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IEEE APEC Conference Dallas.

TX March, 1995

Effect of PWM Inverters on AC Motor Bearing Currents and Shaft Voltages

Jay Erdman, Russel J. Kerkman, Dave Schlegel, and Gary Skibinski

Allen Bradley Drives Division

6400 W. Enterprise Drive P.O Box 760
Mequon, WI 53092
(414) - 242 - 7151 (414) - 242 - 8300 Fax

Abstract - This paper investigates AC induction motor shaft voltage in magnitude, results in a high circulating current thru both
problems, current flow thru motor bearings and electric discharge motor bearings since the impedance of the circulating path is
current problems within bearings when operated under both pure low. Modern day induction motors less than 250 horsepower
sinewave and Pulse Width Modulated (PWM) inverter sources.
have grounded bearings but have minimized steady state shaft
Recent experience suggests that PWM voltage sources with steep
wavefronts especially increase the magnitude of the above electrical voltage to extremely small values. However, during transient
problems, leading to motor bearing material erosion and early start and stop conditions across the AC line, magnetic
mechanical failure. Previous literature suggests that shaft voltage - dissymmetries appear as increased shaft voltage, resulting in
bearing current problems under 60 Hz sinewave operation are bearing current flow and reduced life [4]. This transient
predominantly electromagnetically induced. It is proposed that bearing current flow for line started motors was
under PWM operation these same problems are now experimentally verified. The traditional electromagnetic
predominantly an electrostatic phenomenon. A system model to
solution to induced shaft voltage on larger frames is to insulate
describe this phenomenon is characterized and developed.
Construction and test of a new Electrostatic Shielded Induction the non drive end bearing. This does not mitigate shaft
Motor (ESIM) verifies this model and is also a possible solution to voltage but rather the resulting bearing current.
the bearing current problem under PWM operation. Electrostatic induced shaft voltage may be present in any
situation where rotor charge accumulation can occur.
Examples are belt driven couplings, ionized air passing over
I. Introduction
rotor fan blades or high velocity air passing over rotor fan
Bearing currents and shaft voltages under 60 Hz sinewave blades as in steam turbine [6]. The electrostatic solution is to
operation has been a recognized problem since 1924 [1-3]. keep the shaft and frame at the same potential by installing a
The bearing impedance characteristic largely determines the shaft grounding brush to reduce electrostatic build up and
resulting bearing current that will flow for a given shaft reduce shaft voltage to 70 - 400 mV. This value is not enough
voltage magnitude and waveform present. A number of to cause damaging bearing current to flow.
surveys have indicated that 30 % of all motor failures operated Electrostatic coupled shaft voltage from external rotor
with 60 Hz sinewave voltage are due to bearing current sources, such as a static exciter in a turbine generator, is
damage [4]. All rotating machines potentially have a bearing possible and historically solved with the application of a shaft
current problem whether it is DC or AC, and either large or grounding brush [6]. Electrostatic coupled shaft voltage from
small horsepower in size. These rotating machines have three external stator sources, such as a PWM inverter, is
basic sources of shaft voltage - electromagnetic induction, investigated in this paper.
electrostatic coupled from internal sources or electrostatic
coupled from external sources. A. Present Theory of Bearing Current with AC Line
Electromagnetic induction from the stator winding to the
rotor shaft was recognized by Alger [1] and is more prevalent The shaft voltage magnitude measured is commonly used
in long axial machines. The shaft voltage is due to small as an indicator of the possible bearing current that results. It is
dissymmetries of the magnetic field in the air gap that are the magnitude and passage of electrical current thru the
inherent in a practical machine design. Most induction bearing that results in ultimate mechanical damage [7].
motors are designed to have a maximum shaft voltage to frame Bearing damage caused by electrical current is characterized
ground of < 1 Vrms with recommended practice limits stated by the appearance of either pits or transverse flutes burnt into
in [5]. The induced shaft voltages cause bearing current flow the bearing race. Electrical pitting continues until the bearing
in a circulating path from the shaft, thru side A grounded loses its coefficient of friction, further increasing the losses
bearing, thru the stator frame, thru side B grounded bearing and breaking up bearing surface. Typical fluting results in a
and back to the shaft. The induced shaft voltage, although low washboard like formation that appears on the race as shown in
IEEE APEC Conference Dallas. TX March, 1995

a) Low Speed b) High Speed

c) Perfect Bearing

Fig. 3 Asperity Contact Possibilities [8]

quasi-metallic surfaces. The lubricant film is only 50

Angstroms (1 Ao = 10-10 m) while quasi-metallic surfaces have
metallic oxides of 100-120 Ao. Quantum mechanical tunneling
effects enable the current to pass thru the contact zone with
series resistances < 0.5 Ω. This is evidenced by the low
Fig. 1 Fluting of AC Drive Motor Bearings
bearing resistance measurement made at low speeds in Fig. 2.
Reference [7] suggests that large current may pass thru
Fig. 1. It has been proposed that the current density of the ball non-rotating bearings without damage.
bearing contact area with the race is a better identifying factor The actual bearing contact zone area in a rotating bearing
for permissible peak amps allowed without pitting or fluting. is smaller and depends on bearing surface roughness. The
However, this contact area is difficult to analyze since it varies contact area comprises primarily of asperity point-like contact
with bearing speed and load, vibration, method of installation, of ball metal to race metal as shown in Fig. 3a for low speed
viscosity and temperature of the lubricant. It is known that the operation. High speed operation in Fig 3b has fewer asperity
contact area increase is proportional to the bearing load raised contact points. Asperity contact duration is typically 100 µs at
to approximately the 1/2 power [8]. low speed and 33 µs at high speed. The increased bearing
Thus, it is important to characterize the impedance of the resistance with rotation shown in Fig. 2 suggests that the
bearing under different loading conditions to determine the lubricant is introducing a partially insulating film between
problem severity. Surface contact is made in three ways: metal ball and race at speeds greater than 10% of rated. Typical
to metal, quasi-metallic surface contacts and metal point surface roughness of the race and ball from Fig. 4 is seen to be
contact thru electrically insulating surfaces between the ball in the 1 - 10 micron (1 micron = 1 µm) range while the typical
surface roughness and race roughness. lubricating film of 0.1 - 2 micron depends on speed, lubricant
The actual bearing contact zone area in a slow moving or characteristics and to a lesser extent on load [7]. Fig. 5 shows
non-rotating bearing is large and consists mostly of the relationship between oil film and surface roughness in a

Fig. 4 Waviness and Vibration Spectra From Inner

Fig. 2 Bearing Resistance vs. Speed Ring With Accentuated Waviness [8]
IEEE APEC Conference Dallas. TX March, 1995

Fig. 5 Percent Film vs. Gamma for a Bearing [8] Fig. 6 EDM Capacitive Charging Characteristics

bearing [8]. Percent film is the time percentage during which of Fig. 1 are formed from the microscopic pits that soften
the "contacting " surfaces are fully separated by an oil or under repetitive heating of the race to its melting temperature.
lubricant film while Gamma is the relationship of lubricant Several authors suggest that shaft voltage < 0.3 volts is
film thickness to rms value of contacting surface roughness. safe, while 0.5 - 1.0 volts may develop harmful bearing
Most bearing applications operate in the Gamma = 1 to 2 currents, and shaft voltages > 2 volts may destroy the bearing.
region. This implies that high quality bearings look like a high The rotating bearing breakover threshold voltage (when
resistive impedance 80 % of the time with the oil film acting bearing current starts to flow) was measured under DC source
as a capacitor ready to charge to breakdown potential. A voltage to be 700 mv peak.
lower quality bearing will have low resistance metal to metal
contact a majority of the time and in the presence of high B. Proposed Theory of Bearing Current with PWM Inverters
resistivity lubricant acts as a race to ball junction capacitor
that may charge only randomly during non contact peak to The preceding analysis was based on steady state, low
valley points. frequency and low dv/dt shaft voltage sources. However, PWM
The magnitude of the shaft voltage will determine the inverter modulation causes high frequency step-like voltage
bearing current present in lower quality bearings having source waveforms and high dv/dt's to be impressed across the
asperity contacts the majority of the time or high quality stator neutral to frame ground. It is shown that a portion of
bearings that use low resistivity lubricants. A high shaft this waveform is also present as rotor shaft voltage to ground
voltage causes increased current and pits or craters to form due to capacitor divider action. The preceding sinewave
since bearing current flows thru a number of points. Heating analysis applies to PWM operation but with the change that
can occur at point contact to such a degree that the material the experimental static breakdown threshold voltage on the
melts creating craters, thus liberating wearing metal particles rotor shaft increases to 8-15 volts ( Fig. 6) vs. 700 mv for the
into the lubricant. A low shaft voltage has lower current same bearing monitored under 60 Hz sinewave operation (Fig.
amplitudes but has been found to still cause corrosive type of 10). This increase is explained using dielectric breakdown
pitting due to grease decomposition. theory for pulsed sources [9]. Fig. 7 shows that the impulse
In high quality bearings with high resistance grease, the breakdown strength of hexane (1.1 106 v/m) increases
junction bearing capacitor may discharge into a low dramatically over the static value for short step-like pulse
impedance circuit when the electric field exceeds the durations. The bearing voltage breakdown threshold also
breakdown strength in the lubricant asperity points . The increases as a function of shaft voltage rate of change [10].
bearing breakdown voltage threshold is 0.4 volts since mineral This increased breakdown level under PWM operation is
oil field strength is 106 v/m, a typical oil film is 0.2 microns undesirable since during bearing discharge the resulting EDM
and there are two films in series. On occasion the bearing bearing currents are much higher than with sinewave
capacitor voltage, charged by the shaft voltage present, operation. Fig. 8 shows that rough surfaces typically seen in
becomes high enough ( > 0.4 volts) to break down the grease bearings will have a statistical time lag of 3 us prior to
and a short (nanoseconds) high current impulse flows from the breakdown, which agrees with measured value of Fig 6.
charged oil film capacitor within the bearing as shown in Fig. It is theorized that the high quality bearings of Fig. 5
6. This discharge current pulse, if it occurs, is a prime source (Gamma = 2 ) give long mechanical life when used under
of bearing erosion and is commonly referred to as fluting or sinewave operation but may lead to premature bearing current
Electric Discharge Machining (EDM ). The washboard craters
IEEE APEC Conference Dallas. TX March, 1995

II. Effect of PWM Drives on Bearing Current


Pulse Shape A. Test Structure and Instrumentation

Pulse Strength ( MV / cm )

The measurement of the contributors to bearing roughness

1.7 induced by PWM voltage source inverters requires detecting
signals within a noisy environment. The identification of the
contributors requires an experimental structure with test
instruments that provide isolation, but adequate sensitivity.
Fig. 9 shows the test fixture and instrumentation employed for
the investigation presented in this paper. The motor was a 15
Hp, 460 volt, 8 pole, induction motor. The drive and non
0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 drive bearings were insulated. A grounding strap simulated
normal grounded bearings. A carbon brush sensed the rotor
Pulse Duration ( uS )
shaft voltage. The stator neutral was available for measuring
Fig. 7 Increased Dielectric Strength with Impulse Sources [9] the stator neutral to ground voltage. High voltage probes with
an isolation amplifier performed voltage measurements and a
failure under inverter operation due to the bearing junction current probe detected the current through the grounding
capacitor being impulse charged 80 % of the time to higher strap. A digital sampling oscilloscope with mass storage
impulse shaft voltages. This will result in higher destructive provided a tracking of the desired signals. A spectrum
EDM discharge currents. The low quality bearings of Fig. 5 analyzer detected the frequency and phase content of the
(Gamma =1) give low mechanical life bearings when used voltages and current.
under sinewave operation but may actually be better for
inverter operation since the destructive capacitive EDM B. Sine Wave Operation of the Induction Motor
currents only occur 5 % of the time due to asperity contact
resistance shorting the bearing. Bearing and shaft currents are not specific to motors
Test results of a 15 HP motor ( with grounded motor operating from PWM voltage source inverters. Alger
bearings) under 60 Hz steady state sinewave operation showed investigated shaft and bearing currents in the 1920's. Exciting
no evidence of EDM current occurring, except on across the the induction motor with sine waves provided a reference
line starting. Test results on the same motor under Bipolar condition. Measurements of the stator neutral to ground and
Junction Transistor (BJT) and Insulated Gate Bipolar rotor to ground voltages and rotor current were made while
Transistors (IGBT) PWM inverter sources however did show operating the induction machine at no-load and 60 Hz. The
evidence of EDM and fluting on a continuous basis.

AC Line L2
AC Drive
460 Volt

Earth Ground

Step Function Oscilloscope

Pulse and
Spectrum Analyzer
Neutral 200 X Differential Probe
Time Lag ( us )

10 Voltage

8 Shaft
50 X Differential Probe

4 Current
Neutral GND U V W
AC Motor
0 Grounding
Rough Smooth Rough
Cathode Cathode Cathode Current Probe

Fig. 8 Surface Roughness Effect on Statistical Time Lag

to Breakdown [9] Fig. 9 Test Fixture and Instrumentation
IEEE APEC Conference Dallas. TX March, 1995

voltage, however, shows a quite different profile. For a

majority of the time, the rotor is grounded, but occasionally
the rotor tracks the stator neutral to ground voltage. Then
quite suddenly, the rotor voltage collapses, producing a current
pulse. Fig. 6 is an expanded plot of an EDM discharge. As
the stator to neutral voltage increases, the rotor voltage
responds with a capacitive charging characteristic. In fact, the
rotor voltage rises to a value fifteen times larger than the
measured value when operating on sine waves. At the instant
of discharge, an impulse of current occurs with the rotor
voltage simultaneously collapsing.
A number of bearings were removed from motors operating
on AC drives and the AC mains. The bearings were examined
for evidence of EDM fluting. Fig. 1 shows examples of
Fig. 10 AC Line Operation bearings from motors operated on AC drives after being
sectionalized. The fluting is quite pronounced. The outer
results of those tests are shown in Fig. 10. EDM currents were bearing race on the left shows a random EDM discharge. The
not detected. The 60 volt stator neutral voltage induced a 1 outer race on the right shows a continuous etching of the race
volt rotor voltage, a 60 to 1 reduction. This rotor shaft voltage surface.
level is at the upper end of the standards. The normal dv/dt switching current is in the hundreds of
milli-amp range and occurs with the rise in rotor potential. A
C. Evidence of Electric Discharge Machining (EDM) review of the technical literature does not indicate a consensus
on the effects of this relatively small current. However, the
Limiting the number of variables is essential in preventing large current following the rapid collapse of the larger rotor
unjustifiable conclusions from experimental results, especially voltage is believed to cause EDM. The value of the EDM
when investigating the effects of high frequency IGBT shown is limited by the inserted grounding strap and its surge
inverters. To accomplish this: The power cable was fixed to a impedance. A standard drive system's bearing current would
length of ten feet with four conductors and the braided shield be limited by the bearing short circuit impedance. This
grounded at the drive end. A 4 KHz carrier frequency was current, its cause, modeling, and control, are the focus of the
selected. Common mode chokes were not inserted in the input remainder of this paper.
or output of the drive.
Tests were performed on the drive system of Fig. 9. The III. An Equivalent Circuit for Bearing
stator neutral to ground voltage, rotor shaft to ground voltage,
and bearing strap current were monitored. Fig. 11 shows
Displacement and EDM Currents
experimental results when operating the AC drive at rated
A. The Model
volts per hertz and 48 Hz. The stator neutral to ground
voltage displays the typical per carrier cycle waveform
associated with PWM voltage source inverters. The rotor Fig. 12 shows the physical construction of the test motor.
Both the drive and non drive ends of the rotor were outfitted
with an insulated bearing support sleeve, which isolated the
rotor bearings from the motor frame. This provided a
measurement of the rotor open circuit voltage, and when
shorted by the grounding strap, simulates an actual bearing
mounting. In addition, the grounding strap provides a
mechanism for measuring the bearing to ground current. Fig.
12 shows a carbon brush for measuring the rotor voltage and
investigating solutions to the EDM bearing current problem.
The motor had 48 stator slots and 64 rotor bars. Fig. 13
depicts the capacitive coupling relevant to the development of
the model. The stator to frame capacitance (Csf) is a
distributed element representing the capacitive coupling to
frame along the length of the stator conductors. For most
investigations, magnetic coupling of the stator and rotor is
Fig. 11 AC Drive Operation
sufficient. But with the high dv/dt present with modern power
IEEE APEC Conference Dallas. TX March, 1995


Insulating Sleeve Stator Laminations Rb

R inner race

Carbon Brush
C ball,i Cb Z
Inner n Balls C gap,i R
Race in Parallel ball,i Z ,i

ROTOR SHAFT C ball,i Ground

ROTOR C sleeve
Inner R outer race

Per Ball Model Reduced Model
Strap Insulating Sleeve Stator Laminations

Fig. 14 Motor Bearing Models

races. The ball portion of the bearing model, therefore,
consists of n parallel combinations of (Cball,i) and (Rball,i).
Between balls, the inner and outer races are separated by the
Fig. 12 Physical Construction of the Test Motor lubricant, which forms a dielectric barrier. Therefore, a
capacitance (Cgap,i) is formed between each pair of balls,
devices, capacitive coupling considerations cannot be ignored. resulting in n parallel capacitors. The nonlinear impedance
Therefore, the stator to rotor capacitance (Csr) and the rotor to (Zl,i) accounts for the mechanical and electrical abnormalities
frame capacitance (Crf) are included. and randomness of the bearing.
The bearings, lubricating film, and insulating sleeve present Combining the individual components results in a reduced
a combination of capacitances, resistances, and a nonlinear order bearing model, which is compatible with the motor drive
impedance, Fig. 14. First there exists an inner and outer race models employed in simulations and analyses. The reduced
resistance. Then, depending on the physical construction, the order model consists of a resistance (Rb) in series with the
bearing consists of n balls in parallel; each ball having an parallel combination of an effective capacitance (Cb) and a
effective resistance (Rball,i). In addition, each ball is immersed nonlinear impedance (Zl). Finally, the insulating sleeve adds a
in the lubricating film; thus, each ball develops two series capacitance (Csleeve) that is shorted when the grounding
capacitances (Cball,i) linking the ball to the inner and outer strap is employed.
Combining the bearing model with a simple inverter/motor
model yields the model of Fig. 15. Here, the inverter is
modeled as three line to neutral voltages with a neutral to
ground zero sequence source. This model allows the inverter's
Frame voltages to be examined as positive, negative, and zero
sequence sets. The motor is represented as two sets of three
phase windings; one each for the stator and rotor windings.
Crf Winding
The capacitive coupling from stator to frame is lumped at the
Csr Stator
Winding neutral of the stator winding and the capacitive coupling

Drive Stator Rotor


Csf Line to Neutral
Zero Csr Rb
Csr Sequence
Csf Crf
Rotor Source

Cb Z
Stator Winding


Fig. 13 Motor Capacitive Coupling Fig. 15 Inverter / Motor Model

IEEE APEC Conference Dallas. TX March, 1995

between the stator and rotor connects the stator and rotor zero
sequence networks. Finally, the rotor to frame capacitance
and bearing provide the paths to ground from the rotor shaft,
here represented by the neutral of the rotor.

B. An Explanation of the Cause of Bearing Displacement and

EDM Currents

Examining the bearing model in the context of the

experimental results shown in Fig. 11, the significance of the
nonlinear impedance Zl is apparent. Because the bearing
capacitor normally exhibits a dv/dt or displacement current
when the stator voltage changes, the nominal dv/dt current is Fig. 17 Stator - Rotor Capacitance - Measured
limited by the impedance given by the model of Fig. 15 with Zl
equal to a low non zero value. This corresponds to the bearing horsepower for 4 and 6 pole motors. The bearing film
in a position of low impedance between outer and inner race. capacitance was calculated assuming a spherical construction
However, occasionally the bearing rides the lubricating film, for the ball with respect to the race surface. A typical value
which allows the rotor to track the source voltage with a for the ball bearing capacitance is 190 pf [11]. The calculated
random duration. This condition corresponds to a substantial values for the test motor and bearing are contained in Table 1.
increase in Zl . When Zl collapses, reflecting the preferred Tests were performed to establish the accuracy of the above
bearing position or the breakdown of the film, the capacitor Cb calculations. With the stator unexcited and the rotor coupled
is discharged and an EDM current occurs, with the current to a drive motor, measurements of the effective capacitance
through the bearing limited by the zero sequence or common from rotor to frame were made with a RLC meter at various
mode impedance. Thus, the bearing's impedance is statistical speeds. The tests consistently produced a capacitance of 1400
in nature and depends on the position of the balls, the pf. This value represents the equivalent of Csr // ( Csf + (Crf //
condition of the bearing and its lubricant. Cb)). Although the Cb depends on the speed of rotation, the
invariance of the measurement suggests Crf dominates. The
C. Model Parameter Values Csf is obtained by measuring the capacitance from the stator
terminals to frame with the rotor removed. To establish the
Inputs to the model of Fig. 15 include relevant bearing and Csr, measurements were made of the effective capacitance from
motor parameters, and the zero sequence forcing function. stator terminals to frame with rotor shaft and frame connected.
Calculations and tests provided parameter values and the The Csr is obtained by subtracting Csf . Fig. 17 shows Csr for
source voltage. To calculate the stator to rotor capacitance, the test motor as a function of frequency. Finally, the bearing
two parallel conductors were analyzed with a separation equal impedance Zl was measured as a function of rotational speed,
to the distance between the centers of the conductors. This the results of which are shown in Fig. 2. This in combination
value was modified to reflect the number of stator slots and with the measured value of Cb allowed for the determination of
slot opening area. To establish the rotor to frame capacitance, Crf . The measured values are included in Table 1.
the rotor and stator were considered to be parallel cylinders Verification of the parameter values consisted of tests with
with an air gap. Fig. 16 shows the Crf as a function of the insulating sleeve grounding strap open circuited and the
drive operating at various frequencies at no-load. The stator
neutral to ground voltage and rotor voltage to ground were
measured; the stator voltage from the neutral of the stator
windings and the rotor voltage from the rotor brush

Table 1 Motor Model Capacitances

Calculated Measured
Csr 100 pF 100 pF
Csf ----- 11 nF
Crf 1 nF 1.1 nF
Cb 200 pF 200 pF
Fig. 16 Rotor - Frame Capacitance - Calculated
IEEE APEC Conference Dallas. TX March, 1995


Fig. 18 AC Drive Operation - Open Bearings

attachment. Typical results of the tests are displayed in Fig.

18. With the grounding strap open, the rotor voltage is
strikingly different from the rotor voltage of Fig. 11, where the
grounding strap was in place. The tracking of the stator to
neutral voltage by the rotor voltage confirms the existence of
zero sequence paths as indicated by the model of Fig. 15.
The stator to rotor voltage ratio confirmed the relative
weighting of the capacitors Csr and Crf in Table 1.

D. Simulation Results Fig. 19 EDM Discharge Top) Experimental Bot) Simulation

For simulation and analysis purposes, the model of Fig. 15 One area where the simulation fails to predict the observed
was reduced to a zero sequence approximation, which is the response occurs in the transient response of the dv/dt and
shaded portion of Fig. 15. A simulation was developed with EDM currents. Close examination of the experimental results
the parameters of Table 1 for the bearing model. The shows a 12.5 MHz oscillation in the measured current;
simulation provided an analytical tool for examining the however, the oscillation does not appear in the simulation
effects of PWM waveforms, verifying the system model and results. One explanation for this discrepancy is the
parameters by correlating simulation results with experimental measurement technique. Inserting a grounding strap modifies
data, and for evaluating various solutions to EDM. Fig. 19 the system impedance. The characteristic impedance of the
shows an expanded portion of Fig. 11 and a simulation grounding strap alters the natural frequency and establishes an
employing the zero sequence model. The forcing function for oscillation in the dv/dt and EDM currents.
the simulation was the stator neutral to ground voltage from
the experimental results. The outputs include the rotor voltage IV. The Electrostatic Shielded Induction Motor:
and probe current as shown. A Solution to EDM Bearing Currents
Comparing the simulation results to the experimental
results shows good agreement. The dv/dt and EDM currents The previous section's experimental results suggest
are representative of experimental results. The rapid rise in electrical discharge as a principal contributor to bearing
rotor voltage at the point of EDM discharge is in very good roughness. A bearing model was developed and interfaced
agreement with the data. To obtain this accuracy, an estimate with the model for the electrical source and interconnecting
of the nature of Zl is necessary. For the results presented network. The model reflects the observed electrical behavior,
above, Zl was modeled as a diac (Fig. 2); high impedance until which suggests the source of PWM induced bearing roughness
the voltage threshold is met; thereafter it is voltage limited. is the common mode or zero sequence voltage.
The threshold voltage was experimentally determined. The Using the model developed above, the task of proposing
value of the impedance while voltage tracking, determined solutions to EDM discharge becomes simply one of disrupting
from the rate at which the experimental rotor voltage of Fig. the discharge either through the source voltage,
19 decayed, was found to be in good agreement with the interconnecting impedance, or the bearing design. Thus three
results of Fig. 2. design areas are available for investigation.
IEEE APEC Conference Dallas. TX March, 1995

Fig. 20 Stator Shield - Open Bearing Fig. 22 Full Shield - Open Bearings

Because of the capacitive coupling from stator to rotor, the extending the Faraday shield to enclose the stator end
most likely candidate is the coupling mechanism from stator to windings and duplicating the tests above, a near complete
rotor - the Csr in Fig. 15. If an electrostatic shield is inserted shielding of the rotor voltage was observed. As results of Fig.
between the stator and rotor, the coupling capacitance from 22 show, the rotor voltage with grounding strap open is
stator to rotor is defeated; thus reducing the dv/dt and reduced 98% when compared to the unshielded case.
preventing voltage tracking by the rotor. Because the Connecting the grounding strap (Fig. 23), virtually zero dv/dt
induction machine generates torque through magnetic current was measured and no EDM current detected.
induction, the presence of the shield will not affect motor The experimental results presented above confirm bearing
output ratings. A shield was constructed by inserting 1 inch currents, both dv/dt and EDM, are induced primarily by
adhesive backed copper foil tape strips to cover the stator slot electrostatic coupling. The stator to rotor capacitance couples
area. The shield was grounded to the motor frame. the zero sequence or common mode source from stator to
Fig. 20 shows the stator neutral to ground and shaft voltage rotor. The bearing provides a return path for the common
for an identical operating condition as shown in Fig. 18. With mode source, thus allowing dv/dt and EDM discharge
the shield in place, a rotor voltage of 18 volts peak exists when currents.
the outer race grounding strap is open circuited - a 56%
reduction when compared to the 40 volts peak of Fig. 18. V. Conclusions
With the strap grounded (Fig. 21), the dv/dt currents were
reduced from 500 ma to 50 ma. No EDM currents were The paper presented a review of electrically induced bearing
detected. roughness for AC machines under low frequency sine wave
Employing the copper foil strips as indicated above reduced operation. A theory was proposed for lubricant dielectric
the rotor exposure to the stator windings in the precise breakdown under PWM excitation. Electrostatic coupled
proportion by which the rotor voltage is reduced. By discharge or displacement (dv/dt) and electric discharge

Fig. 21 Stator Shield - Sleeve Shorted Fig. 23 Full Shield - Sleeve Shorted
IEEE APEC Conference Dallas. TX March, 1995

machining (EDM) currents were identified and experimentally [3] Lawson, J. ,"Motor Bearing Fluting",
measured. Electrical models were developed and CH3331-6/93/0000-0032 1993-IEEE
experimentally verified for the source voltage, coupling [4] Prashad, H., "Theoretical Analysis of Capacitive Effect of
network, and bearing. An electrostatic shielded induction Roller Bearings on Repeated Starts and Stops of a Machine
motor was described and experimentally demonstrated as a Under the Influence of Shaft Voltages", Journal of Tribology,
solution to the bearing current problem. Jan. 1991
The technical literature and experience show unloaded [5] NEMA MG-1 Specification Part 31, Section IV , 1993
motors at high speed provide the worst case scenario for [6] Ammann, C. , Reichert,K., Joho, R., Posedel, Z., "Shaft
bearing currents. In addition, applications with coupled loads Voltages in Generators with Static Excitation Systems-
tend not to exhibit the problem because of parallel paths for Problems and Solutions", 1987 IEEE Power Eng. Society
electrostatic discharge. Summer Mtg.
[7] Andreason, S. "Passage of Electrical Current thru Rolling
ACKNOWLEDGMENT Bearings", SKF Gothenburg
[8] Harris,T. Rolling Bearing Analysis, Wiley, 1984
The authors wish to thank Mr. Steve Stretz for his research [9] Alston,L., High Voltage Technology, Oxford Press ,1968
assistance in the bearing current phenomenon from a motor [10] Prashad, H., "Theoretical Evaluation of Capacitance,
design point of view. Resistanace and their Effects on Performance of
Hydrodynamic Journal Bearings , Journal of Tribology, Oct.
[11] Prashad, H. "Theoretical Analysis of the Effects of
[1] Alger P., Samson H., "Shaft Currents in Electric Instantaneous Charge Leakage On Roller Bearings Lubricated
Machines" A.I.R.E. Conf. , Feb 1924 with High Resistivity Lubricants under the Influence of
[2] Costello, M., "Shaft Voltage and Rotating Machinery", Electric Current", Journal of Tribology Jan.1990.
IEEE Trans. IAS, March 1993