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AC Generators Design and Assembly Review
A typical AC generator consists of a stationary stator and a rotor mounted within the stator (see below: Typical AC Generator). The stator contains a specific number of coils, each with a specific number of windings. Similarly, the rotor consists of a specific number of field poles, each with a specific number of windings. In addition to the rotor and stator, a generator has a collector assembly (usually consisting of collector slip rings, brushes, and brush holders). DC flows from the exciter, through the negative brush and slip ring, to the rotor field poles. The return path to the exciter is through the positive brush and slip ring.
Typical AC Generator
Rotor - The rotor contains magnetic fields which are established and fed by the exciter. When the rotor is rotated, AC is induced in the stator. The changing polarity of the rotor produces the alternating characteristics of the current. The generated voltage is proportional to the strength of the magnetic field, the number of coils (and number of windings of each coil), and the speed at which the rotor turns.
Stator - The frame assembly is the main component of the stator. Insulated windings (or coils) are placed in slots near an air gap in the stator core. There is a fixed relationship between the unit’s number of phases and the way the coils are connected. The stator in a four-wire, three-phase unit has three sets of armature coils which are spaced 120 electrical degrees apart. One end of each coil is connected to a common neutral terminal. The other end of each coil is connected to separate terminals. Conductors attached to the four terminals carry the current to the system’s switchgear and on to the load.
Collector slip rings - Slip rings are usually made of nonferrous metal (brass, bronze or copper); iron or steel is sometimes used. Slip rings usually do not require much servicing. The wearing of grooves or ridges in the slip rings is retarded by designing the machine with limited end-play and by staggering the brushes. Surfaces of the slip rings should be bright and smooth, polishing can be performed with fine sandpaper and honing stone. Electrolytic action can occur at slip ring surfaces producing formation of verdigris. Verdigris is a greenish coating that forms on nonferrous metals. Electrolytic deterioration can be prevented by reversing the polarity of the slip rings once or twice a year. The stator of the three-wire, three-phase unit also has three sets of armature coils spaced 120 electrical degrees apart. The ends of the coils are connected together in a delta configuration. Conductors are attached to the three connecting points.
References: “Joint Departments of the Army and the Navy, Operation Maintenance and Repair of Auxiliary Generators, 26 August 1996”