Motor protection relays--part 1 [Industrial Electrical Power Systems]

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IEC Overload RelayElectric motors are the workhorses of industry and are extensively used to convert electrical energy into rotational mechanical energy. Squirrel cage induction motors, particularly the TEFC type (Totally enclosed, fan cooled), have become extremely popular mainly because of their simple, rugged construction and good starting and running torque characteristics. For example, in a small country such as South Africa, about 100 thousand of this type of motor above 1 kW are sold annually, mainly for new applications but also as replacements for worked out or 'burnt out' motors. The TEFC design improves the mechanical life of the motor because dust and moisture are excluded from the bearings and windings. This type of motor has proved to be extremely reliable with an expected lifetime of up to 40 years when used in the correct application.

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The causes of motor damage given are taken from statistics gathered within the ABB Group. They are shown, that 81% of these failures could have been avoided by using an accurate and effective relay.

26% 30% 20% 5% 19% --

Long time overheating (26%); Rotor or bearing fault (20%); Insulation fault (30%); Faulty protection (5%); Other causes (19%)

++++ Main causes for motor damage in industrial drives: 26% 30% 20% 5% 19% -- Thermal overload protection

Start-up supervision and thermal sensor unit; Short-circuit and ground fault protection; Continuous self-testing of the protective relay; Other protective functions/undetectable faults

++++ Protective functions needed to detect the motor drive faults.

Eaton’s EMR-3000 motor protection relay is a multifunctional microprocessor-based protective relay for the protection of any size motor at all voltage levels. It is most commonly applied on medium voltage or larger motors. The MP-3000 relay is a current only device that provides complete and reliable motor protection, monitoring, and starting control functions.
above: a multifunctional microprocessor-based protective relay for the protection of any size motor at all voltage levels.

The life of an electric motor is determined by the shorter of the following two factors:

1. Mechanical life: This is the life of the mechanical parts such as bearings, shaft, fan and the frame and depends on the environment (dust, moisture, chemicals, etc.), vibration and lubrication. The mechanical life can be extended by means of regular inspection and maintenance.

2. Electrical life: This is the life of the electrical parts such as the stator winding and insulation, rotor winding and the cable terminations in the motor connection box. Assuming that the cable terminations are properly done and regularly checked, the electrical life may be extended by ensuring that the windings and insulation are not subjected to excessive temperatures which are usually the consequence of overloading or single phasing (loss of one-phase). The purpose of good motor protection is to continuously monitor the current flowing into the motor to detect overloading or fault conditions and to automatically disconnect the motor when an abnormal situation arises. This protection, when correctly applied, extends the useful life of the motor by preventing insulation damage through overheating.

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Most people in the industry can easily understand the relatively simple mechanical aspects of an electric motor but few fully appreciate the electrical limitations and relationship of overloading to the useful life of the motor. Essentially, mechanical overloading causes excessively high currents to flow in the winding (since current in the motor is proportional to the load torque) and this results in overheating of the stator and motor windings.

These high temperatures result in the deterioration of the insulation materials through hardening and cracking, eventually leading to electrical breakdown or faults. In many cases, the motor can be repaired by rewinding the stator but this is expensive with a longer downtime. The larger the motor, the higher the cost.

There are several types of insulation materials commonly used on motors. In the IEC specifications for motors, the insulation materials are classified by the temperature rise above maximum ambient temperature, that the materials can continuously withstand without permanent damage. For example, specified temperature rises for commonly used insulation classes are: Class B: 80 °C above maximum ambient of 40 °C (i.e. maximum continuous temperature of 120 °C)

Class F: 100 °C above maximum ambient of 40 °C (i.e. maximum continuous temperature of 140 °C) In a squirrel cage induction motor, the current flowing into the stator winding is directly proportional to the mechanical load torque. The motor manufacturer designs the motor to operate within specified limits. The motor is rated in terms of kilowatts (kW) at a rated supply voltage (V ) and current (I ). This means that a machine can drive a mechanical load continuously up to rated torque at rated speed. Under these conditions, supply current is within the specified current and the internal heating will be within the capabilities of the specified insulation class. At full load with class B insulation, the winding temperature will stabilize at below 120 °C. The main cause of heating in the motor windings is a function of the square of the current flowing in the stator and rotor windings. This is shown on the motor equivalent circuit where the losses are I² (Rs + Rr). These are often referred to as the copper losses. The stator windings have only a small mass and heat up rapidly because of the current flowing. The heat insulation and the cooling time constant is consequently quite long. Other losses also generate heat. These are referred to as the iron losses but are relatively small and are quickly dissipated into the body of the motor.

Stator winding I Ir

Im = very small value, so I = Ir Copper losses = I

Rs = stator resistance Rr

= rotor resistance Xc =magnetizing inductance Rm =magnetizing resistance Rs Xs Rotor winding V Equivalent circuit of a squirrel cage motor

++++ Equivalent circuit of a squirrel cage motor

Early motor protection relays

Some of the early designs of motor protection relays have a single function whose purpose was to protect the motor against overloading by ensuring that it never draws in excess of the rated current. This was done by continuously monitoring the electrical current drawn by the motor and arranging for the motor to be disconnected when the current exceeded the rated current and remains so for a certain period of time. The higher the overload current, the shorter the permissible time before disconnection. This time delay was achieved in various ways. An example is the 'solder pot' relay, which relied on the time taken for solder in the measuring circuit to melt when the load current was passed through it. The bi-metal type relays disconnect the motor when the load current passing through a resistor heated in a bi-metallic strip sufficiently to bend it beyond a pre set limit. This released the trip mechanism. In recent years, electronic relays utilize an analog replica circuit, comprising a combination of resistors and capacitors, to simulate the electrical characteristics of the stator and rotor. The main principle linking all these methods is the design of a replica system to simulate as closely as possible the electrical characteristics of the motor.

In the past, it has been a common practice to detect over temperature from temperature dependent elements built into the winding of the motor.

However, this form of temperature measurement is in most cases unsatisfactory, as it’s not taken directly from the current conductor. Instead, it’s taken through the insulation which gives rise to considerable sluggishness. Due to insulation considerations, insertion of thermocouples in high-voltage motors can cause problems. Furthermore, after a fault (e.g. a break in the measuring lead inside the machine) high repair costs are encountered.

Another problem is that no one can accurately predict, during the design, how many and where the 'hot spots' will be.

Consequently, protection is preferably based on monitoring the phase currents instead.

Because the temperature is determined by the copper and iron losses, it must be possible to derive it indirectly by evaluating the currents in the motor supply leads.

The performance of a motor protection relay depends on how closely and accurately the protection simulates the motor characteristics. The ideal simulation occurs when the heating and cooling time constants of the motor windings are matched by the relay under all operating conditions. In some of the early devices, the protection could underestimate the heating time of the windings from cold and could trip before a motor/load combination with a long run-up time had reached running speed. On the other hand, during several sequential starts and stops, the device could underestimate the cooling time of the windings, allowing the motor windings to overheat. This situation can very easily arise with the bi-metallic thermal overload relays commonly used on motor starters even today. Under certain conditions, bi-metallic thermal overload relays don’t provide full protection because the device does not have exactly the same thermal heating and cooling characteristics as the motor, which it’s protecting. The heating and cooling time constants of a bi-metallic relay are much the same but in actual installations, it should be borne in mind that a stopped motor has a longer cooling time constant than that for a running motor. When a motor has stopped, the fan no longer provides a forced draft and cooling takes longer than when the motor is running on no load. A simple bi-metallic device is a compromise and is calibrated for normal running conditions. As soon as an abnormal situation arises, difficulties can be expected to arise.

To illustrate the point, take the case of a motor that has been running at full load for a period of time when the rotor is suddenly stalled. ++++ typical temperature curves of the winding temperature (solid line) compared to the heating and cooling curve of the protective device (dotted line). Starting at a normal continuous running temperature of 120 °C, the current increases for the locked rotor condition and temperature rises to 140 °C when the thermal device trips the motor after some seconds. After about 10 min, the bi-metal will have cooled to ambient, but the windings will only have reading 100 °C. With the bi-metal reset, it’s then possible to attempt a restart of the motor. With the rotor still locked, high starting currents cause the temperature to quickly rise to 165 °C before the bi-metal again trips the motor.

Time -- Temperature: ++++ Temperature rise vs time for a motor

Consider repeating similar sequence of events as described above, where the different cooling times of the motor and bi-metal strip allow the bi-metal to reset before the windings have cooled sufficiently, and if the motor is again restarted after another 10 min, the winding temperature is likely to exceed 180 °C, the critical temperature for class B insulation materials. This illustrates the importance of an accurate simulation by the protection device in both conditions where the motor is running and when the motor is stopped.

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Friday, May 31, 2013 8:20