of q-axis. However, in
this case, a reduction to -80% of the permeance of
the fourth barrier still allows obtaining the same
shape of f(5).
In general, it is always possible, for an incomplete
machine, to obtain a flux-density shape like that of
f(5). Of course, this shape contains a limited quantity
of spurious harmonics, in addition to hnr*l ones.
However, this still represents the best choice. Any
further attempt to eliminate the spurious harmonics
would be or unfeasible or leading to a lower


In a practical rotor of the transverse-laminated type

ribs are provided, to connect the rotor segments to
each other. Of course, they must comply with
mechanical exigencies. However, once saturated by
stator m.m.f., they will conduct some magnetic flux,
thus influencing the shape of airgap flux-density.
Let us refer, for example, to the complete third-order
machine of Fig. 5. In the simplest case of equalwidth ribs, if we suppose for simplicity that they are
all saturated at the same flux-density level, the
related equivalent circuit is obtained from that of
Fig. 6, by simply adding one flux generator, as
shown in Fig. 8. In fact, in this simple case, the rib
flux enters the rotor from the q-axis segment and
goes on flowing through the series-connected ribs. If
the barriers are designed in order to have constant P k
permeances, the airgap flux-density assumes the
shape shown in Fig. 8 by shaded line. Of course, this
shape represents an example, because it depends
on rib width which, in turn, depends on maximum
As can be seen from the figure, the effect of equalwidth rotor ribs is similar to that of dropping-out the
last barrier: in both cases the flow-through flux is
concentrated in the proximity of q-axis. Thus, it is
evident that the shown rib-effect can be
compensated in the same way as before, that is by
finding a proper [Pk] vector which makes [rk]
proportional to [fk].
However, a compensation of rib flux by means of
barrier flux can be obtained only for a definite
working condition, e.g. the rated q-axis current.
When this current is varied, e.g. reduced, the barrier
flux is reduced proportionally while the rib flux is
not, because of iron saturation.
A design approach is then preferable which tends to
a separate shaping of barrier flux and rib flux, in
order they both assume the quasi-sinusoidal shape of
f(Q. Regarding rib flux, this result can be obtained
by designing ribs whose width decreases, going from
d-axis towards q-axis. This is feasible because the
related mechanical strength also decreases in the


same direction. Moreover, an additional degree of

freedom is allowed, because additional ribs can be
provided in the inner rotor, typically along the qaxis. They behave magnetically in the same way as
tangential ribs, however their mechanical load can
be larger, because it is radially directed.
In conclusion, following the design procedure above
described, a shape like that qualitatively shown in
Fig. 9 is obtained, for a four-pole machine with 36
stator slots (n, = 18). The chosen n, number is, in this
case, n, =14.

sin 5


I A----

Fig. 8 - Complete positive rotor (n, = 14), with ribs and constant

Fig. 9 Example of a four-pole 18/14 rotor.

The shown structure is positive, complete and has

additional ribs on the q-axis, for the two inner
barriers. The shown rib width are qualitative and
larger than practical ones. The barriers are shaped

in order to nearly show the same permeances. Of

course, to find an exact shape, F.E.M. calculations
are opportune. They are also needed to design the
widths of the various ribs, once the maximum shaft
speed is defined.

At the aim of verifyiing the above reported design
strategy, also based on qualitative considerations,
some experimental results are here shown. Three
different rotors have been built. They have been put
into the same stator structure. In addition, two
different windings have been provided, to point-out
the effect of belt harmonics.
The stator lamination has 36 slots. The two windings
are three-phase four-pole: thus there are 3 slots per
pole.phase (n, = 18). One winding is full-pitched,
while the other one is made by three equal sections,
shifted by one tooth-pitch. Thus, the conductor
distribution of one phase belt is 1:2:3:2:1, covering
five slots. By this second winding, called distributed
in the followings, the belt-harmonic contents has
been definitely reduced.
The three rotors are four-pole, with a different n,
number: 18, 14 , 22. Thus, the case n, = n, and the
two ones of condition (19) are covered. These rotors
are of the transverse-laminated type, with ribs
disposed on the rotor surface only. The rib width is
constant and the rib flux is not compensated by
barrier permeances. Moreover, while the nr=l4 rotor
is complete, both nr=18 and n,=22 rotors are
incomplete: the barrier permeances have been
designed accordingly. The outer stator diameter is
119 mm, while the stack length is = 60 mm. Thus,
the obtained motors are quite small and short. Their
rated torque is, approximately, 3+4 Nm without
forced cooling, as usual for servomotors. All the
rotors are skewed by one stator pitch: thus, the
obtained ripple valules are fairly small in every
situation. The showin differences must then be
attributed to the different rotor and winding designs.
The torque-ripple has been measured by a proper
test bench. The testeld motor is supplied by current
vector control and id, i, currents are set, in order to
obtain a torque which is nearly three-times the
rated one (= 9 Nm). The angle of the current vector
is close to 60. The tested motor is connected,
through a torque-meter, to the low-speed output of a
1:120 gear. The high-speed shaft of this gear is
driven by a speed-controlled brushless drive. In this
way, the speed is imposed by this drive through the
one-way gear, Thus, the tested motor sees a virtually
infinite inertia and the speed is completely
decoupled from torque-ripple of tested motor.
The obtained results are shown in Figs. 1 0 4 4 . They
show, together with the measured torque-ripple, a
phase current signal of unity amplitude, to give
evidence to the harmonic orders in the ripple signal.

The spurious frequencies due to supply have been

filtered-out, from both signals.
Fig. 10 refers to a 18/18 motor, with distributed
windings. The main harmonic order of torque-ripple
is 18th and its peak amplitude ripple is &6.2%, with
29 1

reference to the given average torque. This situation

can be considered as a reference case, which the
other situations can be referred to.

T ["I

spectrum of the shown ripple is: 0.26% 6th, 0.13%

12th, 0.4% 18th, 0.07% 24th, giving only lower-order

I ,







0.83 rpm


T ["I






A , 0

e [rad].


Fig. 12 18/14 rotor, full-pitched winding.

Last, when the previous rotor (nr = 22) is matched to

a full-pitched winding, the Fig. 14 result is obtained.
The harmonic content is now: 0.43% 6th, 0.43%
12th, 0.37% 18th, 0.17% 24th. As can be seen, the
total ripple is still lower than I%,
even if the winding
is full-pitched. This is probably due to the fact that
the nr&l rotor harmonics are now of larger order (21,
23) than in Fig. 12 case. Also, the rotor-produced
spurious harmonics have a low effect, because the
missed barrier has been compensated by the
permeances of the other barriers and the rib flux,
although non compensated, has a little effect since
the motor is overloaded.

T ["I






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T I"[







Fig. 14 - 18/22 rotor, full-pitched winding.

A design approach specifically oriented to torqueripple minimization for synchronous reluctance
motors has been presented and confirmed by
experiment. It has been shown that a rotor of the
transverse laminated type is fully compatible with
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