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The Effective Resistance and Heat Loss.

The effective resistance of a capacitor causes its impedance to deviate from


a pure reactant and is associated with the generation of heat. The current is
E/Z for an applied voltage E. Except at frequencies approaching
resonance, the current is approximately equal to <oC. Then using the
expression for the effective resistance from Eqn. 2, the heat loss is given
by: The first term represents loss in the foil and leads, and the second
term, loss in the dielectric.
In capacitors required to carry large currents the energy dissipation is a
source of heating which, if not adequately reduced or dissipated by thermal
conduction, may cause rapid deterioration and failure of the dielectric.
Consideration of heat loss enters into the design and use of capacitors for
low- frequency operation in connection with power factor correction and,
at high frequencies, in radio transmitting capacitors. In radio circuits,
effective resistance becomes important in series coil and capacitor
combinations required to have low impedance at the resonance frequencies
or parallel combinations required to have high impedance at the antiresonance frequency. This is because resistance may add appreciably to the
desired low impedance at the resonance frequency or reduce the desired
high impedance at the anti-resonant frequency.
In electric wave filters intended to pass one band of frequencies and
suppress another, the transmission loss is ideally zero over the pass-band
and rises sharply beyond the edge or edges. Parasitic dissipation in the
reactive elements introduces unwanted loss which varies over the passband and reaches a maximum at the edges resulting in distorted transmission. This source of loss may be seriously objectionable, for example, in
carrier-telephone systems where the cumulative loss of many filters in

tandem may result in considerable distortion which must be compensated


for by means of attenuation-equalizing networks.
In his efforts to limit the losses in capacitors required to pass alternating
current in telephone and electrolytic capacitors, the capacitor engineer is
usually primarily concerned with the effect of frequency. This is because
the effective resistance undergoes large changes with changing frequency
and because of the wide frequency-range such circuits are often required to
cover. Consequently special attention is given to the effect of frequency in
the following discussion of the factors which control effective resistance.
It is also assumed that the effective resistance is Independent of the
appHed voltage. For practical purposes, any changes in effective resistance
with rising voltage are usually unimportant up to the corona voltage. At
this point, air be- tween electrodes and leads, air or gas trapped in the
dielectric or even the dielectric material itself starts to ionize that Is,
electrons are hberated. Gathering velocity In the electric field, these
electrons collide with atoms and molecules to knock out more electrons.
This cumulative process produces electric current of greater intensity than
the dielectric can stand with- out disintegrating or literally burning up.
Above the corona voltage point the effective resistance not only becomes
unstable in value but also usually undergoes large increases with further
increases in voltage. Capacitors should be rated to operate at voltages well
under the corona point, and in this discussion corona Is assumed to be
absent.
Loss in Foil and Leads.
As a first approximation the effective resistance of the foil and leads of a
capacitor is usually a constant over a wide range of frequency. At higher
frequencies, the value increases due to eddy-current and other losses.
However, since in the majority of capacitors, these high-frequency effects
do not enter appreciably, they are not discussed in detail.

Then, if we assume that the effective resistance r is constant, from Eq. 3,


we have : Heat loss in foil and leads = Eo'Ch = E^iwCYrf. On this basis
the heat loss in the foil and leads increases as the square of the frequency
for constant appHed voltage. In general, this condition applies over the
operating frequency- range of paper capacitors.