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High Power Variable Frequency Generator for Large Civil Aircraft

By M. Olaiya and NBuchan

TRW Aeronautical Systems, Lucas Aerospace, Maylands Avenue, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire HP2 4SP

Aeromet International PLC - suppliers

ABSTRACT of fully machined precision aluminium
and magnesium castings to the
2X W Aeronautical Systems (zucas aerospace, defence and motor-sport
Aerospace) set out to develop a high industries.
power, wide speed range variable Telcon Ltd - principally engaged in the
fiequency (VF) generator suitable for manufacture of soft magnetic alloys
large civil aircrap. A high-speed and applied magnetic electronic
generator is desirable because it will be devices.
smaller and lighterfor a given output and The Component Design and Integrity
because its higher output@equency will be (CDI)Group within the Department of
more compatible with economically sized Mechanical Engineering at University
consumer equipment. The three-year of Nottingham - undertakes research
program, which was part funded by the and consultancy work related to the
D?7 under its CARAD 11 initiative is design and integrity of engineering
described. components.


TRW Aeronautical Systems (Lucas OBJECTIVES
Aerospace) has pioneered the application To develop the necessary technologies
of variable fiequency electrical power required to realise a 120kVA, 2.05:l speed
generation in a turbofan-engined aircraft, range, variable fiequency generator, the
winning the contract for the Global following factors were considered:
Express Electrical Power Generation and 0 Optimised electromagnetic design for
Distribution System. efficient operation over a wide
fiequency range
Variable frequency technology has many 0 Magnetic material optimised for high
benefits, particularly in terms of cost, strength and low losses
weight and reliability. The company 0 High integrity, high speed, four-pole
recognised that it must make the move rotor
fi-om small business jet aircraft to medium 0 High strength lightweight fiame
and large civil aircraft. To achieve this a
0 Methods for consistent cooling of
number of technical challenges had to be wide-speed range generator
overcome. These were:
0 IOptimised high speed bearing design
Optimised electromagnetic design for
wide fiequency range operation
0 High integrity, high speed rotor
The principal challenges involve the
0 Consistent thermal management over electrical performance, the mechanical
speed range integrity and the thermal management,
these are influenced by the operating
The three year project which started in speed, size and weight of the generator.
April 96 was part funded by the DTI under
its CARAD II initiative. It was undertaken Electrical Performance
in partnership with four other companies: The generator speed range is 11,400 to
0 The Barden Corporation (UK) LTD - 23,400 rpm resulting in a frequency range
operating fiom Plymouth, Devon a of 380 to 780Hz. The electrical
mandacturer of super-precision rolling performance must be optimised to provide
contact bearings.
a high quality of supply over this The three stages of the machine are the
frequency range whilst maintaining permanent magnet generator (PMG), the
minimum weight and maximum main exciter (ME) and the main alternator
efficiency. (MA). These are connected in cascade
with the PMG powering the ME via the
Mechanical Integrity generator control unit. The ME supplies
To design a rotor capable of operating to the MA via shaft mounted diodes.
an over-speed of 27,000rpm that is stiff
enough to limit shaft growth and bending. The three static electromagnetic
The rotor must also accommodate the components are supported in two precision
loads and stress cycling due to the variable sand-cast aluminium alloy housings. The
speed of operation. three rotating electromagnetic components
are mounted on a common shaft,
Thermal Management supported by a pair of ceramic ball
With a generator operating over a wide bearings at either end.
speed range the consistent provision of
adequate cooling oil is a significant Cooling oil is supplied directly into the
challenge. The rotor construction dictates rotor shaft and distributed via a series of
that the main rotor is flood cooled with jets to cool windings and lubricate
spray cooling elsewhere. The size of the bearings. The main rotor is flood cooled
rotor determines the oil jet velocities and for maximum efficiency.
flows and these must be optimised to
achieve maximum cooling and efficiency The MA rotor is assembled inside a large
over the full speed range. diameter Jnconel shaft to ensure the
stiffhess and integrity of the rotor. This
DESIGN OVERVIEW also provides the means to flood cool the
The generator is a 3-stage brushless oil MA rotor.
cooled machine providing a nominal 115v,
12OkVA, 3 phase and 380-78OHz output. 12OkVA VF Generator


Oil outlet NDE
Oil outlet DE
Development testing can be divided into The dynamic tests show that the material
three categories. Dynamic Performance, choice and rotor construction is critical in
Thermal & Oil Management and Electrical achieving the high speeds envisaged for
Performance. the high power.

DYNAMIC TESTING The high rotor speeds generate high oil

Growth & Whirl velocities and significant shearing losses in
An initial test on each rotor to establish the the oil leading to poor efficiencies. Careful
growth of the rotor under the action of attention to the passage of oil into and out
centrifugal forces (CF). Measuring the of the generator is vital to reduce these
whirl indicates the critical speed of the losses to a minimum, particularly as
rotor. mechanical heat loss rises with speed.
Further modifications are under evaluation.
Each rotor is subjected to a five minute Testing to date shows that the generator
over-speed. This test stabilises the rotor meets the target electrical specification.
windings after growth & whirl. The rotor is Notably the unit will deliver 12OkVA at
dynamically balanced prior to oil unity to 0.75 power factor over the
management testing. frequency 380 - 720Hz.
The power quality is a function of the load
THERMAL & OIL MANAGEMENT excitation, unbalanced load, waveform
The rotor oil management tests are carried analysis and load switching tests. Initial
out in a custom-made spin pot. The spin indications are that the power quality
pot allows the flow of oil fiom each jet on meets specification
the rotor to be measured and therefore
optimised to achieve maximum cooling. MAGNETIC MATERIAL
Mechanical losses in the form of drag and The challenge for Telcon Ltd, Within the
churning can also be measured project, was to develop a soft magnetic
alloy with increased strength without
A number of generators were fully sacrificing magnetic performance when
thermocoupled and can be thermally compared With existing high saturation
mapped to ensure optimum cooling. The alloys.
inlet and outlet oil temperatures are
recorded and used to monitor overall A yield strength target value for the rotor
efficiency at any given electrical load. laminations was set at 600MPa This has
been achieved with the new cobalt-iron
ELECTRICAL TESTING alloy together with meeting the target
The electrical and electromagnetic magnetic performance levels for the rotor
perfomance of the generator is confirmed and stator laminations covering both losses
with the following tests: and induction at specified field levels.
0 Pilot Exciter Characteristics
0 Open Circuit Characteristics The University of Nottingham have carried
0 Short Circuit Capability out a study of the fatigue and fiacture
0 Load Excitation and Heating properties for the magnetic iron material at
0 Balanced & Unbalanced Loads 15OoC, the temperature at which the
0 Waveform Analysis material will operate. The outcome of this
work has confirmed that the material has a
0 Loadswitching
peak fatigue limit of lo6 cycles at peak
Efficiency stress levels less than 800MPA with a ratio
of maximum to minimum stress of 0.1.
Each of these tests is conducted at the
extremes of oil temperature, over the speed
range and at various load conditions.

COPPER CONDUCTOR MATERIAL Systems intends to investigate in the near
The University of Nottingham have also future, are:
undertaken a study of the creep and fatigue Increase the generator output power.
properties of annealed high conductivity Improvements to the oil management
copper at temperatures up to 250°C. arrangement to further improve the
Copper is chosen for its superior efficiency.
conductivity and is used in all of the
wound components in the generator. As civil aircraft become larger it is clear
that the demand for electrical power will
There is little data available on the increase. In the same way the More
behaviour of the copper at elevated Electric Aircraft (MEA) will require more
temperatures. The data generated from this power to supply the ever-increasing
study will be used to optimise future number of electrical systems. The work
designs. In particular it will be used to covered by this project is a significant step
improve the design of conductor towards the needs of the MEA.
connections subjected to high centrifugal
forces. Acknowledgements
The authors would like to acknowledge the
The tests have shown that fatigue lives at contribution to this paper fiom Telcon Ltd
200°C are more than two times longer than and The University of Nottingham.
the lives at 25OoC.

TRW Aeronautical Systems (Lucas
Aerospace) has successfully designed and
manufactured a 120kVA VF generator and
is currently in the process of developing
this machine. The generator has
demonstrated the ability to deliver variable
frequency power over a frequency range of
380 to 720Hz. Initial indications are that
the power quality also meets specification.

The speed and size of the generator have a

major impact upon the integrity of the rotor
and the efficiency that can be achieved.
These are both mechanical issues and can
easily be overcome. The company is in the
process of testing refinements that will
address these issues.

The test programme has highlighted the

areas of the design that must be addressed
to achieve variable frequency generators
rated at 120kVA and beyond.
Developments, which TRW Aeronautical

0 1999 The Institution of Electricai Engineers.

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