Alternating-Current Motor

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Related to Alternating-Current Motor: Induction motor, synchronous motor

alternating-current motor

[¦ȯl·tər‚nād·iŋ ¦kər·ənt ′mōd·ər]
A machine that converts alternating-current electrical energy into mechanical energy by utilizing forces exerted by magnetic fields produced by the current flow through conductors.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Alternating-Current Motor


an AC machine designed to operate as a motor. AC motors are classified as synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous electric motors are used for electric drives in cases requiring a constant rate of rotation with no serious overloading of the drive shaft. They are also used to compensate for reactance in a power network.

The most common asynchronous motor is the three-phase type with a short-circuited rotor; asynchronous motors with a phase-wound rotor are seldom used. Also used are single-phase motors of the asynchronous capacitor type. A variety of the AC motor is the linear motor, which, in contrast to the usual (rotating) motor, converts AC electrical power into the mechanical energy of motion along an open curve.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Alternating-current motor

An electrical machine that converts alternating-current (ac) electric energy to mechanical energy. Alternating-current motors are widely used because of the general availability of ac electric power and because they can be readily built with a variety of characteristics and in a large range of sizes, from a few watts to many thousands of kilowatts. They can be broadly classified into three groups—induction motors, synchronous motors, and ac series motors:

  •  Induction motors
  •   Single-phase
  •   Split-phase
  •   Capacitor-start
  •   Capacitor-run
  •   Polyphase
  •  Synchronous motors
  •   Single-phase
  •   Permanent-magnet (PM)
  •   Reluctance
  •   Hysteresis
  •   Polyphase
  •   Wound-field
  •   Permanent-magnet (PM)
  •   Reluctance
  •  AC series or universal motors (single-phase)
See Alternating current, Direct-current motor

The most common type of ac motor, both in total number and in total power, is the induction motor. In larger sizes these machines employ a polyphase stator winding, which creates a rotating magnetic field when supplied with polyphase ac power. The speed of rotation depends upon the frequency of the supply and the number of magnetic poles created by the winding; thus, only a discrete number of speeds are possible with a fixed frequency supply.

Currents are induced in the closed coils of the rotor for any rotor speed different from the speed of the rotating field. The difference in speed is called the slip speed, and efficient energy conversion occurs only when the slip speed is small. These machines are, therefore, nearly constant-speed machines when operated from a constant-frequency supply. They are, however, routinely started from zero speed and accelerated through the inefficient high-slip-speed region to reach operating speed. See Induction motor, Slip (electricity)

In contrast to an induction motor, the rotor of a synchronous motor runs exactly at the rotating field speed and there are no induced rotor currents. Torque is produced by the interaction of the rotating field with a direct-current (dc) field created by injected dc rotor current or permanent magnets, or with a rotor magnetic structure that has an easy direction for magnetization (in the reluctance motor). Since for any frequency of excitation there is only one speed for synchronous torque, synchronous machines have no starting torque unless the frequency is variable. When the motor is used in fixed-frequency applications, an induction-machine winding is also placed on the rotor to allow starting as an induction motor and running as a synchronous motor. See Synchronous motor

A dc motor with the armature and field windings in series will run on ac since both magnetic fields reverse when the current reverses. Since these machines run on ac or dc, they are commonly called universal motors. The speed can be controlled by varying the voltage, and these machines are therefore widely used in small sizes for domestic appliances that require speed control or higher speeds than can be attained with 60-Hz induction motors. See Electric rotating machinery, Motor, Universal motor, Windings in electric machinery

McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Engineering. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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